Title: Additional Flag For Unit-Test Module: There Can Be Only One (Error)
Type: enhancement Stage:
Components: Library (Lib) Versions: Python 2.5
Status: closed Resolution: rejected
Dependencies: Superseder:
Assigned To: purcell Nosy List: amaury.forgeotdarc, bcwhite, purcell
Priority: normal Keywords:

Created on 2008-03-05 16:24 by bcwhite, last changed 2008-03-08 15:21 by bcwhite. This issue is now closed.

File name Uploaded Description Edit bcwhite, 2008-03-05 16:24 diff -u
Messages (7)
msg63285 - (view) Author: Brian White (bcwhite) Date: 2008-03-05 16:24
The attached diff adds a "-o" ("--one") option to the "unittest" module
that causes the run to abort on the first error encountered.  I name my
tests so that the lowest-level tests get run first so stopping at the
first error tends to prevent a lot of dependent errors and speed
debugging.  During development, I typically run the tests I'm writing
with "-ov".  During a full test run, I omit both those flags.
msg63313 - (view) Author: Steve Purcell (purcell) Date: 2008-03-06 08:27
Hi Brian; 

The module is intended for test suites where the unit tests are written 
to be independent of each other, which is the "standard" way to do 
things.  Note, for instance, that there is no convenient support for 
changing the order in which tests run.

When tests are written like that, you can interrupt a bulk test run at 
any point, and you can run a single test to reproduce and then debug a 

Given your test suite, I can see how this '--one' option is helpful to 
you, but I don't believe it should be made standard.  (I've never seen 
it in any XP-inspired test framework or related IDE UI.)  However, you 
can easily write a custom TestRunner that provides this "fast abort" 
behaviour that you want, and then hook it into unittest as follows:


(BTW, regarding the implementation, it's not ideal to pass the 'onlyOne' 
parameter down and through to the run() method; much better would be to 
initialise a TestResult subclass with the 'onlyOne' option, so that it 
could then abort when 'addError' or 'addFailure' is called.  You can use 
that trick in any custom test runner you might write.)

Best wishes,

msg63321 - (view) Author: Amaury Forgeot d'Arc (amaury.forgeotdarc) * (Python committer) Date: 2008-03-06 14:02
Actually, py.test and nose both have the -x option for this purpose.
I use it very often during development, mostly during a refactoring
phase: failures are easy to correct, and I don't want to wait for the
complete suite to complete and display tons of tracebacks.

Even while developing on core python, this option would have helped me a
couple of times. Please, reopen this item!
msg63322 - (view) Author: Steve Purcell (purcell) Date: 2008-03-06 14:15
I guess I don't completely agree with the rationale, because I've never 
wanted this feature; when running tests en-masse after refactoring, I 
want an overview of what was broken.  If the codebase is in good shape, 
the test failures will be few and close together, and then I can usually 
re-run one of the individual test cases to debug the error.

However, this isn't a big issue for me, and if someone's willing to 
prepare a new patch with the different implementation I described 
previously, I'm happy to re-open this ticket and sign off on it.  I'd 
suggest using the same argument names as nose and py.test in this case.
msg63333 - (view) Author: Brian White (bcwhite) Date: 2008-03-06 19:59
Having tests run independently of each other is not the same as having
tests be completely independent.  I'd argue that the latter is
impossible.  You're never going to test the entire system in a single
test case and thus the tests work together (i.e. not independently) to
test everything.

If one function under test calls another function that is also tested,
then it makes sense to test the lower-level function first and display
any problems as it will be easier/faster to find the root of the trouble
than when the error causes unexpected results in the higher-level function.

To make things easier, I simply name my tests such that lower-level
functions are tested first.  Each individual tests still runs
independently, of course.

The point of the "--one" option is just to have it stop when the first
test fails, allowing me to fix the lowest level error.  If that same
error causes a dozen other tests to also fail and I just pick one
failure randomly to start debugging, it's going to take me longer,
perhaps a lot longer, to track down the problem.

As for the method of implementation, I'm sure there are better ways to
do it.  Though I can write fully functional programs in Python, I by no
means consider myself an expert in the language.  I did it this way
because the only other solution I saw was a global variable and figured
that would be a poor way to do it.  As such, I'd appreciate help on
exactly how it should "properly" be done.  :-)

I'll let somebody else actually re-open this issue if it's a desired
item since I'm not knowledgeable enough to see the solution you propose.

msg63334 - (view) Author: Steve Purcell (purcell) Date: 2008-03-06 20:32
Hi Brian - thanks for going into some details of your rationale!

You might be surprised to hear that it's indeed possible to make all of 
your unit tests mutually independent; check out the area of 'mock 
objects'.  It turns out to be possible, and indeed desirable once the 
"zen" of the technique clicks, to test every class in isolation without 
referring to other neighbouring classes.  I was surprised by the 
enormous effectiveness of this somewhat hardcore technique when I was 
forced into it by working with one of the original Mock Object paper 
authors.  Having already spent years coaching developers in XP 
techniques, I thought I was already a testing whiz.

In most real-world cases, though, a class under test will be tested 
using its interaction with other separately-tested classes in the 
system, and the associated unit tests therefore bear some relation to 
one another.  It's usually not helpful to divide those classes into 
layers that can be tested in order from the lowest layer to the highest, 
because classes tend to form clumps rather than layers.  When a big 
suite of tests is run, failures therefore form clumps too, and often the 
underlying programming error is easier to see by looking at the clump 
rather than just the first failure.  I think this explains why most 
people get by without an option like '-o'.

Of course, it often makes sense to have separate test suites for 
different areas of the system under test so that they can be run in 
isolation.  Rather than relying on test naming, you might consider 
explicitly building TestSuites that run your test cases in the desired 

As for preparing an updated patch, I'll get to it if I get a few 

All the best from this Brit in Germany.
msg63403 - (view) Author: Brian White (bcwhite) Date: 2008-03-08 15:21
I am somewhat new to mock objects.  I'm coding up my first one now (in
D) to simulate a "stream" for other objects I want to write.

Even within a single module, I typically have many tests for the methods
within that module.  And since a module's methods make use of each
other, there is again a case for the tests of the lower-level functions
to be executed first.

Anyway, this is something that works for me, but I understand that not
everybody operates this way.

All the best from this Canadian in Switzerland.  :-)
Date User Action Args
2008-03-08 15:21:53bcwhitesetmessages: + msg63403
2008-03-06 20:32:10purcellsetmessages: + msg63334
2008-03-06 19:59:04bcwhitesetmessages: + msg63333
2008-03-06 14:15:28purcellsetmessages: + msg63322
2008-03-06 14:03:00amaury.forgeotdarcsetnosy: + amaury.forgeotdarc
messages: + msg63321
2008-03-06 08:27:27purcellsetstatus: open -> closed
assignee: purcell
resolution: rejected
messages: + msg63313
2008-03-05 21:37:36benjamin.petersonsetnosy: + purcell
2008-03-05 16:24:30bcwhitecreate