Unit tests

Django comes with a test suite of its own, in the tests directory of the code base. It’s our policy to make sure all tests pass at all times.

We appreciate any and all contributions to the test suite!

The Django tests all use the testing infrastructure that ships with Django for testing applications. See Writing and running tests for an explanation of how to write new tests.

Running the unit tests


First, fork Django on GitHub.

Second, create and activate a virtual environment. If you’re not familiar with how to do that, read our contributing tutorial.

Next, clone your fork, install some requirements, and run the tests:

$ git clone https://github.com/YourGitHubName/django.git django-repo
$ cd django-repo/tests
$ python -m pip install -e ..
$ python -m pip install -r requirements/py3.txt
$ ./runtests.py
...\> git clone https://github.com/YourGitHubName/django.git django-repo
...\> cd django-repo\tests
...\> py -m pip install -e ..
...\> py -m pip install -r requirements\py3.txt
...\> runtests.py 

Installing the requirements will likely require some operating system packages that your computer doesn’t have installed. You can usually figure out which package to install by doing a web search for the last line or so of the error message. Try adding your operating system to the search query if needed.

If you have trouble installing the requirements, you can skip that step. See Running all the tests for details on installing the optional test dependencies. If you don’t have an optional dependency installed, the tests that require it will be skipped.

Running the tests requires a Django settings module that defines the databases to use. To help you get started, Django provides and uses a sample settings module that uses the SQLite database. See Using another settings module to learn how to use a different settings module to run the tests with a different database.

Having problems? See Troubleshooting for some common issues.

Running tests using tox

Tox is a tool for running tests in different virtual environments. Django includes a basic tox.ini that automates some checks that our build server performs on pull requests. To run the unit tests and other checks (such as import sorting, the documentation spelling checker, and code formatting), install and run the tox command from any place in the Django source tree:

$ python -m pip install tox
$ tox
...\> py -m pip install tox
...\> tox

By default, tox runs the test suite with the bundled test settings file for SQLite, black, flake8, isort, and the documentation spelling checker. In addition to the system dependencies noted elsewhere in this documentation, the command python3 must be on your path and linked to the appropriate version of Python. A list of default environments can be seen as follows:

$ tox -l
...\> tox -l

Testing other Python versions and database backends

In addition to the default environments, tox supports running unit tests for other versions of Python and other database backends. Since Django’s test suite doesn’t bundle a settings file for database backends other than SQLite, however, you must create and provide your own test settings. For example, to run the tests on Python 3.9 using PostgreSQL:

$ tox -e py39-postgres -- --settings=my_postgres_settings
...\> tox -e py39-postgres -- --settings=my_postgres_settings

This command sets up a Python 3.9 virtual environment, installs Django’s test suite dependencies (including those for PostgreSQL), and calls runtests.py with the supplied arguments (in this case, --settings=my_postgres_settings).

The remainder of this documentation shows commands for running tests without tox, however, any option passed to runtests.py can also be passed to tox by prefixing the argument list with --, as above.

Tox also respects the DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE environment variable, if set. For example, the following is equivalent to the command above:

$ DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE=my_postgres_settings tox -e py39-postgres

Windows users should use:

...\> set DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE=my_postgres_settings
...\> tox -e py39-postgres

Running the JavaScript tests

Django includes a set of JavaScript unit tests for functions in certain contrib apps. The JavaScript tests aren’t run by default using tox because they require Node.js to be installed and aren’t necessary for the majority of patches. To run the JavaScript tests using tox:

$ tox -e javascript
...\> tox -e javascript

This command runs npm install to ensure test requirements are up to date and then runs npm test.

Running tests using django-docker-box

django-docker-box allows you to run the Django’s test suite across all supported databases and python versions. See the django-docker-box project page for installation and usage instructions.

Using another settings module

The included settings module (tests/test_sqlite.py) allows you to run the test suite using SQLite. If you want to run the tests using a different database, you’ll need to define your own settings file. Some tests, such as those for contrib.postgres, are specific to a particular database backend and will be skipped if run with a different backend. Some tests are skipped or expected failures on a particular database backend (see DatabaseFeatures.django_test_skips and DatabaseFeatures.django_test_expected_failures on each backend).

To run the tests with different settings, ensure that the module is on your PYTHONPATH and pass the module with --settings.

The DATABASES setting in any test settings module needs to define two databases:

  • A default database. This database should use the backend that you want to use for primary testing.
  • A database with the alias other. The other database is used to test that queries can be directed to different databases. This database should use the same backend as the default, and it must have a different name.

If you’re using a backend that isn’t SQLite, you will need to provide other details for each database:

  • The USER option needs to specify an existing user account for the database. That user needs permission to execute CREATE DATABASE so that the test database can be created.
  • The PASSWORD option needs to provide the password for the USER that has been specified.

Test databases get their names by prepending test_ to the value of the NAME settings for the databases defined in DATABASES. These test databases are deleted when the tests are finished.

You will also need to ensure that your database uses UTF-8 as the default character set. If your database server doesn’t use UTF-8 as a default charset, you will need to include a value for CHARSET in the test settings dictionary for the applicable database.

