Code Coverage and Xcode

Pete Smith
Feb 25, 2018 · 4 min read

Unit testing is invaluable in helping us to identify problems early in the development cycle, both in terms of the implementation and the specification. It also facilitates change, providing confidence that any future changes to the tested code won’t break its expected behaviour.

Key to unit testing is code coverage, which indicates what percent of the tested code was executed when the corresponding unit tests were run. Generally, we want to have a high percentage of code coverage.

Xcode 7 introduced a code coverage feature which allows us to measure and visualize code coverage.

In this short post, we will learn:

  • How to measure code coverage in Xcode
  • How to increase code coverage

For the purposes of demonstration, we will look at the unit tests for BikeProvider, a tiny Swift library I created to provide access to bike share information.

How to measure code coverage in Xcode

To measure and visualize code coverage for a project, follow these steps:

  • Enable code coverage date gathering. To do this, go to Product › Scheme › Edit Scheme... , and select Test from the left hand side menu. Under the Info section, check the Gather coverage data box.
Enabling code coverage data gathering in Xcode
  • To run all unit tests for a test target, in this case BikeProvider, first open the Test navigator in Xcode’s navigation pane. Then, select the small Run button next to your test target name.
Running all unit tests for a test target via Xcode’s test navigator
  • Now open the Report navigator in Xcode’s navigation pane, and select the Test report from the list. This should open up a list of the tests that were just run and indicate which passed and failed. In this case, they all passed.
Xcode test report
  • To view code coverage, select the Coverage tab. Xcode will display the overall code coverage for the framework, and we can expand this to get coverage data on individual files and functions.
Code coverage, expanded to show coverage for individual files and functions

How to increase code coverage

Now that we know how to measure unit test code coverage, let’s see how we can increase it.

A good approach to take is to work through all the types in our project, adding tests where possible for each type.

This can be broken down into two steps:

1. If possible, ensure every public method has at least one corresponding test

(This might not always be desirable, such as when your testing approach is to follow behaviour-driven development.)

We will concentrate on CityProvider.swift (whose coverage report is expanded in the previous image), which right now has ~36% code coverage.

This file consists of 4 public static methods and 1 private static method. It currently has 3 corresponding tests. We should ideally be testing each ‘unit’ of code, so we can first start by adding a test for each for our 4 public methods.

Once we have at least one test for each method, we run the tests again, and check our coverage. Results:

Increasing code coverage by adding more unit tests

Awesome! By adding just one more test, we have increased code coverage for CityProvider.swift to 75%.

2. Increase code coverage for each public method by investigating exactly which lines were executed

Now that we have at least some coverage for every method in CityProvider.swift, we can take advantage of Xcode’s code coverage measuring capabilities and take a look at exactly what lines of code are being executed by our tests.

In the coverage report, double-click the file we want to investigate, in this case CityProvider.swift. This will open the source editor, but it will look a bit different now that we have enabled code coverage reporting. We now see that on the left, the source editor is highlighting code what has not been executed by our tests; i.e., it highlights areas that require code coverage. Hovering over one of these red-colored areas further highlights the lines which were not executed:

Unexecuted code highlighted in the Xcode source editor

Using the above information, we can reason about how we can write further tests to ensure the above code is executed.

In this case, adding only two more test ensures that nearly 100% of the tested method was executed (i.e there is no red! 😃).

Increasing code coverage by examining the executed lines, and adding unit tests

Awesome! We learned how to measure code coverage in Xcode, and we looked at one approach to iteratively increasing our code coverage for a selected file.

We can now apply what we learned to all code that we write. 🎉

That’s it! 📱🚀👍🏽

Also available on

Zendesk Engineering

Engineering @ Zendesk

Thanks to Alan Hogan

Pete Smith

Written by

Team Lead @zendesk

Zendesk Engineering

Engineering @ Zendesk

More From Medium

More from Zendesk Engineering

More from Zendesk Engineering

Open sourcing node-publisher

Related reads

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade