Fri, 29 Jun 2007 09:57:07 -0700
changeset 2941 ee2455231adb95fd47d014cb926abe9ff2772bb3
parent 1277 7ba0afd8c06bba1391f158db651f3a1f6452fde7
child 3639 d9e5caddcf3f722b01e7a8c08c11374087119aa8
permissions -rw-r--r--
Update reftest documentation for printing reftests. NPOTB.

Layout Engine Visual Tests (reftest)
L. David Baron <>, Mozilla Corporation
July 19, 2006

This code is designed to run tests of Mozilla's layout engine.  These
tests consist of an HTML (or other format) file along with a reference
in the same format.  The tests are run based on a manifest file, and for
each test, PASS or FAIL is reported, and UNEXPECTED is reported if the
result (PASS or FAIL) was not the expected result noted in the manifest.

Why this way?

Writing HTML tests where the reference rendering is also in HTML is
harder than simply writing bits of HTML that can be regression-tested by
comparing the rendering of an older build to that of a newer build
(perhaps using stored reference images from the older build).  However,
comparing across time has major disadvantages:

 * Comparisons across time either require two runs for every test, or
   they require stored reference images appropriate for the platform and
   configuration (often limiting testing to a very specific

 * Comparisons across time may fail due to expected changes, for
   example, changes in the default style sheet for HTML, changes in the
   appearance of form controls, or changes in default preferences like
   default font size or default colors.

Using tests for which the pass criteria were explicitly chosen allows
running tests at any time to see whether they still pass.

Manifest Format

The test manifest format is a plain text file.  The "#" makes the
remainder of a line a comment.  Each non-blank line (after removal of
comments) must be one of the following:

1. Inclusion of another manifest

   include <relative_path>

2. A test item

   <failure-type>* <type> <url> <url_ref>


   a. <failure-type> (optional) is one of the following:

      fails  The test passes if the images of the two renderings DO NOT
             meet the conditions specified in the <type>.

      fails-if(condition) If the condition is met, the test passes if the 
                          images of the two renderings DO NOT meet the 
                          conditions of <type>. If the condition is not met,
                          the test passes if the conditions of <type> are met.

      random  The results of the test are random and therefore not to be
              considered in the output.

      random-if(condition) The results of the test are random if a given
                           condition is met.

      skip  This test should not be run. This is useful when a test fails in a
            catastrophic way, such as crashing or hanging the browser. Using
            'skip' is prefered to simply commenting out the test because we
            want to report the test failure at the end of the test run.

      skip-if(condition) If the condition is met, the test is not run. This is
                         useful if, for example, the test crashes only on a
                         particular platform (i.e. it allows us to get test
                         coverage on the other platforms).

      Examples of using conditions:
          fails-if(MOZ_WIDGET_TOOLKIT=="windows") ...
          fails-if(MOZ_WIDGET_TOOLKIT=="cocoa") ...
          fails-if(MOZ_WIDGET_TOOLKIT=="gtk2") ...

   b. <type> is one of the following:

      ==  The test passes if the images of the two renderings are the
      !=  The test passes if the images of the two renderings are 

   c. <url> is either a relative file path or an absolute URL for the
      test page

   d. <url_ref> is either a relative file path or an absolute URL for
      the reference page

   The only difference between <url> and <url_ref> is that results of
   the test are reported using <url> only.

This test manifest format could be used by other harnesses, such as ones
that do not depend on XUL, or even ones testing other layout engines.

Running Tests

At some point in the future there will hopefully be a cleaner way to do
this.  For now, go to your object directory, and run (perhaps using
MOZ_NO_REMOTE=1 or the -profile <directory> option)

./firefox -reftest /path/to/srcdir/mozilla/layout/reftests/reftest.list > reftest.out

and then search/grep reftest.out for "UNEXPECTED".

There are two scripts provided to convert the reftest.out to HTML. converts reftest.out into simple HTML, stripping
lines from the log that aren't relevant. converts
the output into html that makes it easier to visually check for

Testable Areas

This framework is capable of testing many areas of the layout engine.
It is particularly well-suited to testing dynamic change handling (by
comparison to the static end-result as a reference) and incremental
layout (comparison of a script-interrupted layout to one that was not).
However, it is also possible to write tests for many other things that
can be described in terms of equivalence, for example:

 * CSS cascading could be tested by comparing the result of a
   complicated set of style rules that makes a word green to <span

 * <canvas> compositing operators could be tested by comparing the
   result of drawing using canvas to a block-level element with the
   desired color as a CSS background-color.

 * CSS counters could be tested by comparing the text output by counters
   with a page containing the text written out

 * complex margin collapsing could be tested by comparing the complex
   case to a case where the margin is written out, or where the margin
   space is created by an element with 'height' and transparent

When it is not possible to test by equivalence, it may be possible to
test by non-equivalence.  For example, testing justification in cases
with more than two words, or more than three different words, is
difficult.  However, it is simple to test that justified text is at
least displayed differently from left-, center-, or right-aligned text.

Writing Tests

When writing tests for this framework, it is important for the test to
depend only on behaviors that are known to be correct and permanent.
For example, tests should not depend on default font sizes, default
margins of the body element, the default style sheet used for HTML, the
default appearance of form controls, or anything else that can be

In general, the best way to achieve this is to make the test and the
reference identical in as many aspects as possible.  For example:

  Good test markup:
    <div style="color:green"><table><tr><td><span>green

  Good reference markup:
    <div><table><tr><td><span style="color:green">green

  BAD reference markup:
    <!-- 3px matches the default cellspacing and cellpadding -->
    <div style="color:green; padding: 3px">green

  BAD test markup:
    <!-- span doesn't change the positioning, so skip it -->
    <div style="color:green"><table><tr><td>green

Asynchronous Tests

Normally reftest takes a snapshot of the given markup's rendering right
after the load event fires for content. If your test needs to postpone
the moment the snapshot is taken, it should make sure a class
'reftest-wait' is on the root element by the moment the load event
fires. The easiest way to do this is to put it in the markup, e.g.:
    <html class="reftest-wait">

When your test is ready, you should remove this class from the root
element, for example using this code:
    document.documentElement.className = "";

Note that in layout tests it is often enough to trigger layout using 
    document.body.offsetWidth  // HTML example

When possible, you should use this technique instead of making your
test async.

Printing Tests
Now that the patch for bug 374050 has landed
(, it is possible to
create reftests that run in a paginated context.

The page size used is 5in wide and 3in tall (with the default half-inch
margins).  This is to allow tests to have less text and to make the
entire test fit on the screen.

There is a layout/reftests/printing directory for printing reftests; however,
there is nothing special about this directory.  You can put printing reftests
anywhere that is appropriate.

The suggested first lines for any printing test is
<!DOCTYPE html><html class="reftest-print">

The reftest-print class on the root element triggers the reftest to
switch into page mode on load. Fixing the font size is suggested,
although not required, because the pages are a fixed size in inches.

The underlying layout support for this mode isn't really complete; it
doesn't use exactly the same codepath as real print preview/print. In
particular, scripting and frames are likely to cause problems; it is untested,
theough.  That said, it should be sufficient for testing layout issues related
to pagination.