Running only some of the tests

Django’s entire test suite takes a while to run, and running every single test could be redundant if, say, you just added a test to Django that you want to run quickly without running everything else. You can run a subset of the unit tests by appending the names of the test modules to runtests.py on the command line.

For example, if you’d like to run tests only for generic relations and internationalization, type:

$ ./runtests.py --settings=path.to.settings generic_relations i18n
...\> runtests.py --settings=path.to.settings generic_relations i18n

How do you find out the names of individual tests? Look in tests/ — each directory name there is the name of a test.

If you want to run only a particular class of tests, you can specify a list of paths to individual test classes. For example, to run the TranslationTests of the i18n module, type:

$ ./runtests.py --settings=path.to.settings i18n.tests.TranslationTests
...\> runtests.py --settings=path.to.settings i18n.tests.TranslationTests

Going beyond that, you can specify an individual test method like this:

$ ./runtests.py --settings=path.to.settings i18n.tests.TranslationTests.test_lazy_objects
...\> runtests.py --settings=path.to.settings i18n.tests.TranslationTests.test_lazy_objects

You can run tests starting at a specified top-level module with --start-at option. For example:

$ ./runtests.py --start-at=wsgi
...\> runtests.py --start-at=wsgi

You can also run tests starting after a specified top-level module with --start-after option. For example:

$ ./runtests.py --start-after=wsgi
...\> runtests.py --start-after=wsgi

Note that the --reverse option doesn’t impact on --start-at or --start-after options. Moreover these options cannot be used with test labels.

Running the Selenium tests

Some tests require Selenium and a web browser. To run these tests, you must install the selenium package and run the tests with the --selenium=<BROWSERS> option. For example, if you have Firefox and Google Chrome installed:

$ ./runtests.py --selenium=firefox,chrome
...\> runtests.py --selenium=firefox,chrome

See the selenium.webdriver package for the list of available browsers.

Specifying --selenium automatically sets --tags=selenium to run only the tests that require selenium.

Some browsers (e.g. Chrome or Firefox) support headless testing, which can be faster and more stable. Add the --headless option to enable this mode.

Running all the tests

If you want to run the full suite of tests, you’ll need to install a number of dependencies:

You can find these dependencies in pip requirements files inside the tests/requirements directory of the Django source tree and install them like so:

$ python -m pip install -r tests/requirements/py3.txt
...\> py -m pip install -r tests\requirements\py3.txt

If you encounter an error during the installation, your system might be missing a dependency for one or more of the Python packages. Consult the failing package’s documentation or search the web with the error message that you encounter.

You can also install the database adapter(s) of your choice using oracle.txt, mysql.txt, or postgres.txt.

If you want to test the memcached or Redis cache backends, you’ll also need to define a CACHES setting that points at your memcached or Redis instance respectively.

To run the GeoDjango tests, you will need to set up a spatial database and install the Geospatial libraries.

Each of these dependencies is optional. If you’re missing any of them, the associated tests will be skipped.

To run some of the autoreload tests, you’ll need to install the Watchman service.

Code coverage

Contributors are encouraged to run coverage on the test suite to identify areas that need additional tests. The coverage tool installation and use is described in testing code coverage.

Coverage should be run in a single process to obtain accurate statistics. To run coverage on the Django test suite using the standard test settings:

$ coverage run ./runtests.py --settings=test_sqlite --parallel=1
...\> coverage run runtests.py --settings=test_sqlite --parallel=1

After running coverage, generate the html report by running:

$ coverage html
...\> coverage html

When running coverage for the Django tests, the included .coveragerc settings file defines coverage_html as the output directory for the report and also excludes several directories not relevant to the results (test code or external code included in Django).

Contrib apps

Tests for contrib apps can be found in the tests/ directory, typically under <app_name>_tests. For example, tests for contrib.auth are located in tests/auth_tests.


Test suite hangs or shows failures on main branch

Ensure you have the latest point release of a supported Python version, since there are often bugs in earlier versions that may cause the test suite to fail or hang.

On macOS (High Sierra and newer versions), you might see this message logged, after which the tests hang:

objc[42074]: +[__NSPlaceholderDate initialize] may have been in progress in
another thread when fork() was called.

To avoid this set a OBJC_DISABLE_INITIALIZE_FORK_SAFETY environment variable, for example:


Or add export OBJC_DISABLE_INITIALIZE_FORK_SAFETY=YES to your shell’s startup file (e.g. ~/.profile).

Many test failures with UnicodeEncodeError

If the locales package is not installed, some tests will fail with a UnicodeEncodeError.

You can resolve this on Debian-based systems, for example, by running:

$ apt-get install locales
$ dpkg-reconfigure locales

You can resolve this for macOS systems by configuring your shell’s locale:

$ export LANG="en_US.UTF-8"
$ export LC_ALL="en_US.UTF-8"

Run the locale command to confirm the change. Optionally, add those export commands to your shell’s startup file (e.g. ~/.bashrc for Bash) to avoid having to retype them.

