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Updated: July 2014

prove (1)


prove - Run tests through a TAP harness.


Please see following description for synopsis


Perl Programmers Reference Guide                         PROVE(1)

     prove - Run tests through a TAP harness.

      prove [options] [files or directories]

     Boolean options:

      -v,  --verbose     Print all test lines.
      -l,  --lib         Add 'lib' to the path for your tests (-Ilib).
      -b,  --blib        Add 'blib/lib' and 'blib/arch' to the path for your tests
      -s,  --shuffle     Run the tests in random order.
      -c,  --color       Colored test output (default).
           --nocolor     Do not color test output.
           --count       Show the X/Y test count when not verbose (default)
           --nocount     Disable the X/Y test count.
      -D   --dry         Dry run. Show test that would have run.
           --ext         Set the extension for tests (default '.t')
      -f,  --failures    Show failed tests.
      -o,  --comments    Show comments.
           --fork        Fork to run harness in multiple processes.
           --ignore-exit Ignore exit status from test scripts.
      -m,  --merge       Merge test scripts' STDERR with their STDOUT.
      -r,  --recurse     Recursively descend into directories.
           --reverse     Run the tests in reverse order.
      -q,  --quiet       Suppress some test output while running tests.
      -Q,  --QUIET       Only print summary results.
      -p,  --parse       Show full list of TAP parse errors, if any.
           --directives  Only show results with TODO or SKIP directives.
           --timer       Print elapsed time after each test.
           --normalize   Normalize TAP output in verbose output
      -T                 Enable tainting checks.
      -t                 Enable tainting warnings.
      -W                 Enable fatal warnings.
      -w                 Enable warnings.
      -h,  --help        Display this help
      -?,                Display this help
      -H,  --man         Longer manpage for prove
           --norc        Don't process default .proverc

     Options that take arguments:

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      -I                 Library paths to include.
      -P                 Load plugin (searches App::Prove::Plugin::*.)
      -M                 Load a module.
      -e,  --exec        Interpreter to run the tests ('' for compiled tests.)
           --harness     Define test harness to use.  See TAP::Harness.
           --formatter   Result formatter to use. See TAP::Harness.
      -a,  --archive     Store the resulting TAP in an archive file.
      -j,  --jobs N      Run N test jobs in parallel (try 9.)
           --state=opts  Control prove's persistent state.
           --rc=rcfile   Process options from rcfile

     See attributes(5) for descriptions of the following

     |Availability   | runtime/perl-512 |
     |Stability      | Uncommitted      |
     If ~/.proverc or ./.proverc exist they will be read and any
     options they contain processed before the command line
     options. Options in .proverc are specified in the same way
     as command line options:

         # .proverc
         -j9 --fork

     Additional option files may be specified with the "--rc"
     option.  Default option file processing is disabled by the
     "--norc" option.

     Under Windows and VMS the option file is named _proverc
     rather than .proverc and is sought only in the current

  Reading from "STDIN"
     If you have a list of tests (or URLs, or anything else you
     want to test) in a file, you can add them to your tests by
     using a '-':

      prove - < my_list_of_things_to_test.txt

     See the "README" in the "examples" directory of this

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Perl Programmers Reference Guide                         PROVE(1)

  Default Test Directory
     If no files or directories are supplied, "prove" looks for
     all files matching the pattern "t/*.t".

  Colored Test Output
     Colored test output is the default, but if output is not to
     a terminal, color is disabled. You can override this by
     adding the "--color" switch.

     Color support requires Term::ANSIColor on Unix-like
     platforms and Win32::Console windows. If the necessary
     module is not installed colored output will not be

  Exit Code
     If the tests fail "prove" will exit with non-zero status.

  Arguments to Tests
     It is possible to supply arguments to tests. To do so
     separate them from prove's own arguments with the
     arisdottle, '::'. For example

      prove -v t/mytest.t :: --url

     would run t/mytest.t with the options '--url'.  When running multiple tests they will
     each receive the same arguments.

