ClickHouse Testing 

Functional Tests 

Functional tests are the most simple and convenient to use. Most of ClickHouse features can be tested with functional tests and they are mandatory to use for every change in ClickHouse code that can be tested that way.

Each functional test sends one or multiple queries to the running ClickHouse server and compares the result with reference.

Tests are located in queries directory. There are two subdirectories: stateless and stateful. Stateless tests run queries without any preloaded test data - they often create small synthetic datasets on the fly, within the test itself. Stateful tests require preloaded test data from Yandex.Metrica and not available to general public. We tend to use only stateless tests and avoid adding new stateful tests.

Each test can be one of two types: .sql and .sh. .sql test is the simple SQL script that is piped to clickhouse-client --multiquery --testmode. .sh test is a script that is run by itself. SQL tests are generally preferable to .sh tests. You should use .sh tests only when you have to test some feature that cannot be exercised from pure SQL, such as piping some input data into clickhouse-client or testing clickhouse-local.

Running a Test Locally 

Start the ClickHouse server locally, listening on the default port (9000). To
run, for example, the test 01428_hash_set_nan_key, change to the repository
folder and run the following command:

PATH=$PATH:<path to clickhouse-client> tests/clickhouse-test 01428_hash_set_nan_key

For more options, see tests/clickhouse-test --help. You can simply run all tests or run subset of tests filtered by substring in test name: ./clickhouse-test substring. There are also options to run tests in parallel or in randomized order.

Adding a New Test 

To add new test, create a .sql or .sh file in queries/0_stateless directory, check it manually and then generate .reference file in the following way: clickhouse-client -n --testmode < 00000_test.sql > 00000_test.reference or ./ > ./00000_test.reference.

Tests should use (create, drop, etc) only tables in test database that is assumed to be created beforehand; also tests can use temporary tables.

Choosing the Test Name 

The name of the test starts with a five-digit prefix followed by a descriptive name, such as 00422_hash_function_constexpr.sql. To choose the prefix, find the largest prefix already present in the directory, and increment it by one. In the meantime, some other tests might be added with the same numeric prefix, but this is OK and doesn't lead to any problems, you don't have to change it later.

Some tests are marked with zookeeper, shard or long in their names. zookeeper is for tests that are using ZooKeeper. shard is for tests that requires server to listen 127.0.0.*; distributed or global have the same meaning. long is for tests that run slightly longer that one second. You can disable these groups of tests using --no-zookeeper, --no-shard and --no-long options, respectively. Make sure to add a proper prefix to your test name if it needs ZooKeeper or distributed queries.

Checking for an Error that Must Occur 

Sometimes you want to test that a server error occurs for an incorrect query. We support special annotations for this in SQL tests, in the following form:

select x; -- { serverError 49 }

This test ensures that the server returns an error with code 49 about unknown column x. If there is no error, or the error is different, the test will fail. If you want to ensure that an error occurs on the client side, use clientError annotation instead.

Do not check for a particular wording of error message, it may change in the future, and the test will needlessly break. Check only the error code. If the existing error code is not precise enough for your needs, consider adding a new one.

Testing a Distributed Query 

If you want to use distributed queries in functional tests, you can leverage remote table function with 127.0.0.{1..2} addresses for the server to query itself; or you can use predefined test clusters in server configuration file like test_shard_localhost. Remember to add the words shard or distributed to the test name, so that it is ran in CI in correct configurations, where the server is configured to support distributed queries.

Known Bugs 

If we know some bugs that can be easily reproduced by functional tests, we place prepared functional tests in tests/queries/bugs directory. These tests will be moved to tests/queries/0_stateless when bugs are fixed.

Integration Tests 

Integration tests allow to test ClickHouse in clustered configuration and ClickHouse interaction with other servers like MySQL, Postgres, MongoDB. They are useful to emulate network splits, packet drops, etc. These tests are run under Docker and create multiple containers with various software.

See tests/integration/ on how to run these tests.

Note that integration of ClickHouse with third-party drivers is not tested. Also we currently don’t have integration tests with our JDBC and ODBC drivers.

Unit Tests 

Unit tests are useful when you want to test not the ClickHouse as a whole, but a single isolated library or class. You can enable or disable build of tests with ENABLE_TESTS CMake option. Unit tests (and other test programs) are located in tests subdirectories across the code. To run unit tests, type ninja test. Some tests use gtest, but some are just programs that return non-zero exit code on test failure.

It’s not necessarily to have unit tests if the code is already covered by functional tests (and functional tests are usually much more simple to use).

Performance Tests 

Performance tests allow to measure and compare performance of some isolated part of ClickHouse on synthetic queries. Tests are located at tests/performance. Each test is represented by .xml file with description of test case. Tests are run with docker/tests/performance-comparison tool . See the readme file for invocation.

Each test run one or multiple queries (possibly with combinations of parameters) in a loop. Some tests can contain preconditions on preloaded test dataset.

If you want to improve performance of ClickHouse in some scenario, and if improvements can be observed on simple queries, it is highly recommended to write a performance test. It always makes sense to use perf top or other perf tools during your tests.

Test Tools and Scripts 

Some programs in tests directory are not prepared tests, but are test tools. For example, for Lexer there is a tool src/Parsers/tests/lexer that just do tokenization of stdin and writes colorized result to stdout. You can use these kind of tools as a code examples and for exploration and manual testing.

You can also place pair of files .sh and .reference along with the tool to run it on some predefined input - then script result can be compared to .reference file. These kind of tests are not automated.

Miscellaneous Tests 

There are tests for external dictionaries located at tests/external_dictionaries and for machine learned models in tests/external_models. These tests are not updated and must be transferred to integration tests.

There is separate test for quorum inserts. This test run ClickHouse cluster on separate servers and emulate various failure cases: network split, packet drop (between ClickHouse nodes, between ClickHouse and ZooKeeper, between ClickHouse server and client, etc.), kill -9, kill -STOP and kill -CONT , like Jepsen. Then the test checks that all acknowledged inserts was written and all rejected inserts was not.

Quorum test was written by separate team before ClickHouse was open-sourced. This team no longer work with ClickHouse. Test was accidentally written in Java. For these reasons, quorum test must be rewritten and moved to integration tests.

Manual Testing 

When you develop a new feature, it is reasonable to also test it manually. You can do it with the following steps:

Build ClickHouse. Run ClickHouse from the terminal: change directory to programs/clickhouse-server and run it with ./clickhouse-server. It will use configuration (config.xml, users.xml and files within config.d and users.d directories) from the current directory by default. To connect to ClickHouse server, run programs/clickhouse-client/clickhouse-client.

Note that all clickhouse tools (server, client, etc) are just symlinks to a single binary named clickhouse. You can find this binary at programs/clickhouse. All tools can also be invoked as clickhouse tool instead of clickhouse-tool.

Alternatively you can install ClickHouse package: either stable release from Yandex repository or you can build package for yourself with ./release in ClickHouse sources root. Then start the server with sudo service clickhouse-server start (or stop to stop the server). Look for logs at /etc/clickhouse-server/clickhouse-server.log.

When ClickHouse is already installed on your system, you can build a new clickhouse binary and replace the existing binary:

$ sudo service clickhouse-server stop
$ sudo cp ./clickhouse /usr/bin/
$ sudo service clickhouse-server start

Also you can stop system clickhouse-server and run your own with the same configuration but with logging to terminal:

$ sudo service clickhouse-server stop
$ sudo -u clickhouse /usr/bin/clickhouse server --config-file /etc/clickhouse-server/config.xml

Example with gdb:

$ sudo -u clickhouse gdb --args /usr/bin/clickhouse server --config-file /etc/clickhouse-server/config.xml

If the system clickhouse-server is already running and you don’t want to stop it, you can change port numbers in your config.xml (or override them in a file in config.d directory), provide appropriate data path, and run it.

clickhouse binary has almost no dependencies and works across wide range of Linux distributions. To quick and dirty test your changes on a server, you can simply scp your fresh built clickhouse binary to your server and then run it as in examples above.

