An extensible matchers library for FiveAM

Upstream URL


Arnold Noronha <>


Apache License, Version 2.0



fiveam-matchers is an extensible, composable matchers library for fiveam.


It's best to explain this with examples:

(test stuff
  (let ((res (+ 1 2)))
   (assert-that res (equal-to 3))))

If that fails, you'll get telling you what you what the expected and actual results are. So far so good.

What about this:

(test stuff
  (let ((res (list (+ 1 2) (+ 2 2))))
    (assert-that res
            (has-item 3)))))

That makes sense too, it's basically just saying 3 is in the result list. This is can be done with regular fiveam macros though. Let's try something harder.

(test stuff
   (let ((res (list "car" "foobar")))
     (assert-that res
        (has-item (starts-with "foo")))))

This is testing that there's one item that starts with "foo". This demonstrates the composibility of matchers. starts-with is a matcher, and has-item is a matcher. If the test fails, you'll get a message that looks something like this: none of the elements matched: a string that starts with "foo".

Custom matchers

Our current set of matchers is pretty basic, we usually build matchers as and when we need it. If you need a new matcher, it's pretty easy to define it (and yes it composes with existing matchers)

The matcher API is inspired by Java's Hamcrest. We think it works nicely, and it gives us a nice template of nomenclature to copy from.

Let's look at how the starts-with is implemented.

First we define a matcher class. The name here isn't important since it won't be exposed to the end-user of your matcher:

(defclass starts-with-matcher (matcher)
  ((prefix :initarg :prefix
           :reader prefix)))

Define a method that creates the matcher:

(defmethod starts-with ((prefix string))
  (make-instance 'starts-with-matcher
                  :prefix prefix))

(A common pattern is defining the method with an argument that's already a matcher, for instance the has-item needs this. The function ensure-matcher is useful to implement this.)

Now we need to do the actual checks:

(defmethod matchesp ((matcher starts-with-matcher)
   (stringp actual)
   (str:starts-with-p (prefix matcher)

The next two methods are not essential. There are defaults implemented, but if you're building a matcher that will be used by other people, we encourage implementing them. It'll give the developer a better error message when the test fails.

Let's create a method to describe the matcher:

(defmethod describe-self ((matcher starts-with-matcher))
  `("a string that starts with `" ,(prefix matcher) "`"))

For convenience, you don't need to explicitly format the message. You can return a list of objects that are all appended to each other. When the test fails this is used to render what was actually expected (as opposed to the what failed).

Finally, we need to describe why the test failed:

(defmethod describe-mismatch ((matcher starts-with-matcher) actual)
  `("expected `" ,actual "` to start with " ,(prefix matcher) ))

When you build a new matcher, try to allow the arguments to be matchers themselves. For instance, if you create a matcher that says an HTML tag has an attribute value, the attribute value does not have to be a string: You can imagine a developer might want to check that class attribute matches having a substring.


In the following APIs, most functions that accept a matcher also accept a value, in which case it's treated as (equal-to value).

  • (equal-to val): check if result is equal to val.
  • (is-not {matcher|value}): check that result does not match the given matcher
  • (has-all {matchers|value}*): check that result matches all of the matchers
  • (has-any {matchers|value}*): check if the result matches at least one of the matchers
  • (has-typep 'type): check if the result is of type
  • (is-string val): check if result is string
  • (contains {matchers|value}*): Check if the result is a list for which each element matches the corresponding matchers. (Note: the name can be confusing. It "reads" like the result should contain that element, but that's not what it is. We've kept the name to be consistent with Hamcrest).
  • (has-item {matcher|value}): Check if the result is a list that has an item that matches the matcher.
  • (does-not-have-item {matcher|value}): Check if the result is a list that does not have the specific item. Equivalent to (every-item (not matcher), but with better descriptions.
  • (has-length num): Check if the result has length equal to the num.
  • (every-item {macher|value}): Check if every item in the list matches the given matcher.
  • (starts-with prefix): Check if the result starts with the given string.
  • (contains-string needle): Check if the result contains the given substring
  • (matches-regex regex): Check if the string matches a regex
  • (described-as "new description" matcher): The same matcher, but with a different description.
  • (is-not-null): that the value is not null
  • (satisfying expr): evaluate the expr with * bound to the value. You can use any variables in the lexical scope. This is a nice catch all matcher. For instance, an evenp matcher looks like (satisfying (evenp *)).
  • (is-string): Check if the object is a string
  • (is-not-empty): Check if the string is not an empty string (empty string includes NIL).

Finally, you can use the matchers using the assert-that: (assert-that test-expression {matcher}*). Note that you can provide multiple matchers to that expression, it's equivalent.

Installation with Quicklisp

(ql:quickload :fiveam-matchers)


This isn't a complete set of matchers. Aspirationally, we want to have a version of all the matchers in Hamcrest, but we'll probably just build them as we need them. Please send us Pull Requests for your matchers!


Arnold Noronha


Apache License, Version 2.0

Dependencies (3)

  • cl-ppcre
  • cl-str
  • fiveam

Dependents (1)

  • GitHub
  • Quicklisp