     Normally you can just pass a list of Perl tests and the
     harness will know how to execute them.  However, if your
     tests are not written in Perl or if you want all tests
     invoked exactly the same way, use the "-e", or "--exec"

      prove --exec '/usr/bin/ruby -w' t/
      prove --exec '/usr/bin/perl -Tw -mstrict -Ilib' t/
      prove --exec '/path/to/my/customer/exec'

     If you need to make sure your diagnostics are displayed in
     the correct order relative to test results you can use the
     "--merge" option to merge the test scripts' STDERR into
     their STDOUT.

     This guarantees that STDOUT (where the test results appear)
     and STDOUT (where the diagnostics appear) will stay in sync.
     The harness will display any diagnostics your tests emit on

     Caveat: this is a bit of a kludge. In particular note that
     if anything that appears on STDERR looks like a test result

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Perl Programmers Reference Guide                         PROVE(1)

     the test harness will get confused. Use this option only if
     you understand the consequences and can live with the risk.

     You can ask "prove" to remember the state of previous test
     runs and select and/or order the tests to be run based on
     that saved state.

     The "--state" switch requires an argument which must be a
     comma separated list of one or more of the following

         Run the same tests as the last time the state was saved.
         This makes it possible, for example, to recreate the
         ordering of a shuffled test.

             # Run all tests in random order
             $ prove -b --state=save --shuffle

             # Run them again in the same order
             $ prove -b --state=last

         Run only the tests that failed on the last run.

             # Run all tests
             $ prove -b --state=save

             # Run failures
             $ prove -b --state=failed

         If you also specify the "save" option newly passing
         tests will be excluded from subsequent runs.

             # Repeat until no more failures
             $ prove -b --state=failed,save

         Run only the passed tests from last time. Useful to make
         sure that no new problems have been introduced.

         Run all tests in normal order. Multple options may be
         specified, so to run all tests with the failures from
         last time first:

             $ prove -b --state=failed,all,save

         Run the tests that most recently failed first. The last
         failure time of each test is stored. The "hot" option

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Perl Programmers Reference Guide                         PROVE(1)

         causes tests to be run in most-recent- failure order.

             $ prove -b --state=hot,save

         Tests that have never failed will not be selected. To
         run all tests with the most recently failed first use

             $ prove -b --state=hot,all,save

         This combination of options may also be specified thus

             $ prove -b --state=adrian

         Run any tests with todos.

         Run the tests in slowest to fastest order. This is
         useful in conjunction with the "-j" parallel testing
         switch to ensure that your slowest tests start running

             $ prove -b --state=slow -j9

         Run test tests in fastest to slowest order.

         Run the tests in newest to oldest order based on the
         modification times of the test scripts.

         Run the tests in oldest to newest order.

         Run those test scripts that have been modified since the
         last test run.

         Save the state on exit. The state is stored in a file
         called .prove (_prove on Windows and VMS) in the current

     The "--state" switch may be used more than once.

         $ prove -b --state=hot --state=all,save

     prove introduces a separation between "options passed to the
     perl which runs prove" and "options passed to the perl which
     runs tests"; this distinction is by design. Thus the perl
     which is running a test starts with the default @INC.

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Perl Programmers Reference Guide                         PROVE(1)

     Additional library directories can be added via the
     "PERL5LIB" environment variable, via -Ifoo in "PERL5OPT" or
     via the "-Ilib" option to prove.

  Taint Mode
     Normally when a Perl program is run in taint mode the
     contents of the "PERL5LIB" environment variable do not
     appear in @INC.

     Because "PERL5LIB" is often used during testing to add build
     directories to @INC prove (actually
     TAP::Parser::Source::Perl) passes the names of any
     directories found in "PERL5LIB" as -I switches. The net
     effect of this is that "PERL5LIB" is honoured even when
     prove is run in taint mode.

     Plugins can be loaded using the "-Pplugin" syntax, eg:

       prove -PMyPlugin

     This will search for a module named
     "App::Prove::Plugin::MyPlugin", or failing that, "MyPlugin".
     If the plugin can't be found, "prove" will complain & exit.

     You can pass arguments to your plugin by appending
     "=arg1,arg2,etc" to the plugin name:

       prove -PMyPlugin=fou,du,fafa

     Please check individual plugin documentation for more

  Available Plugins
     For an up-to-date list of plugins available, please check


  Writing Plugins
     Please see "PLUGINS" in App::Prove.

     This software was built from source available at  The original
     community source was downloaded from

     Further information about this software can be found on the
     open source community website at

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