autogold – automatically update your Go tests Hexops logo

Go Reference

Go CI codecov Go Report Card

autogold makes go test -update automatically update your Go tests (golden files and Go values in e.g. foo_test.go.

~5m introduction available on YouTube:

“It’s 2021: you shouldn’t have to update Go tests manually”

Automatic golden files

Write in a Go test:

import ""
autogold.Equal(t, got)

go test -update will now create/update a testdata/.golden file for you automatically.

Automatic inline test updating

Write in a Go test:

want := autogold.Want("my_test", nil)
want.Equal(t, got)

go test -update will automatically update the autogold.Want("my_test", ...) call with the Go syntax for whatever value your test got (complex Go struct, slices, strings, etc.)


Anytime your test produces a result that is unexpected, you’ll get very nice diffs showing exactly what changed. It does this by converting values at runtime directly to a formatted Go AST, and using the same diffing library the Go language server uses:

--- FAIL: TestEqual (0.08s)
    autogold.go:91: mismatch (-want +got):
        --- want
        +++ got
        @@ -1 +1 @@
        +&example.Baz{Name: "Jane", Age: 31}


Use table-driven Go subtests? autogold.Want and go test -update will automatically find and replace the nil values for you:

func TestTime(t *testing.T) {
	testCases := []struct {
		gmt  string
		loc  string
		want autogold.Value
		{"12:31", "Europe/Zuri", autogold.Want("Europe", nil)},
		{"12:31", "America/New_York", autogold.Want("America", nil)},
		{"08:08", "Australia/Sydney", autogold.Want("Australia", nil)},
	for _, tc := range testCases {
		t.Run(tc.want.Name(), func(t *testing.T) {
			loc, err := time.LoadLocation(tc.loc)
			if err != nil {
				t.Fatal("could not load location")
			gmt, _ := time.Parse("15:04", tc.gmt)
			got := gmt.In(loc).Format("15:04")
			tc.want.Equal(t, got)

It works by finding the relevant autogold.Want("", ...) call below the named TestTime function, and then replacing the nil parameter (or anything that was there.)

What are golden files, when should they be used?

Golden files are used by the Go authors for testing the standard library, the gofmt tool, etc. and are a common pattern in the Go community for snapshot testing. See also “Testing with golden files in Go” – Chris Reeves

Golden files make the most sense when you’d otherwise have to write a complex multi-line string or large Go structure inline in your test, making it hard to read.

In most cases, you should prefer inline snapshots, subtest golden values, or traditional Go tests.

Custom formatting

valast is used to produce Go syntax at runtime for the Go value you provide. If the default output is not to your liking, you have options:

  • Pass a string to autogold: It will be formatted as a Go string for you in the resulting .golden file / in Go tests.
  • Use your own formatting (JSON, etc.): Make your got value of type autogold.Raw("foobar"), and it will be used as-is for .golden files (not allowed with inline tests.)
  • Exclude unexported fields: autogold.Equal(t, got, autogold.ExportedOnly())

Backwards compatibility

  • As is the case with gofmt, different Go versions may produce different formattings (although rare.)
  • Minor versions of autogold (e.g. v1.0, v1.1) may alter the formatting of .golden files, although we will be mindful of such changes.
  • Major versions of autogold (e.g. v1, v2) will be used for any major changes in output that would be difficult to review (we expect this will be rare in practice.)

Alternatives comparison

The following are alternatives to autogold, making note of the differences we found that let us to create autogold: