Intest is controlled with a flexible range of command-line instructions.

§1. Specifying what to test. Intest tests just one project at a time, and the first thing to do is specify which. The general form is:

    $ intest/Tangled/intest PROJECT COMMAND

or, in case the PROJECT directory happens to begin with a hyphen and could be confused with the name of a command-line switch,

    $ intest/Tangled/intest -from PROJECT COMMAND

PROJECT is optional if the COMMAND is simply -help or -version, when of course no actual testing will happen.

The rest of this section is entirely about how to write a COMMAND.

Intest expects that PROJECT will be a directory, and that it will further contain a subdirectory called Tests. But that is really the only assumption it makes: there is no requirement for the project to be a web in the sense of Inweb, or to be one of the Inform tools. As we will see, though, the project must provide detailed instructions on how the tests are to be performed.

§2. But for the benefit of Inform users, Intest can also be used in a simplified way in which PROJECT is an Inform extension (if stored in directory form) or kit. For example:

    $ intest/Tangled/intest -from 'Extensions/Emily Short/Locksmith-v15.i7xd' all

What makes this simpler is that the user need not write any instructions specifying what to test and how to test it: Intest knows how to test an Inform extension or kit, and handles it all automatically. That does come with a minor restriction: history (see below) is not available for these simple projects, but on the other hand, it is also not really needed since they typically have fewer than ten test cases.

Intest can only work in this simplified, Inform-specific way if it has access to the Inform "internals" directory, part of the core distribution for the programming language, which contains resources it will need in order to conduct these tests. That's no real restriction since, of course, if the user does not have Inform installed then there would be no way to test such extensions or kits anyway. But Intest needs to know where in the filing system the internals directory can be found. By default it assumes the path inform7/Internal, but this can be overridden with the -internal switch:

    $ intest/Tangled/intest -internal '/Volumes/Experimental HD/unstable-inform/inform7/Internal' -from 'Extensions/Emily Short/Locksmith-v15.i7xd' all

Note that this exactly follows the conventions used by the inform7 and inbuild command-line tools, which also have an optional -internal command-line switch and the same default.

§3. History and substitution. For each different project PROJECT, Intest maintains a history of recent commands in a file stored at:


If Intest can't find this file, it silently continues; it will rewrite, or create, this file when it exits, unless the -no-history setting is used. (When Intest is being used less interactively — for example, inside the Inform user interface app — this setting avoids clutter.)

The first thing Intest does with a COMMAND is to make substitutions. A COMMAND consisting of just "?" lists the project's current history, like so:

    $ intest/Tangled/intest inform7 ?
    ?1. cases
    ?2. Abolition
    ?3. Beatles Sackcloth Gelato
    ?4. problems
    1 = PM_ActivityOf; 2 = PM_AdjectiveIsValue

(If there's no recorded history, output is empty.) What this means is that there have been four previous commands, called ?1 to ?4. There are also two test cases recently found to be troublesome, called 1 and 2. History is maintained for the previous 20 commands.

Intest uses both of these notations to save typing. The command ?3, for example, abbreviates Beatles Sackcloth Gelato. Thus:

    $ intest/Tangled/intest inform7 ?3
    Repeating: ?3. Beatles Sackcloth Gelato

is equivalent to typing:

    $ intest/Tangled/intest inform7 Beatles Sackcloth Gelato

except that it doesn't add a new line to the history file, since this is a repeat of an old command, not a new one.

Calling intest with an empty command repeats its most recent new command:

    $ intest/Tangled/intest inform7
    Repeating: ?4. problems

Finally, intest automatically expands any command line arguments consisting only of positive decimal numbers into the names recorded in the history. Thus

    $ intest/Tangled/intest inform7 1 2
    Expanded to: ?5. PM_ActivityOf PM_AdjectiveIsValue

§4. Command line arguments. At this point, then, the command no longer has any ?, ?n or n tokens in it, because those have all been taken care of. What remains is a "raw command". This takes the form:

    OPTIONS -using USING -do DO

OPTIONS, which can be nothing at all, sets overall switches such as -no-history. See below. -using tells Intest where to find test cases; that too is optional. -do tells Intest which test cases to run. If there isn't a -using block, there's no need to say -do, so simply


will work. For example,

    -no-history bigarrays badvariables

would set the option -no-history and then perform a "do" on the two test cases named.

§5. The options. Are as follows:

-history and -no-history turn the writing of command history on or off.

-colours and -no-colours turn on or off the use of red and green terminal text to show deletions and insertions when displaying differences.

-verbose and -no-verbose turn on or off the echoing of shell commands to the standard output. (Unlike make, Intest is by default silent.)

-set VAR=VALUE creates the global variable $$VAR and sets it to VALUE. The variable name VAR must contain only upper-case letters, digits or underscores.

-threads=N tells Intest to use up to N independent threads, with one test at a time running on each thread. Experience shows that setting N to be the number of processor cores you have, doubling if you have hyperthreading, gives the fastest performance. -threads=1 makes Intest run in a single thread, which may be necessary on some platforms.

-purge is an option used only when testing Inform 7; it's a convenience for removing the many temporary files created in the course of testing.

§6. Using. Before it can do any testing, Intest has to discover the universe of possible named test cases available, and work out which recipe to use with each.

It normally does that by reading a recipe file stored at:


This is because the default -using setting is

    -using PROJECT/Tests/PROJECT.intest

You can alternatively say -using R for any intest file R, which need not be in the project folder.

It is also possible, though seldom useful, to give your recipe instructions at the command line and not in an intest file at all. Newcomers to Intest should simply skip the following discussion, but:

    -using USE1 USE2 ... USEn

can instead be a list of use commands, some of a single token, some of two or more. In effect, those are lines in an intest file.

§7. Doing. The "doing" part of an Intest command is usually a list of test cases to be tried. For example,

    alpha beta gamma

is implicitly read as

    -test alpha beta gamma

since -test is understood if no other do command is given.

Any number of names can be supplied, each of which must be one of the following:

For more on test types and groups, see The Universe of Cases.

§8. But other do commands are also available:

-catalogue: List all the known test cases. For large projects this might produce an enormous list, but -using can cut that down. To give an example from Inform,

    $ intest/Tangled/intest inform7 -using -extension 'inform7/Internal/Extensions/Emily Short/Locksmith.i7x' -do -catalogue
    Locksmith Example A = John Malkovich's Toilet
    Locksmith Example B = Tobacco
    Locksmith Example C = Rekeying
    Locksmith Example D = Watchtower

Here the universe of possible tests is reduced to just those which are given in the documentation for this specific Inform extension. The -catalogue then gives a full list of those four.

-find <text>: List all the known test cases whose case names or story titles match <text>. This can in fact be a regular expression, using [...], %c for any character (not .), %C for any non-white-space, %d for a digit, and so on. For example:

    $ intest/Tangled/intest inform7 -find %d%d%d%d
    Test cases matching '%d%d%d%d':
    Jamaica1688 = Jamaica 1688
    Mapped = 1691
    Royal = 1691
    Royal2 = 1691
    Royal3 = 1691
    SP = Space Patrol #57 - 1953-10-31 - Stranded on Jupiter!
    Stoppers = Trachypachidae Maturin 1803

(The reason for the equals signs here, and in the above example too, is that an individual test case can have both a "name" — such as Stoppers — and also a "title" — such as "Trachypachidae Maturin 1803". The name is derived from its filename. The title will only exist for cases extracted from Inform example or extension files, and then it's the title of the story making up the test case.)

-source <cases>: Output the contents of the test cases. This sounds as if it does no more than printing out their source files, but it's a non-trivial operation for some Inform test cases (those occurring as examples or in extensions).

-script <cases>: This is relevant only for testing Inform. Output the script of player inputs to be used when running the story file produced by compiling this test case; the script being drawn from the

Test me with "...".

line inside the source, if one is present. If no script is there, this produces empty output, but does not throw an error. For example:

    $ intest -using -extension 'inform7/Internal/Extensions/Emily Short/Locksmith.i7x' -do -script C
    x key
    unlock box
    x key

which is the command script for Example C of Locksmith:

-concordance <cases>: Output a concordance table for comparing line numbers between the source text extracted by Intest vs. the original file they came from. This is a sequence of lines of the form:

    1 +404

which means "from line 1 of the extracted output onwards, you have to add 404 to get the corresponding line of the original from which it came". There can be any number of such lines, including none at all (which means: the line numbers match); e.g.

    1 +404
    21 +409

means add 404 to lines 1 to 20, then add 409 from then on, presumably because 5 lines have been skipped. The list is always of minimal length and any offsets quoted are always positive, so +0 or +-7 can't occur.

