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Fixtures, reusable state for writing clean tests and more.

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Copyright (c) 2010, Robert Collins <>

Licensed under either the Apache License, Version 2.0 or the BSD 3-clause license at the users choice. A copy of both licenses are available in the project source as Apache-2.0 and BSD. You may not use this file except in compliance with one of these two licences.

Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software distributed under these licenses is distributed on an “AS IS” BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied. See the license you chose for the specific language governing permissions and limitations under that license.

Fixtures defines a Python contract for reusable state / support logic, primarily for unit testing. Helper and adaption logic is included to make it easy to write your own fixtures using the fixtures contract. Glue code is provided that makes using fixtures that meet the Fixtures contract in unittest compatible test cases easy and straight forward.


  • Python 2.4+

For use in a unit test suite using the included glue, one of:

Writing your own glue code is easy, or you can simply use Fixtures directly without any support code.

To run the test suite for fixtures, testtools is needed.

Why Fixtures

Standard Python provides no obvious method for making and reusing state needed in a test case other than by adding a method on the test class. This scales poorly - complex helper functions propogating up a test class hierarchy is a regular pattern when this is done. Mocking while a great tool doesn’t itself prevent this (and helpers to mock complex things can accumulate in the same way if placed on the test class).

By defining a uniform contract where helpers have no dependency on the test class we permit all the regular code hygiene activities to take place without the distorting influence of being in a class hierarchy that is modelling an entirely different thing - which is what helpers on a TestCase suffer from.

About Fixtures

A Fixture represents some state. Each fixture has attributes on it that are specific to the fixture. For instance, a fixture representing a directory that can be used for temporary files might have a attribute ‘path’.

Creating Fixtures

Minimally, subclass Fixture, define setUp to initialize your state and schedule a cleanup for when cleanUp is called and you’re done:

>>> import unittest
>>> import fixtures
>>> class NoddyFixture(fixtures.Fixture):
...     def setUp(self):
...         super(NoddyFixture, self).setUp()
...         self.frobnozzle = 42
...         self.addCleanup(delattr, self, 'frobnozzle')

This will initialize frobnozzle when setUp is called, and when cleanUp is called get rid of the frobnozzle attribute.

There is a helper for adapting a function or function pair into Fixtures. it puts the result of the function in fn_result:

>>> import os.path
>>> import shutil
>>> import tempfile
>>> def setup_function():
...     return tempfile.mkdtemp()
>>> def teardown_function(fixture):
...     shutil.rmtree(fixture)
>>> fixture = fixtures.FunctionFixture(setup_function, teardown_function)
>>> fixture.setUp()
>>> print os.path.isdir(fixture.fn_result)
>>> fixture.cleanUp()

The Fixture API

The example above introduces some of the Fixture API. In order to be able to clean up after a fixture has been used, all fixtures define a cleanUp method which should be called when a fixture is finished with.

Because its nice to be able to build a particular set of related fixtures in advance of using them, fixtures also have define a setUp method which should be called before trying to use them.

One common desire with fixtures that are expensive to create is to reuse them in many test cases; to support this the base Fixture also defines a reset which calls self.cleanUp(); self.setUp(). Fixtures that can more efficiently make themselves reusable should override this method. This can then be used with multiple test state via things like testresources, setUpClass, or setUpModule.

When using a fixture with a test you can manually call the setUp and cleanUp methods. More convenient though is to use the included glue from fixtures.TestWithFixtures which provides a mixin defining useFixture (camel case because unittest is camel case throughout) method. It will call setUp on the fixture, call self.addCleanup(fixture) to schedule a cleanup, and return the fixture. This lets one write:

>>> import testtools
>>> import unittest

Note that we use testtools TestCase here as we need to guarantee a TestCase.addCleanup method.

>>> class NoddyTest(testtools.TestCase, fixtures.TestWithFixtures):
...     def test_example(self):
...         fixture = self.useFixture(NoddyFixture())
...         self.assertEqual(42, fixture.frobnozzle)
>>> result = unittest.TestResult()
>>> _ = NoddyTest('test_example').run(result)
>>> print result.wasSuccessful()

Fixtures implement the context protocol, so you can also use a fixture as a context manager:

>>> with fixtures.FunctionFixture(setup_function, teardown_function) as fixture:
...    print os.path.isdir(fixture.fn_result)

When multiple cleanups error, fixture.cleanUp() will raise a wrapper exception rather than choosing an arbitrary single exception to raise:

>>> import sys
>>> from fixtures.fixture import MultipleExceptions
>>> class BrokenFixture(fixtures.Fixture):
...     def setUp(self):
...         fixtures.Fixture.setUp(self)
...         self.addCleanup(lambda:1/0)
...         self.addCleanup(lambda:1/0)
>>> fixture = BrokenFixture()
>>> fixture.setUp()
>>> try:
...    fixture.cleanUp()
... except MultipleExceptions:
...    exc_info = sys.exc_info()
>>> print exc_info[1].args[0][0]
<type 'exceptions.ZeroDivisionError'>

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