Tests that only fail in combination

In case a test passes when run in isolation but fails within the whole suite, we have some tools to help analyze the problem.

The --bisect option of runtests.py will run the failing test while halving the test set it is run together with on each iteration, often making it possible to identify a small number of tests that may be related to the failure.

For example, suppose that the failing test that works on its own is ModelTest.test_eq, then using:

$ ./runtests.py --bisect basic.tests.ModelTest.test_eq
...\> runtests.py --bisect basic.tests.ModelTest.test_eq

will try to determine a test that interferes with the given one. First, the test is run with the first half of the test suite. If a failure occurs, the first half of the test suite is split in two groups and each group is then run with the specified test. If there is no failure with the first half of the test suite, the second half of the test suite is run with the specified test and split appropriately as described earlier. The process repeats until the set of failing tests is minimized.

The --pair option runs the given test alongside every other test from the suite, letting you check if another test has side-effects that cause the failure. So:

$ ./runtests.py --pair basic.tests.ModelTest.test_eq
...\> runtests.py --pair basic.tests.ModelTest.test_eq

will pair test_eq with every test label.

With both --bisect and --pair, if you already suspect which cases might be responsible for the failure, you may limit tests to be cross-analyzed by specifying further test labels after the first one:

$ ./runtests.py --pair basic.tests.ModelTest.test_eq queries transactions
...\> runtests.py --pair basic.tests.ModelTest.test_eq queries transactions

You can also try running any set of tests in a random or reverse order using the --shuffle and --reverse options. This can help verify that executing tests in a different order does not cause any trouble:

$ ./runtests.py basic --shuffle
$ ./runtests.py basic --reverse
...\> runtests.py basic --shuffle
...\> runtests.py basic --reverse

Seeing the SQL queries run during a test

If you wish to examine the SQL being run in failing tests, you can turn on SQL logging using the --debug-sql option. If you combine this with --verbosity=2, all SQL queries will be output:

$ ./runtests.py basic --debug-sql
...\> runtests.py basic --debug-sql

Seeing the full traceback of a test failure

By default tests are run in parallel with one process per core. When the tests are run in parallel, however, you’ll only see a truncated traceback for any test failures. You can adjust this behavior with the --parallel option:

$ ./runtests.py basic --parallel=1
...\> runtests.py basic --parallel=1

You can also use the DJANGO_TEST_PROCESSES environment variable for this purpose.

Tips for writing tests

Isolating model registration

To avoid polluting the global apps registry and prevent unnecessary table creation, models defined in a test method should be bound to a temporary Apps instance:

from django.apps.registry import Apps
from django.db import models
from django.test import SimpleTestCase

class TestModelDefinition(SimpleTestCase):
    def test_model_definition(self):
        test_apps = Apps(['app_label'])

        class TestModel(models.Model):
            class Meta:
                apps = test_apps
django.test.utils.isolate_apps(*app_labels, attr_name=None, kwarg_name=None)

Since this pattern involves a lot of boilerplate, Django provides the isolate_apps() decorator. It’s used like this:

from django.db import models
from django.test import SimpleTestCase
from django.test.utils import isolate_apps

class TestModelDefinition(SimpleTestCase):
    def test_model_definition(self):
        class TestModel(models.Model):

Setting app_label

Models defined in a test method with no explicit app_label are automatically assigned the label of the app in which their test class is located.

In order to make sure the models defined within the context of isolate_apps() instances are correctly installed, you should pass the set of targeted app_label as arguments:

from django.db import models
from django.test import SimpleTestCase
from django.test.utils import isolate_apps

class TestModelDefinition(SimpleTestCase):
    @isolate_apps('app_label', 'other_app_label')
    def test_model_definition(self):
        # This model automatically receives app_label='app_label'
        class TestModel(models.Model):

        class OtherAppModel(models.Model):
            class Meta:
                app_label = 'other_app_label'

The decorator can also be applied to classes:

from django.db import models
from django.test import SimpleTestCase
from django.test.utils import isolate_apps

class TestModelDefinition(SimpleTestCase):
    def test_model_definition(self):
        class TestModel(models.Model):

The temporary Apps instance used to isolate model registration can be retrieved as an attribute when used as a class decorator by using the attr_name parameter:

from django.db import models
from django.test import SimpleTestCase
from django.test.utils import isolate_apps

@isolate_apps('app_label', attr_name='apps')
class TestModelDefinition(SimpleTestCase):
    def test_model_definition(self):
        class TestModel(models.Model):
        self.assertIs(self.apps.get_model('app_label', 'TestModel'), TestModel)

Or as an argument on the test method when used as a method decorator by using the kwarg_name parameter:

from django.db import models
from django.test import SimpleTestCase
from django.test.utils import isolate_apps

class TestModelDefinition(SimpleTestCase):
    @isolate_apps('app_label', kwarg_name='apps')
    def test_model_definition(self, apps):
        class TestModel(models.Model):
        self.assertIs(apps.get_model('app_label', 'TestModel'), TestModel)
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