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A Django test runner based on unittest2's test discovery.

Project description

An alternative Django TEST_RUNNER which uses the unittest2 test discovery from a base path specified in the settings, or any other module or package specified to the test management command – including app tests.

If you just run ./ test, it’ll discover and run all tests underneath the current working directory. E.g. if you run ./ test, it’ll run the tests in that module (you can also pass multiple modules). If you give it a single dotted path to a package (like a Django app) like ./ test myapp and that package does not itself directly contain any tests, it’ll do test discovery in all submodules of that package.


Django’s own test discovery is very much tied to the directory structure of Django apps, partly due to historic reasons (the unittest library didn’t have its own discovery for a long time) and prevents Django app authors from being good Python citizens. django-discover-runner uses the official test discovery feature of the new unittest2 library which is included in Django.

By default there is no way to put project specific tests in a separate folder outside the Python package of the Django project, which is a great way to organize your code, separating the tests and non-test code. django-discover-runner helps you clean up your project tests.

There is also no way to specify fully dotted import paths to test modules, functions, class or methods to the test management command but only Django’s odd standard <appname>.<TestClassName>. django-discover-runner allows you to specify any type of label to Django’s test management command.

By default Django’s test runner will execute the tests of Django’s own contrib apps, which doesn’t make sense if you just want to run your own app’s or project’s tests. django-discover-runner fixes this by allowing you to specify which tests to run and organize your test code outside the reach of the Django test runner.

More reasons can be found in Carl Meyer’s excellent talk about Testing and Django (slides).


Install it with your favorite installer, e.g.:

pip install -U django-discover-runner

django-discover-runner requires at least Django 1.4 and also works on 1.5.x. Starting in Django 1.6 the discover runner is a built-in.


  • TEST_RUNNER (required) needs to point to the DiscoverRunner class to enable it:

    TEST_RUNNER = 'discover_runner.DiscoverRunner'
  • Add 'discover_runner' to your INSTALLED_APPS setting to enable the ability to override the discovery settings below when using the test management command.

  • TEST_DISCOVER_TOP_LEVEL (optional) should be the directory containing your top-level package(s); in other words, the directory that should be on sys.path for your code to import. This is for example the directory containing in the new Django 1.4 project layout. The management command option is called --top-level.

  • TEST_DISCOVER_PATTERN (optional) is the pattern to use when discovering tests and defaults to the unittest2 standard test*.py. The management command option is called --pattern.


Django app

To test a reusable Django app it’s recommended to add a file to your app package to easily run the app tests with the test management command. Simply set the TEST_RUNNER setting to 'discover_runner.DiscoverRunner', configure the other settings necessary to run your tests and call the test management command with the name of the app package, e.g.: test --settings=myapp.test_settings myapp

Django project

If you want to test a project and want to store the project’s tests outside the project main package (recommended), you can simply follow the app instructions above, applying it to the “project” package, but set a few additional settings to tell the test runner to find the tests:

from os import path
TEST_DISCOVER_TOP_LEVEL = path.dirname(path.dirname(__file__))

This would find all the tests within a top-level “tests” package. Running the tests is as easy as calling: test --settings=mysite.test_settings tests

Alternatively you can specify the --top-level-directory management command option.

Multiple Django versions

In case you want to test your app on older Django versions as well as Django >= 1.6 you can simply conditionally configure the test runner in your test settings, e.g.:

import django

if django.VERSION[:2] < (1, 6):
  TEST_RUNNER = 'discover_runner.DiscoverRunner'


1.0 06/15/2013

  • GOOD NEWS! This runner was added to Django 1.6 as the new default! This version backports that runner for Django 1.4.x and 1.5.x.

  • Removed TEST_DISCOVER_ROOT setting in favor of unittest2’s own way to figure out the root.

  • Dropped support for Django 1.3.x.

0.4 04/12/2013

  • Added ability to override the discover settings with a custom test management command.

0.3 01/28/2013

  • Fixed to work on Python 3. This should make this app compatible to Python 3.

0.2.2 09/04/2012

  • Stopped setting the top level variable in the case of using a module path as the test label as it made the wrong assumption that the parent directory is the top level.

0.2.1 08/20/2012

  • Fixed a rather esoteric bug with testing test case class methods that was caused by a wrong import and the way Django wraps itself around the unittest2 module (if availale) or unittest on Python >= 2.7.

0.2 05/26/2012

  • Added ability to use an optionally installed unittest2 library for Django projects using Django < 1.3 (which added unittest2 to the django.utils.unittest package).

0.1.1 05/23/2012

  • Fixed a bug that prevented the project based feature to work correctly.

0.1 05/20/2012

  • Initial release with support for Django >= 1.3.


This test runner is a humble rip-off of Carl Meyer’s DiscoveryRunner which he published as a gist a while ago. All praise should be directed at him. Thanks, Carl!

This was also very much related to ticket #17365 which eventually led to the replacement of the default test runner in Django. Thanks again, Carl!

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