Imagine you create a Golang application, run it and get a test coverage report from it as a bonus. No unit tests written, no hundreds of mocks/stubs nor workarounds. Sounds too good?

Golang and tests

Golang developers have outstanding support from the tooling to test their code. The testing standard package and its companion go test command provides a solid foundation to test code. If you’re up to writing unit test cases, that is.

I won’t preach to you nor start yet another flame war about types of tests. Suffice it to say that unit tests aren’t my personal preference these days. They lead the developer to focus on technical aspects and not the real use cases of the code. It’s also a chore to maintain when done solely for the sake of coverage.


My exception to this standing is property testing in functional languages. Even more so when coupled with random data generators like the Gen monad from Test.QuickCheck in Haskell. They may sound like unit testing, yet they ensure a defined law of a type holds water with randomized input.

Integration tests

What’s the next best thing then? Integration testing. That means running the code as unmodified as possible. This may trigger some to think about running their entire stack of dependencies. That’s what some call an end-to-end test, and while nice to have it’s often not practical to do constantly or locally.

When I say as unmodified as possible I mean to isolate the invariants. If your code follows a design-driven-based principle such as clean, hexagonal, onion or similar architecture pattern then you’re set. Isolating IO drivers and replacing them with reproducible ones should be a breeze.

Instrumenting code

With that in place, we then arrive at the Golang 1.20 coverage profiling automatic instrumentation. This gem allows you to build an instrumented version of your application and run it to generate coverage data.

In practice, you may need a separate binary to change IO drivers or make all method/endpoint calls to cover your use cases. With that in place you can then run:


go run -cover ./path/to/your/app/pkg/...
go tool covdata textfmt -i="${GOCOVERDIR}" -o=gcov.txt
go tool cover -func=gcov.txt

You can optionally select specific packages to report coverage for with -pkgs. That’s useful to exclude test/telemetry packages or other binary sources that don’t belong in a coverage report.


I got an outstanding 72% coverage over my anilistarr project on my first try using 80 lines of code. With this new option, I don’t need to imagine testing anymore; I can isolate my code as usual and get tests, dead code reports and coverage almost for free. 🖤

What do you think of this option provided by Golang? 😊