Assert: Unit testing


This feature will be released around end of feb. 2021

Unit testing is a strategy from software engineering to make sure some errors do not occur and other errors do occur.

For errors that you do not want to occur, you can use regular validation. But some errors are good. Assert is basically the opposite of Validate, where you explicitly specify which errors you want to occur, like with Suppress.

Lets say you have a profile that makes sure that any patient resource has no more than two identifiers. If you want to make sure that you properly implemented this, you can create an example Patient that has 3 identifiers, and then you want that example to fail on your profile. If you used regular validaton on that, you will always get errors returned that are actually good. And even more: it would be bad if the error wasn’t there. For that you can add unit tests to your project, using the assert rule.

The assert rule

The assert rule checks for error systems or codes in the output of the validator. If the error is there, the assertion will pass as OK. If the error isn’t there, it will report an error. You could see it as an error-inverter.


The following rule will feed all resources in the invalid-examples folder, that end on .missingref.xml. And it will make sure that there is an error code of 4005 in the output. The full error for missing references is|4005, but just the code is sufficient in most cases.

- files: /invalid-examples/*.missingref.xml
  # action: assert # Can be added for consistency, but not necessary
  assert: 4005 # error code for missing references


The general approach to create unit tests is to put all profiles and extensions in one folder, your good examples in one folder and your failing examples in another. This way you can run the regular validation on all but the failing examples. And run the unit test on those instead of the validator. This is an example of that approach:

- files: /conformance-resources/*.*
  assert: ...

- files: /good-examples/*.json
  assert: ...

- files: /failing-examples/*-cardinality.json
  assert: ...