Extensions: CustomSubjectBuilder

Most custom Subject classes follow a simple pattern. However, in rare cases, you can provide a better API by defining your own that methods in a subclass of CustomSubjectBuilder. We’re aware of two cases in which this is useful. Both of them affect only users who write a longhand assertion, like assertWithMessage(...).about(...).that(...), as opposed to the shortcut assertThat(...).

Problem: Parameterized Subject classes

One use case for CustomSubjectBuilder is a Subject subclass with its own type parameters. For example, IterableOfProtosSubject has a type parameter <M extends Message>. Callers need a way to specify the type of M in expressions like assertWithMessage(...).about(...).that(...). The way to do that is for the that method to have a type parameter: <M> IterableOfProtosSubject<M …> that(M message). But SimpleSubjectBuilder’s that method doesn’t have a type parameter, so it won’t work.

Problem: Multiple Subject classes

Another case addresses a problem that’s less severe but more common: what to do when your library defines multiple Subject classes. The usual solution is to declare a Subject.Factory for each:

import static com.google.common.truth.extension.EmployeeSubject.employees;
import static com.google.common.truth.extension.TeamSubject.teams;

assertWithMessage("converter should look up username")

assertWithMessage("query result should include skip-level employees")

But this forces some users to import multiple factories. And it adds noise to the assertion calls: Why draw readers’ attention to the fact that the first assertion is about an Employee and the second is about a Team? We’d like to be able to write:

import static com.google.common.truth.extension.HumanResourcesTruth.humanResources;

assertWithMessage("converter should look up username")

assertWithMessage("query result should include skip-level employees")

Solution: How to declare custom that methods

Rather than create a Subject.Factory as described in step 2 of the simple pattern, do the following:

  1. Declare a subclass of CustomSubjectBuilder:

    public final class ProtoSubjectBuilder extends CustomSubjectBuilder {}

    The class must be accessible to the tests that will use it―usually public.

    The class should usually be final. (Anyone who wants to provide access to additional Subject classes or other behavior can define a separate CustomSubjectBuilder or other API to expose it.)

  2. Declare a constructor that takes a FailureMetadata:

      ProtoSubjectBuilder(FailureMetadata metadata) {

    The constructor need not be visible to users. They will create instances through a factory you’ll create.

  3. Declare one or more that methods:

      public <M extends Message> IterableOfProtosSubject<..., M, ...> that(
          @Nullable Iterable<M> actual) {
        return new IterableOfProtosSubject<M>(metadata(), actual);

    The methods must be accessible to the tests that will use them―usually public.

    (You may need to make your Subject constructor package-private so that it is accessible from the builder.)

  4. Declare a static factory method that returns a CustomSubjectBuilder.Factory.

    public static CustomSubjectBuilder.Factory<ProtoSubjectBuilder> iterablesOfProtos() {
      return ProtoSubjectBuilder::new;

    The CustomSubjectBuilder.Factory should usually be implemented with a method reference, as shown above. Even if it’s not, your method should declare a return type of CustomSubjectBuilder.Factory<YourType>, not your implementation class.

    The static factory method must be accessible to the tests that will use it―typically, public.

    We recommend naming this method in the plural form (e.g., EmployeeSubject.employees(), PersonSubject.people(), etc.).

    We recommend putting this method on your Subject class itself. Or, if your library defines multiple Subject subclasses, you may wish to create a single CustomSubjectBuilder with multiple that methods, one for each. If you go that direction, you’ll probably create a single class (like ProtoTruth) that contains the protos() factory method that supports all the types. (And you’ll use this same class to define all your assertThat methods.)

    Now users can treat your CustomSubjectBuilder.Factory just like a Subject.Factory:

    import static com.google.common.truth.extension.proto.ProtoTruth.protos;
    assertWithMessage("parser should have used last of multiple values")

    (But, as with the Subject.Factory approach, most users will use your assertThat shortcut instead.)