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unittest API, part 4

·3 mins

As I said at the very beginning, unittest has an API with lots of interfaces. You can read about the interfaces for test frameworks in part 1, part 2 and part 3 of this series. This post is about the interface for test authors.

If the other posts are fresh in your mind, it’s important to remember that this post is focused on the standard implementation of TestCase. After all, it’s that implementation which creates the interface for test authors. There are other implementations (e.g. FunctionTestCase and DocTestCase) which provide completely different interfaces for test authors, and one could write one’s own implementation that provided something else entirely.

Subclassing TestCase

Almost all of the time that you want to write tests, you subclass unittest.TestCase. It’s not the only way to write unit tests with unittest, but it’s rather handy, particularly since the default test loader looks for subclasses of TestCase.

This is going to be much easier for all of us if I work from an example.

class SomeTests(TestCase):  def setUp(self):    print "setUp"  def tearDown(self):    print "tearDown"  def test_a(self):    print "a"  def test_b(self):    print "b"

The test loader will make something that looks like unittest.TestSuite([SomeTests("test_a"), SomeTests("test_b")]). That is, it constructs an instance of SomeTests for each method beginning with “test”.

The tests will only be run when is called. The tests do not get access to the result object, instead the run() method mediates between the tests and the result.

The default method will run setUp(), then the test method given in the constructor (e.g. test_a), then tearDown().

If setUp() raises any exception, tearDown() will not be run. The result object will have addError called on it with the test and the error.

If the test method raises an exception, one of two things can happen. If the exception is an instance of self.failureException, then result.addFailure(test, exc_info) is called, where test is the TestCase instance and exc_info is the sys.exc_info() tuple. Otherwise, result.addError(test, exc_info) is called. In either case, tearDown() is then run.

If tearDown() raises an exception, result.addError(test, exc_info) is called.

There are lots of built-in assertion methods on unittest.TestCase. These all raise self.failureException if their assertion fails. These are part of the interface for test authors, but they are already very well documented. Just note that if you write your own, remember to raise self.failureException, or better yet call, rather than raising AssertionError or something crazy like that.

That’s pretty much it.

Of course, you could write your own object that implemented ITest and ITestCase, and use your own test loader, and then you don’t have to care about anything in this post. But don’t do that. Better to subclass unittest.TestCase.

As always, feedback welcome.