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InfoQ Homepage News PartCover: New Open Source Code Coverage Tool

PartCover: New Open Source Code Coverage Tool


Last September Peter Waldschmidt, the creator of NCover, made NCover a commercial product. NCover was a free tool and had become a popular choice, especially among open source projects. Gnoso, Peter’s company, has continued to embrace the open source community by providing free licenses to open source projects. This has not been enough for some open source projects. In response PartCover has be receiving increased attention.

PartCover is an open source code coverage tool for .Net very similar to NCover. It includes a console application, GUI coverage browser, and xsl transforms for use in CC.Net.

SharpDevelop, an open source IDE for .NET, has switched to PartCover as of their Beta 1 for version 3.0.

Previously, the addin used NCover for calculating code coverage (this is a metric you gain by writing unit tests). However, recently NCover was turned into a commercial product. Because we only include / support tools that are free to use for anyone (commercial or open source / hobby development), we switched to a different tool - PartCover.

The project leader for TreeSurgeon, Bil Simser, reached out to the community looking for an alternative to NCover.

For the longest time, I've been using NCover for coverage. It was free, gave good results and with NCoverExplorer and CI integration it was the perfect tool. Easy to use, easy to setup, and worth the typical hassle of new tools (setup, learning, configuration, etc.)

NCover has since gone commercial and the old versions won't run properly against 3.0/3.5 code. I'm ditching NCover support in TreeSurgeon because of this. TS nees to be friction free and something anyone can just grab and run and not have to deal with buying or obtaining licenses for products the generated code depends on. I looked at Clover.NET as an alternative (last time I checked it was free?) but it's $600 just for an "academic" version.

So what's with coverage and .NET these days? Are these the only options? Have all the open source/free tools gone the way of the Dodo for coverage and .NET 3.0 projects? My quick Google checks this freezing morning (it was minus 38 as I drove in this morning, that's -36 in Fahrenheit kids) don't show anything.

InfoQ: Will you be switching to PartCover like SharpDevelop 3.0?

Bil Simser: Yes, we’re dropping NCover 1.5.8 support in the next release of Tree Surgeon. If you’re building a 2.0 tree, you’ll get the option to use NCover or PartCover. If you’re building a 3.x version, you only get PartCover.

InfoQ: Have you played with PartCover yet? If so what are your thoughts on it?

Bil Simser: I found it doesn’t have as much “flair” as NCover did and there is no PartCover.Explorer (yet) so hopefully some of those NCover extensions will move to PartCover soon. The tool was easy to get going, but lack of documentation meant I spent most of an afternoon trying out different command line options to get the right result. In the end I think PartCover is a good tool for coverage and .NET projects but it’s young and needs to grow.

InfoQ: Is PartCover Coverage Browser the analog of NCover Explorer?

Bil Simser: It is, but it’s pretty simplistic. Does the job, but needs some improvement in the UI and features.

With attention from TreeSurgeon and SharpDevelop PartCover stand a good chance of filling the void left by NCover’s move to a commercial product.


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