Testing Environment 

Before publishing release as stable we deploy it on testing environment. Testing environment is a cluster that process 1/39 part of Yandex.Metrica data. We share our testing environment with Yandex.Metrica team. ClickHouse is upgraded without downtime on top of existing data. We look at first that data is processed successfully without lagging from realtime, the replication continue to work and there is no issues visible to Yandex.Metrica team. First check can be done in the following way:

SELECT hostName() AS h, any(version()), any(uptime()), max(UTCEventTime), count() FROM remote('example01-01-{1..3}t', merge, hits) WHERE EventDate >= today() - 2 GROUP BY h ORDER BY h;

In some cases we also deploy to testing environment of our friend teams in Yandex: Market, Cloud, etc. Also we have some hardware servers that are used for development purposes.

Load Testing 

After deploying to testing environment we run load testing with queries from production cluster. This is done manually.

Make sure you have enabled query_log on your production cluster.

Collect query log for a day or more:

$ clickhouse-client --query="SELECT DISTINCT query FROM system.query_log WHERE event_date = today() AND query LIKE '%ym:%' AND query NOT LIKE '%system.query_log%' AND type = 2 AND is_initial_query" > queries.tsv

This is a way complicated example. type = 2 will filter queries that are executed successfully. query LIKE '%ym:%' is to select relevant queries from Yandex.Metrica. is_initial_query is to select only queries that are initiated by client, not by ClickHouse itself (as parts of distributed query processing).

scp this log to your testing cluster and run it as following:

$ clickhouse benchmark --concurrency 16 < queries.tsv

(probably you also want to specify a --user)

Then leave it for a night or weekend and go take a rest.

You should check that clickhouse-server doesn’t crash, memory footprint is bounded and performance not degrading over time.

Precise query execution timings are not recorded and not compared due to high variability of queries and environment.

Build Tests 

Build tests allow to check that build is not broken on various alternative configurations and on some foreign systems. Tests are located at ci directory. They run build from source inside Docker, Vagrant, and sometimes with qemu-user-static inside Docker. These tests are under development and test runs are not automated.


Normally we release and run all tests on a single variant of ClickHouse build. But there are alternative build variants that are not thoroughly tested. Examples:

  • build on FreeBSD
  • build on Debian with libraries from system packages
  • build with shared linking of libraries
  • build on AArch64 platform
  • build on PowerPc platform

For example, build with system packages is bad practice, because we cannot guarantee what exact version of packages a system will have. But this is really needed by Debian maintainers. For this reason we at least have to support this variant of build. Another example: shared linking is a common source of trouble, but it is needed for some enthusiasts.

Though we cannot run all tests on all variant of builds, we want to check at least that various build variants are not broken. For this purpose we use build tests.

Testing for Protocol Compatibility 

When we extend ClickHouse network protocol, we test manually that old clickhouse-client works with new clickhouse-server and new clickhouse-client works with old clickhouse-server (simply by running binaries from corresponding packages).

Help from the Compiler 

Main ClickHouse code (that is located in dbms directory) is built with -Wall -Wextra -Werror and with some additional enabled warnings. Although these options are not enabled for third-party libraries.

Clang has even more useful warnings - you can look for them with -Weverything and pick something to default build.

For production builds, gcc is used (it still generates slightly more efficient code than clang). For development, clang is usually more convenient to use. You can build on your own machine with debug mode (to save battery of your laptop), but please note that compiler is able to generate more warnings with -O3 due to better control flow and inter-procedure analysis. When building with clang in debug mode, debug version of libc++ is used that allows to catch more errors at runtime.


