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22 Apr
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A Comprehensive Look at 14 Popular Terraform Testing Tools

Improve your workflow with these Terraform Testing tools. From unit tests to integration tests, this guide covers everything you need to know.

Jack Dwyer

Platform Engineering + DevOps

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What Is Terraform Testing and Its Importance

illustration of coding screen - Terraform Testing Tools

What Is Terraform? Terraform is an infrastructure as code (IaC) solution that allows DevOps teams to deploy on-premise or cloud infrastructure components through code. With Terraform, we can use a unified, domain-specific language called HashiCorp Language (HCL) to streamline the authoring of templates across various cloud providers. This unification across different cloud providers, such as AWS, Azure, and GCP, significantly reduces the complexity of managing infrastructure across multiple platforms.

Software Development and IaC Testing: A Match Made in Heaven

Just as testing code is a fundamental aspect of software development, testing an IaC solution like Terraform is crucial. IaC testing can help mitigate issues and validate the effectiveness of configurations. While integrating IaC testing into the DevOps process poses challenges such as determining what to test, what to omit, and which mechanisms are most effective, it is essential for optimizing infrastructure deployments.

Testing Terraform: A Multifaceted Approach

To test Terraform templates, we can leverage Terraform's built-in commands like Terraform validate or Terraform plan, which allows us to write unit, integration, compliance, or end-to-end tests. We can opt for a more developer-oriented approach by testing with the Cloud Development Kit for Terraform (CDKTF). 

By defining clear goals for validation, such as verifying template syntax, ensuring successful template deployment, or conducting more advanced security-focused testing, DevOps teams can determine the appropriate testing approach for their specific needs.

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Exploring Different Strategies for Terraform Testing

exploring strategies for Terraform Testing Tools
  • Drift Testing
  • Unit Testing
  • Linting
  • Integration Testing
  • Compliance Testing
  • End-to-End Testing

Drift Testing

This testing strategy is vital for ensuring that your current infrastructure is validated using the Terraform state file, which stores the end state of your deployment. If all deployments in your target environment are not triggered from Terraform, there might be a discrepancy between the actual resources and what is recorded in the Terraform state file

When deploying a resource already managed by Terraform, the Terraform plan command can detect any discrepancies between the state file and the actual environment. For entirely new resources, tools like driftctl and CloudQuery are helpful in identifying all resources not under Terraform control.

Unit Testing

Unit testing involves running a specific and basic test, usually against an individual object. Terraform's built-in command, Terraform validate, can be used to verify the correctness of the template syntax. 

To simulate an actual deployment and detect any changes, the Terraform plan command can be utilized. This might include creating, modifying, or deleting resources. The Terraform apply command is used to run the actual deployment, but it's crucial to watch for any dependencies in your environment.


Linters help analyze code for bugs, errors, and suspicious code blocks. For Terraform configurations, tools like tflint can be used to detect syntax issues, security problems, or hard-coded strings in the code. Linting can range from simple unit tests to complex testing scenarios depending on the use case.

Integration Testing

This type of testing validates multiple modules with extensive dependencies, ensuring that all modules work together successfully. By combining two separate Terraform templates, like creating a VPC and deploying virtual machines, integration testing can identify issues that unit testing might overlook.

Compliance Testing

Compliance testing ensures that Terraform templates align with corporate compliance regulations, regional standards, naming conventions, infrastructure requirements, and security protocols. Integrating compliance testing into the DevOps process helps identify failures before deployments, ensuring successful deployments.

End-to-End Testing

This advanced testing method combines all other testing strategies to test all templates, deploy all modules, and validate successes or failures. While ideal, end-to-end testing can be time-consuming due to the longer duration of tests compared to unit testing.

Zeet Terraform and Helm Product Overview

A Comprehensive Look at 14 Popular Terraform Testing Tools

best and popular Terraform Testing Tools

1. Zeet

Zeet's CI/CD deployment platform for Kubernetes and Terraform is designed to streamline infrastructure workflows, ensuring seamless and reliable cloud deployments.

2. Terratest

Terratest is an open-source testing framework for testing Terraform code, Docker, and Packer. It enables automated testing of infrastructure code in a sandbox environment to validate that it meets requirements, functions as expected, and is reliable. Tests are written in Go, and it provides a rich set of testing functions that allow the user to automate the entire testing process, including provisioning resources, running tests, and cleaning up resources.

3. Kitchen-Terraform

Kitchen-Terraform is an open-source tool that provides a framework for writing automated tests for Terraform code. It uses a combination of Ruby, Terraform, and Test Kitchen to spin up infrastructure in a sandbox environment, run tests, and destroy the infrastructure once testing is complete.

4. Terraform fmt

Terraform fmt is a built-in command that formats the code correctly, ensuring that it adheres to the standard formatting conventions.

5. Terraform validate

Terraform validate is a built-in command that verifies the syntax of the configuration file, ensuring that it is syntactically correct and free of errors.

6. TFLint

TFLint is a linting tool that verifies the contents of the configuration as well as the syntax and structure, checking for account limits and validating resource types.

7. Checkov

Checkov is a static code analysis tool that checks for security vulnerabilities in Terraform code, ensuring that it adheres to security best practices.

8. Serverspec

Serverspec is a tool for testing infrastructure configuration, including Terraform code. It uses RSpec syntax to define tests and is particularly useful for unit testing. Serverspec is a popular choice for testing Terraform code.

