Code Coverage of Individual Tests with SonarQube and JaCoCo

This post explains how to enable SonarQube to gather test code coverage metrics of individual tests. Code coverage tools typically produce a report showing the code coverage (by line, branch, etc.) for the combined effect of all the tests executed during a given test session. This is case, for example, when you run unit tests in continuous integration. With the help of SonarQube and JaCoCo, it is possible to gather coverage metrics split at the level of the individual test case (test method in JUnit or TestNG). To enable this, there is some special configuration required that we are showing in this post.

The Environment

The following process has been verified with SonarQube 4.1.2 and 4.3.2 versions, but it should work with SonarQube 3.7.x (latest LTS release), too. The application code we have used to verify the setup is the familiar Spring Pet Clinic application, enhanced to support Tomcat 7 and Spring 3 (see this post here for reference on updates needed in Pet Clinic: The code can be downloaded from GitHub in the repository:

The Instructions

The instructions are really simple, once you’ve figured out how to connect all the dots. All that is required is to add some specific configuration to Maven Surefire plug-in (Surefire is the plug-in that is tasked with the unit test execution, and it supports JUnit and TestNG). As this specific configuration should not impact the regular unit test execution, it is recommended to include the needed configuration in a separate profile that will be executed only when the SonarQube analysis is performed. Let’s describe the required changes in the pom.xml file, section by section.

Build Section

No changes are needed here. However, you should take note of any customised configuration of Maven Surefire to be sure it is also applied to the profile we are going to create. In the case of Spring Pet Clinic, this is the relevant portion of the POM we are writing down for reference:


This piece of configuration is telling Surefire to: 1) exclude the integration tests for the execution of unit tests (integration tests are covered by Surefire’s twin plug-in, Failsafe); and 2) disable the byte code verifier, preventing runtime errors when classes are instrumented (i.e. when adding mocks, or TopLink enhancements).

Dependencies Section

Again no changes are needed in this section. We just wanted to note that if your project is already leveraging JaCoCo to gather integration test coverage metrics, and is explicitly referring to JaCoCo artefact in this section, it can be left – no conflicts have been identified so far. Anyway it should not be needed here, so it’s probably safer to remove it from this section.

Profiles Section

All the required changes come in this section. And they are very clean to add, as they all require only to add a new profile to the POM. This profile will configure a special listener for Surefire that will ensure that coverage metrics for each individual test case are appropriately gathered. To guarantee a successful test execution, we will maintain here the same configuration that appears in the build section of the POM. Finally, the profile will add a new dependency to the artefact that contains the listener code. The result is this:

 <!-- calculate coverage metrics per test with SonarQube and JaCoCo -->
      <!-- same configuration as in the regular test execution goal -->
      <!-- plus argLine parameter configured by JaCoCo prepare-agent -->
      <argLine>${argLine} -XX:-UseSplitVerifier</argLine>
      <!-- new configuration needed for coverage per test -->

A piece of warning around the JaCoCo listener artefact version. Although it is unclear in the documentation, it seems that the best results are obtained when the JaCoCo listener version matches that of the Java plug-in installed in SonarQube. In this case, as the Java plug-in that we have installed in SonarQube is version 2.3, we have used the listener artefact version 2.3. We also tested with listener 1.2 with same good results, but to prevent any future conflict, we recommend keeping versions aligned.

Running the Analysis

Once the changes in the project configuration are done, you just need to re-execute a SonarQube analysis to see the new reports.

Depending on which SonarQube Java version you have installed, the configuration differs a bit.

Running the Analysis in Older Versions

When the Java plug-in version in use is 2.1 or an earlier version, the profile should be enabled when the analysis executes, and only when the analysis executes. This means that it is now a requirement to launch the sonar:sonar goal as a separate Maven build (it was recommended to do so, but in many cases you could execute all the targets in one run). In the case of our version of Pet Clinic:

>mvn clean verify -P cargo-tomcat,selenium-tests,jmeter-tests
>mvn sonar:sonar -P coverage-per-test

If your build is triggered by a Jenkins job, then the new profile should be added to the post-build action as can be seen in this screenshot: sonar-post-build

Running the Analysis in Newer Versions

When the Java plug-in version in use is 2.2 or newer, code coverage is no longer executed during the analysis. Therefore you should configure the build to gather the code coverage metrics first:

>mvn clean org.jacoco:jacoco-maven-plugin: -P coverage-per-test,cargo-tomcat,selenium-tests,jmeter-tests
>mvn sonar:sonar -P coverage-per-test

