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Catch2 is a C++ unit test framework. It also provides some microbenchmarking features and some rudimentary Behaviour Driven Development functionality.

Version 2 of Catch2 supports C++11 and newer. For pre C++111 compilers it's possible to use the old Catch version 1 branch. But don't expect heavy development on this old branch.

Catch2 is like most other C++ testing frameworks based on macros. C++ still can't get rid of the old c macros because of the lack of replacements like __FILE__ or __LINE__ and others. But as soon as macros are involved you have to be careful. Several limitations are in place like missing debugging abilities, unexepected side effects and they clutter the global namespace. For instance you'll have to take care if you want to use expressions with commas in a assertion macro: you can use a typedef or parenthise the expression. Otherwise the assertion macro will recognise the commas as parameter delimiters and fail to process the macro replacement.2

Consider also the recommendations for using macros.

The recommended way to use catch2 is to use its CMake integration.

For a simple start if you only want to do some prototyping download the single header catch.hpp and copy it into your prototyping project.3

To get started create two cpp-files: lets call them main.cpp and test_catch2.cpp and open them with your favourite vim editor:

$ touch {main,test_catch2}.cpp
$ vim !$      # designates the last argument of the preceding command. This is the shortened version of !!:$ (from bash reference manual)
// file main.cpp
#include "lib/catch.hpp" # or wherever you put the catch header file
// file test_catch2.cpp
#include "lib/catch.hpp" # or wherever you put the catch header file

// As a warm up a very simple test with the require assertion macro
    REQUIRE(2 * 21 == 42);

Firstly there is the TEST_CASE macro which defines a test case. A test case can include several sections. These test cases and the sections behave a bit different than the usual xUnit fixture behaviour. For each section with a test case the test case code is executed from the start. Sections can be nested and every leaf section will be run exactly one time.

Several assertion macros are available:

Lets have a more complicated example:

TEST_CASE("First test case") {

    std::string testString("This is a test string containing some characters");


    SECTION("Clear the string") {

    SECTION("Check string length") {
        REQUIRE(testString.length() == 48);

Lets compile and run this code:

$ g++ main.cpp test_catch2.cpp -o myFirstCatch2Test
$ ./myFirstCatch2Test
All tests passed (5 assertions in 2 test cases)

If everything works as expected and no test failure occurs little is printed on the command line. If you want to see more details add -s to the call: ./myFirstCatch2Test -s

Here are some more examples regarding catching thrown or not thrown exceptions:

TEST_CASE("Exceptional test case") {

    SECTION("Safty first, no exceptions") {
        REQUIRE_NOTHROW(5 == 5);

    SECTION("Throw exceptions") {
        REQUIRE_THROWS(throw std::exception());
        REQUIRE_THROWS_AS(throw std::exception(), std::exception);


1 Sometimes you are stick to an old C++98 compiler and toolchain. I also had the pleasure to work with such old compilers. This is hard enough. So never judge anybody who has to take care about the old messed code and the old nasty compilers!

2 That's why you always should limit the use of macros to the absolutley necessary minumum when writing C++. Use the great modern functionalities the C++-responsibles created for you!

3 Never use the shortcuts used in prototypes for your projects which will be (eventually) shipped to customers (real customers, friends, collegues, enemies). It will make maintenance and extensibility realy hard and drive you or your next ones mad!