9. Goss

Goss is a tool for testing infrastructure configuration, including Terraform code. It uses simple YAML files to define tests and is easy to use. Goss is particularly useful for high-level, easy tests.

10. Awspec

awspec is a tool for testing AWS infrastructure configurations, including Terraform code. It uses RSpec syntax to define tests and is particularly useful for testing AWS-specific resources.

11. Testinfra

Testinfra is a tool for testing infrastructure configuration, including Terraform code. It uses Python syntax to define tests and is particularly useful for testing infrastructure configuration on various platforms.

12. Pulumi

Pulumi is a tool for deploying infrastructure as code, including Terraform code. It also includes testing features, such as unit testing and integration testing. Pulumi is particularly useful for testing infrastructure configurations written in various programming languages.

13. Terraform Compliance

Terraform Compliance is a lightweight, security, and compliance-focused test framework designed to enable negative testing capabilities for infrastructure-as-code (IaC) configurations, particularly those created using Terraform. This tool focuses on ensuring that the implemented code adheres to security standards and custom-defined behavior, following the principles of Behavior Driven Development (BDD).

14. Terrascan

This open-source tool performs static code analysis to identify security vulnerabilities and compliance violations in Terraform code.

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How to Integrate Terraform Testing Tools With CI/CD Pipelines

CI CD pipeline with Terraform Testing Tools

Choosing a CI/CD Pipeline Tool

Select a CI/CD pipeline tool that aligns with your infrastructure needs. Tools like AWS CodePipeline, Jenkins, CircleCI, or GitLab CI/CD are popular choices.

Creating a Pipeline

Develop a comprehensive pipeline with these key stages

Code checkout

Extract Terraform code from version control systems like GitHub, GitLab, or Bitbucket.


Utilize tools like tfsec, TFLint, and checkov to validate Terraform code adherence to best practices and compliance standards.


Run the Terraform plan command to create an execution plan illustrating the infrastructure changes post applying the Terraform configuration.


Execute the Terraform apply command to implement changes to the infrastructure


Execute the Terraform destroy command to eliminate the infrastructure generated during the application phase.

Configuring the Pipeline

Automate the pipeline to trigger whenever Terraform code modifications are detected in the VCS. Customize the pipeline for scheduled or on-demand runs.

Configuring the Testing Tools

Integrate testing tools such as Terratest or Kitchen-Terraform to perform integration tests that deploy infrastructure in a sandbox environment, conduct tests, and remove the infrastructure post-testing.

Configuring Notifications

Set up the pipeline to send notifications upon completion or failure using mediums like email, Slack, or other messaging platforms.

Monitoring the Pipeline

Monitor the pipeline to ensure seamless operation and expected application of infrastructure changes. Use dashboards, logs, and alerts to monitor the pipeline effectively.

What Are Some Best Practices for Using Terraform Testing Tools

person exploring best practices for Terraform Testing Tools

1. Syntax Validation

To begin any Terraform testing process, it is fundamental to ensure that your Terraform code is error-free. You can achieve this by utilizing tools like Terraform validate or employing linters. The syntax validation process guarantees that your Terraform code is syntactically precise before any tests or infrastructure deployment.

2. Unit Testing

In the realm of Terraform testing, unit tests are indispensable. These tests are designed to scrutinize individual Terraform modules or resources in isolation. The objective of writing unit tests is to assess the behavior of isolated resources or modules. By constructing focused unit tests, you can efficiently evaluate the functionality of specific elements within your Terraform code base.

3. Integration Testing

The next crucial stage in Terraform testing is integration testing. This form of testing concentrates on examining the interactions between multiple resources or modules. Tools such as Terratest can be leveraged for integration testing. Integration tests are pivotal as they validate the end-to-end behavior of your infrastructure code and ensure the accurate configuration of all dependencies.

4. Compliance Testing

Implementing tools like Checkov or Terragrunt can aid in conducting compliance testing. The purpose of compliance testing is to guarantee that your infrastructure code adheres to the best practices and compliance standards. This form of testing plays a vital role in mitigating security vulnerabilities, ensuring that your infrastructure aligns with organizational policies.

5. CI/CD Integration

By incorporating Terraform testing tools into CI/CD pipelines, you can ensure that all modifications undergo rigorous testing before deployment. This streamlined process plays a pivotal role in error prevention. It assures that your infrastructure remains secure and compliant throughout the deployment phase.

6. Code Coverage

Engaging tools such as Terratest in your testing process ensures comprehensive code coverage. Code coverage reports are instrumental in identifying areas of your code that lack sufficient testing coverage. Therefore, it ensures that every modification is thoroughly tested before being deployed to your infrastructure.

7. Environment Testing

It is imperative to test your infrastructure code across various environments, such as staging and production. By testing in different environments, you can ascertain that your Terraform code behaves consistently, regardless of the environment it is deployed in.

8. Test Data Management

To prevent interference with your actual infrastructure, employing test data management tools to generate fake data for your tests is highly recommended. This practice guarantees that your tests remain isolated from your production environment, ensuring the reliability of your testing process.

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With Zeet, teams can ensure reliable and efficient cloud infrastructure management. Contact Zeet to explore how your team can leverage their cloud, Kubernetes, and Terraform investments through our advanced CI/CD and deployment platform for enhanced performance and productivity.

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