If your build is triggered by a Jenkins job, then the JaCoCo prepare agent goal and the new profile should be added to the build action as can be seen in this screenshot:


Analysis Results

Once the analysis is completed, the code coverage reports get some new interesting views. When clicking on any test on the test view, a new column labelled ‘Covered Lines’ shows the individual hits for each test method in the class: sonar-test-summary When the link on Covered Lines value is followed, a new widget shows containing all the classes hit by that test method, and the touched lines per class: sonar-test-detail When the link under each of the classes is followed, a new widget appears showing the class source coloured with the actual line/branch hits:


Users can also get to this view if navigating through other views, as components or violations drill-down. Once the class level is reached, users can use the ‘Coverage’ tab to get this information:

By default, the decoration shown is ‘Lines to cover’, showing the code coverage from all tests combined. Use the drop-down list and select ‘Per test -> Covered lines’ and then select the right text case in the new drop-down list that will appear:


Measuring code coverage of individual tests is a very useful feature to have in development projects. Code coverage metrics alone may not be sufficient to identify that the rights tests are being executed and they are touching the right functionality. With the ability to identify which portions of the code are executed by any test case, developers and tester can ensure that the expected code logic is tested, versus what can be obtained with other code coverage tools that only gives a combined coverage report.


16 thoughts on “Code Coverage of Individual Tests with SonarQube and JaCoCo

  1. In case your default argLine is not “simple” you might need to use the following snippet:
    {argLine} -XX:-UseSplitVerifier

    Otherwise you might run into ClassNotFoundException – e.g. java.lang.ClassNotFoundException: org.jacoco.agent.rt.RT

    1. Yes, that’s correct. I’ve updated the post including that parameter. Also for your information, I’ve updated the Spring Pet Clinic example mentioned at the beginning of the post with a slightly different approach, that does not use the JaCoCo prepare-agent goal. I prefer this new way because it is pretty much the same needed for integration tests, and in my opinion makes configuration clearer and consistent for the two kind of tests. See here:
      This updated version of Pet Clinic has the OpenJPA tests ignored, as with Java 8 more strict bytecode verifier I’ve not been able to run them without errors. This means that the UserSplitVerifier option is not needed.
      Once again, thanks for pointing out the missing ${argLine}!

      1. It is caused by the bytecode verifier in the JVM. Typically it happens when you have two libraries instrumenting bytecodes, like PowerMock and JaCoCo, or JPA and JaCoCo.

  2. Hi if you’re using Oracle 12c as your app’s database, then the -useSplitVerifier arg will cause startup issues. stack frames related exceptions. Is there another way around this. I know this is a very late comment, but I request you to kindly respond.

  3. Hi,
    I am running sonar 4.3.2. Our DB team is planning to upgrade Oracle to 12C. Do I need to upgrade my sonar version as well or Oracle 12C will work fine with Sonar 4.3.2.

    1. I can’t say. I suggest that you post the question un stackoverflow. SonarQube team actively monitors and answers questions posted there by users.

  4. Hello, thanks for this article. Is it possible to have a Jacoco Sonar listener to measure per-test-coverage for integration tests?

    1. Hello. As far as I know, it is not possible. You need to have the listener and agent both in same build process so for each test executed the listener can order a separate set of coverage metrics. If you can run your ITs self-contained, I.e. with Arquillian and embedded container, then technically they are like UTs and you can obtain the coverage per test. In any other case, your ITs run from Maven Failsafe and point to a deployed app elsewhere, I.e. Cargo or Docker or Vagrant -driven.

  5. Very nice post, thank you for sharing this. Quick question, is the coverage of static fields accurate? Suppose you have 2 test cases (t1 and t2) and one class under test with a static field. Note: only t1 covers this static field. t1 is executed and its coverage collected (as expected the static field gets covered). Your JaCoCoControler “dumps” the coverage of t1, and t2 is executed and its coverage collected. The question now is, do all test cases executed after t1, e.g., t2, fully cover the static field? As all test cases would be executed on the same JVM I would say yes. Or does JaCoCo’s dump method somehow “reset/reload” classes?

    1. that’s a question foe JaCoCo team, I guess, but as per JLS if the static initialiser is only hit once, so shall be the instrumentation and hence the results

  6. hi ,
    Is there any way that we could write any methods from the Jacoco APIS to find this individual Test coverage, as we do not use Sonar cube.
    Also should the Jacoco be running online or offline for collecting this type of individual meticrs per test?

    1. Re the API, I suggest speaking with JaCoCo team. JaCoCo is open source so I guess the answer is Yes. Re the mode, what do you mean by online/offlline?

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