-bless <cases>: Test and then, if the case is cursed, bless the transcript as correct. (If the case is already blessed, nothing changes.)

-rebless <cases>: Test and then bless the transcript as correct, replacing any existing blessed transcript: equivalent to -curse followed by -bless.

-curse <cases>: Delete the blessed transcript for these cases. (Alas, there's no such thing as -recurse.)

-show <cases> or -show-TARGET: Run a test just as far as the first show step in its recipe which reveals a file marked as this target (-show by itself showing the most important of these). What targets are available depends on the recipe for the test, and an error is thrown if the target can never be shown by that recipe, or if it can be but, as things turn out, isn't.

When testing Inform 7 test cases or examples, this can produce a variety of useful variations:

-debug <cases>: Run a test, but when you get to the Inform 7 compiler stage, run it in the lldb debugger and do not redirect stdout or stderr. (This is for Inform only.)

-open <cases>: Call the shell command open on the file(s) from which the source text of these case(s) are drawn. On MacOS, for example, this is equivalent to double-clicking them in the Finder, and likely means they will open in the default text editor.

-diff <cases>: Test and then, if a match step fails in its recipe, run the shell command diff on the actual versus ideal versions of the output being matched.

-bbdiff <cases>: Like -diff, but using the bbdiff tool instead. You will only have this if you're running the BBEdit text editor on MacOS.

§9. Output redirection. Do commands producing textual output, such as -source, normally send that to the standard output stdout. (If you're using Intest in a bash or similar shell on a Unix-based operating system, this means it can be piped to an application or redirected to a file.) But you can also ask Intest itself to redirect the output, since any action can optionally be followed by -to <filename>.

This redirects output to the given file, which is created (and overwrites any file already existing with that name). In a -to destination, any usage in the filename of the text [NAME] expands to the name of the test case; any usage of [NUMBER] expands to a unique integer, counting upwards from 1, for each test case being applied to by this action. Thus, for example:

    -source A B C D -to source_[NAME].txt

might write four files, called, say,

    source_Locksmith Example A.txt
    source_Locksmith Example B.txt
    source_Locksmith Example C.txt
    source_Locksmith Example D.txt

Note that if you write multiple do commands, they can each have independent -to destinations.

§10. Reporting on test outcomes in the Inform app. Two special do commands are provided for use of the Inform app only (well, it's hard to think of anyone else who would need them). The idea here is that after the Inform app has conducted a test, it asks intest to produce an HTML page to describe the results of the test, passing over the information needed to do this:

    -report <case> <code> <problems-file> <skein-file>

Here <case> is a single case, not a list, and <code> is one of:

<problems-file> is the file generated by inform7, in the event of either success or failure, which is usually stored in the project's Build/Problems.html.

<skein-file> is only looked at (potentially) in case (c), and is the skein file for the example in question; at present it's ignored.

For example:

    $ intest/Tangled/intest inform7
        -using -extension Locksmith.i7xp/Source/extension.i7x
        -do -report C i7 Locksmith.i7xp/Build/Problems.html Locksmith.i7xp/Skein.skein

reports on the failure of example C from the Locksmith.i7xp project. The output is HTML, but sent to stdout by default; use something like

    -to Locksmith.i7xp/Build/Problems-3.html

to redirect this to a particular file.

The second special action is -combine. This assumes that the Inform app has already performed N such tests, where N >= 1, and has called Intest with the -report action on each in turn, redirecting the output to a series of files. What -combine does is to read all of those files in and merge them into a consolidated report, which, once again, it writes as HTML. The format here is:

    -combine <base-filename> -<N>

The filenames of the individual reports are assumed to be <base-filename> but with "-1", "-2", ..., tacked on before the file extension. Thus:

    $ intest -using -extension Locksmith.i7xp/Source/extension.i7x
        -do -combine Locksmith.i7xp/Build/Problems.html -4
        -to Locksmith.i7xp/Build/Consolidated.html

reads in


and writes out a consolidated report into


§11. Skein file testing. In order to be used by the Testing panel in the Inform app, intest also supports the following:

    -test-skein <file> <node-id>

This reads the specified .skein file, looks for the node in it with the given ID, and runs intest's diff algorithm on the actual versus blessed transcript at that node. The output is in simple HTML format.