Address sanitizer 

We run functional and integration tests under ASan on per-commit basis.

Valgrind (Memcheck) 

We run functional tests under Valgrind overnight. It takes multiple hours. Currently there is one known false positive in re2 library, see this article.

Undefined behaviour sanitizer 

We run functional and integration tests under ASan on per-commit basis.

Thread sanitizer 

We run functional tests under TSan on per-commit basis. We still don’t run integration tests under TSan on per-commit basis.

Memory sanitizer 

Currently we still don’t use MSan.

Debug allocator 

Debug version of jemalloc is used for debug build.


ClickHouse fuzzing is implemented both using libFuzzer and random SQL queries.
All the fuzz testing should be performed with sanitizers (Address and Undefined).

LibFuzzer is used for isolated fuzz testing of library code. Fuzzers are implemented as part of test code and have “_fuzzer” name postfixes.
Fuzzer example can be found at src/Parsers/tests/lexer_fuzzer.cpp. LibFuzzer-specific configs, dictionaries and corpus are stored at tests/fuzz.
We encourage you to write fuzz tests for every functionality that handles user input.

Fuzzers are not built by default. To build fuzzers both -DENABLE_FUZZING=1 and -DENABLE_TESTS=1 options should be set.
We recommend to disable Jemalloc while building fuzzers. Configuration used to integrate ClickHouse fuzzing to
Google OSS-Fuzz can be found at docker/fuzz.

We also use simple fuzz test to generate random SQL queries and to check that the server doesn’t die executing them.
You can find it in This test should be run continuously (overnight and longer).

Security Audit 

People from Yandex Security Team do some basic overview of ClickHouse capabilities from the security standpoint.

Static Analyzers 

We run PVS-Studio on per-commit basis. We have evaluated clang-tidy, Coverity, cppcheck, PVS-Studio, tscancode. You will find instructions for usage in tests/instructions/ directory. Also you can read the article in russian.

If you use CLion as an IDE, you can leverage some clang-tidy checks out of the box.


FORTIFY_SOURCE is used by default. It is almost useless, but still makes sense in rare cases and we don’t disable it.

Code Style 

Code style rules are described here.

To check for some common style violations, you can use utils/check-style script.

To force proper style of your code, you can use clang-format. File .clang-format is located at the sources root. It mostly corresponding with our actual code style. But it’s not recommended to apply clang-format to existing files because it makes formatting worse. You can use clang-format-diff tool that you can find in clang source repository.

Alternatively you can try uncrustify tool to reformat your code. Configuration is in uncrustify.cfg in the sources root. It is less tested than clang-format.

CLion has its own code formatter that has to be tuned for our code style.

Metrica B2B Tests 

Each ClickHouse release is tested with Yandex Metrica and AppMetrica engines. Testing and stable versions of ClickHouse are deployed on VMs and run with a small copy of Metrica engine that is processing fixed sample of input data. Then results of two instances of Metrica engine are compared together.

These tests are automated by separate team. Due to high number of moving parts, tests are fail most of the time by completely unrelated reasons, that are very difficult to figure out. Most likely these tests have negative value for us. Nevertheless these tests was proved to be useful in about one or two times out of hundreds.

Test Coverage 

As of July 2018 we don’t track test coverage.

Test Automation 

We run tests with Yandex internal CI and job automation system named “Sandbox”.

Build jobs and tests are run in Sandbox on per commit basis. Resulting packages and test results are published in GitHub and can be downloaded by direct links. Artifacts are stored eternally. When you send a pull request on GitHub, we tag it as “can be tested” and our CI system will build ClickHouse packages (release, debug, with address sanitizer, etc) for you.

We don’t use Travis CI due to the limit on time and computational power.
We don’t use Jenkins. It was used before and now we are happy we are not using Jenkins.

Original article

Rating: 4.2 - 5 votes

Was this content helpful?