Testing infrastructure

Tests are run with nose. Unlike many projects that use nose, tests cannot normally be invoked with the nosetests command because it does not perform necessary Django setup. Instead, tests are invoked using the standard Django convention: ./manage.py test.

Nose plugins

Nose plugins are used for various purposes, some of which are optional and can be enabled with command line parameters or environment variables. Others are required by the test environment and are always enabled. Custom plugins are registered with django-nose via the NOSE_PLUGINS setting in testsettings.

One very important always-enabled plugin applies patches before tests are run. The patches remain in effect for the duration of the test run unless utilities are provided to temporarily disable them. For example, sync_users_to_es is a decorator/context manager that enables syncing of users to ElasticSearch when a user is saved. Since this syncing involves custom test setup not done by most tests it is disabled by default, but it can be temporarily enabled using sync_users_to_es in tests that need it.

Testing best practices

Test set up

Doing a lot of work in the setUp call of a test class means that it will be run on every test. This quickly adds a lot of run time to the tests. Some things that can be easily moved to setUpClass are domain creation, user creation, or any other static models needed for the test.

Sometimes classes share the same base class and inherit the setUpClass function. Below is an example:

# BAD EXAMPLE

class MyBaseTestClass(TestCase):

    @classmethod
    def setUpClass(cls):
        ...


class MyTestClass(MyBaseTestClass):

    def test1(self):
        ...

class MyTestClassTwo(MyBaseTestClass):

    def test2(self):
        ...

In the above example the setUpClass is run twice, once for MyTestClass and once for MyTestClassTwo. If setUpClass has expensive operations, then it’s best for all the tests to be combined under one test class.

# GOOD EXAMPLE

class MyBigTestClass(TestCase):

    @classmethod
    def setUpClass(cls):
        ...

    def test1(self):
        ...

    def test2(self):
        ...

However this can lead to giant Test classes. If you find that all the tests in a package or module are sharing the same set up, you can write a setup method for the entire package or module. More information on that can be found here.

Test tear down

It is important to ensure that all objects you have created in the test database are deleted when the test class finishes running. This often happens in the tearDown method or the tearDownClass method. However, unneccessary cleanup “just to be safe” can add a large amount of time onto your tests.

Using SimpleTestCase

The SimpleTestCase runs tests without a database. Many times this can be achieved through the use of the mock library. A good rule of thumb is to have 80% of your tests be unit tests that utilize SimpleTestCase, and then 20% of your tests be integration tests that utilize the database and TestCase.

CommCareHQ also has some custom in mocking tools.

  • Fake Couch - Fake implementation of CouchDBKit api for testing purposes.

  • ESQueryFake - For faking ES queries.

Squashing Migrations

There is overhead to running many migrations at once. Django allows you to squash migrations which will help speed up the migrations when running tests.