Introducing the MSTest Runner – CLI, Visual Studio, & More

In the ever-evolving world of software testing, automation tools play a pivotal role in maintaining quality and streamlining development cycles. Among these tools, the MSTest Runner is becoming increasingly popular for its versatility and seamless integration into the Microsoft ecosystem. This blog post is tailor-made for developers, QA engineers, and test automation aficionados looking to streamline their testing processes using this powerful testing harness. Whether you are a novice exploring test automation or a seasoned specialist seeking to optimize your workflow, the MSTest Runner can be a game-changer. Here's a walk-through of the tool's key features and how it can benefit your test automation strategy.

Overview of MSTest Runner Usage

Test automation has transformed from an auxiliary process to a critical strategy for swift and robust software development. At the heart of this transformation, tools like MSTest Runner stand out for their flexibility and performance. MSTest Runner is Microsoft's offering that allows developers to execute unit tests written using MSTest - Microsoft's test framework. It can be used through the command-line interface (CLI) or seamlessly integrated into Visual Studio IDE for an efficient and effective test execution and debugging experience.

CLI Usage

Utilizing MSTest Runner via the command-line interface offers a slew of advantages, from quick test runs to facilitation of Continuous Integration and Deployment (CI/CD) pipelines. The straightforward commands make it accessible to automate and schedule test runs without the need for manual intervention, ensuring test coverage revision becomes second nature.

Consider running a suite of tests by simply providing the test's dll location as a parameter. The CLI offers options to filter tests by traits or categories, change the output path, and even define the test settings file, making it extremely customizable to fit your project's needs.


dotnet test ProjectName.dll --filter:Category=UnitTests


Integration with Visual Studio

For those who prefer the user-friendly environment of Visual Studio, integrating MSTest Runner is a breeze. Visual Studio’s Test Explorer becomes a powerful dashboard that orchestrates test discovery, execution, and live monitoring. Paired with the rich tools for debugging, profiling, and analyzing test performance, using MSTest Runner within Visual Studio elevates the testing experience to new heights.

The integration is as simple as clicking your way through the 'Test' tab and harnessing the test automation power at your fingertips. No CLI expertise required. It’s a seamless transition that allows developers to focus on refining their test cases and improving overall software quality.

Additional Features

MSTest Runner doesn't stop at offering the basics. It's a robust tool with a range of additional features. From parallel test execution to providing comprehensive test results, MSTest Runner ensures that the testing phase is as efficient and informative as possible.

Plugins and Extensions

The flexibility of MSTest Runner extends beyond its out-of-the-box functionalities. Developers can enhance and customize their test suites with a variety of plugins and extensions. Whether it's integrating with a specific reporting tool or a preference for a certain debugging tool, the extensibility of MSTest Runner allows it to adapt to your unique project requirements.

Debugging Made Easy

One of the most time-consuming aspects of test automation is debugging test failures. MSTest Runner simplifies this with advanced debugging options that let you pinpoint issues quickly. Integrate with the Visual Studio debugger, or utilize data collectors for detailed test failures. MSTest Runner ensures that the diagnosis phase is not a bottleneck in your development process.

Benefits of Using MSTest Runner

The benefits of incorporating MSTest Runner into your test automation arsenal are numerous and impactful. From the speed and efficiency of running tests using the CLI to the depth of debugging tools available within Visual Studio, this tool brings added value to your testing endeavors.

Improved Test Performance

MSTest Runner’s ability to execute tests in parallel drastically improves test performance, enabling quick feedback on the health of your codebase. This increased efficiency ultimately translates to faster builds and shorter feedback loops, essential in Agile and DevOps environments.

Enhanced Debugging Capabilities

When tests fail, time is of the essence. MSTest Runner provides a suite of debugging tools that help diagnose and rectify issues swiftly. From viewing test output to collecting diagnostic data, it equips you with what's necessary to address problems efficiently.

Integration with Other Testing Frameworks

For teams that work with multiple testing frameworks, MSTest Runner can serve as a unified test execution engine. Its ability to integrate with other popular testing tools and frameworks ensures a cohesive testing strategy, regardless of the testing paradigm in use.


As software development continues to lean heavily on test automation, choosing the right tools becomes a strategic decision. MSTest Runner’s suitability for both simple and complex testing scenarios, its seamless integration options, and the plethora of features make it a compelling choice.

For those ready to elevate their test automation game, the MSTest Runner has proven itself as a reliable ally. It’s a tool that can not only keep pace with the dynamics of modern software development but also contribute to the acceleration and precision that high-quality software demands. Whether you're building the next innovative app or debugging critical enterprise software, the MSTest Runner stands poised to become an integral part of your testing success story. Sometimes, the right tool can make all the difference.

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