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A testrunner with a progress bar and smarter tracebacks

Project description

Give your tests a progress bar and smarter tracebacks in 3 lines:

pip install nose-progressive
cd your_project
nosetests --with-progressive

nose-progressive is a nose plugin which displays progress in a stationary bar, freeing the rest of the screen (as well as the scrollback buffer) for the compact display of test failures, which it formats beautifully and usefully. It displays failures and errors as soon as they occur and avoids scrolling them off the screen in favor of less useful output. It also offers a number of other human-centric features to speed the debugging process.

The governing philosophy of nose-progressive is to get useful information onto the screen as soon as possible and keep it there as long as possible while still indicating progress.


Progress Bar

nose-progressive indicates progress in a stationary progress bar at the bottom of the screen. It supports a wide variety of terminal types and reacts to terminal resizing with all the grace it can muster. And unlike with the standard dot-strewing testrunner, you can always see what test is running.

Tracebacks: Prompt, Pretty, and Practical

nose, like most testrunners, typically waits until the bitter end to show error and failure tracebacks, which wastes a lot of time in large tests suites that take many minutes to complete. We show tracebacks as soon as they occur so you can start chasing them immediately, and we format them much better:

  • Judicious use of color and other formatting makes the traceback easy to scan. It’s especially easy to slide down the list of function names to keep your place while debugging.

  • Omitting the Traceback (most recent call last) line and using relative paths (optional), along with many other tweaks, fits much more in limited screen space.

  • Identifying failed tests in a format that can be fed back to nose makes it easy to re-run them:


    To re-run the above, do this:

    nosetests --with-progressive
  • The frame of the test itself always comes first; we skip any setup frames from test harnesses and such. This keeps your concentration where it counts. Also, like unittest itself, we hide any frames that descend into trivial comparison helpers like assertEquals() or assertRaises().

    (We’re actually better at it than unittest. We don’t just start hiding frames at the first unittest one after the test; we snip off only the last contiguous run of unittest frames. This lets you wrap your tests in the decorators from the mock library, which masquerades as unittest, and still see your tracebacks.)

  • Editor shortcuts (see below) let you jump right to any problem line in your editor.

Editor Shortcuts

For each frame of a traceback, nose-progressive provides an editor shortcut. This is a combination of a filesystem path and line number in a format understood by vi, emacs, the BBEdit command-line tool, and a number of other editors:

vi +361 apps/notifications/  # test_notification_completeness

Just triple-click (or what have you) to select the line, and copy and paste it onto the command line. You’ll land right at the offending line in your editor of choice. As a bonus, the editor shortcut is more compact than the stock traceback formatting.

You can set which editor to use by setting any of these, which nose-progressive checks in order:

  • The --progressive-editor commandline option

  • The NOSE_PROGRESSIVE_EDITOR environment variable

  • The $EDITOR environment variable

Custom Error Classes

nose-progressive fully supports custom error classes like Skip and Deprecated. We note the tests that raise them in realtime, just like normal errors and failures:

TODO: kitsune.apps.sumo.tests.test_readonly:ReadOnlyModeTest.test_login_error

However, when an error class is not considered a failure, we don’t show it unless the --progressive-advisories option is used, and, even in that case, we don’t show a traceback (since usually the important bit of information is that the test was skipped, not the line it was skipped on). This stems from our philosophy of prioritizing useful information.

Custom error classes are summarized in the counts after the run, along with failures and errors:

4 tests, 1 failure, 1 error, 1 skip in 0.0s
         ^^^^^^ Bold ^^^^^^

The non-zero counts of error classes that represent failures are bold to draw the eye and to correspond with the bold details up in the scrollback. Just follow the bold, and you’ll find your bugs.

Django Support

nose-progressive can run your Django tests via django-nose. Just install django-nose, then run your tests like so:

./ test --with-progressive --logging-clear-handlers


pip install nose-progressive

Or, get the bleeding-edge, unreleased version:

pip install -e git://


To upgrade from an older version of nose-progressive, assuming you didn’t install it from git:

pip install --upgrade nose-progressive


The simple way:

nosetests --with-progressive

My favorite way, which suppresses any noisy log messages thrown by tests unless they fail:

nosetests --with-progressive --logging-clear-handlers

To use nose-progressive by default, add with-progressive=1 to .noserc.


General Options


The editor to use for the shortcuts in tracebacks. Defaults to the value of $EDITOR and then “vi”. Equivalent environment variable: NOSE_PROGRESSIVE_EDITOR.


Display paths in traceback as absolute, rather than relative to the current working directory. This lets you copy and paste it to a shell in a different cwd or to another program entirely. Equivalent environment variable: NOSE_PROGRESSIVE_ABSOLUTE_PATHS.


Show even non-failure custom errors, like Skip and Deprecated, during test runs. Equivalent environment variable: NOSE_PROGRESSIVE_ADVISORIES.


nose-progressive automatically omits bold and color formatting when its output is directed to a non- terminal. Specifying --progressive-with-styling forces such styling to be output regardless. Equivalent environment variable: NOSE_PROGRESSIVE_WITH_STYLING.


nose-progressive automatically omits the progress bar when its output is directed to a non-terminal. Specifying --progressive-with-bar forces the bar to be output regardless. This option implies --progressive-with-styling. Equivalent environment variable: NOSE_PROGRESSIVE_WITH_BAR.

Color Options

Each of these takes an ANSI color expressed as a number from 0 to 15.


Color of function names in tracebacks. Equivalent environment variable: NOSE_PROGRESSIVE_FUNCTION_COLOR.


Color of de-emphasized text (like editor shortcuts) in tracebacks. Equivalent environment variable: NOSE_PROGRESSIVE_DIM_COLOR.


Color of the progress bar’s filled portion. Equivalent environment variable: NOSE_PROGRESSIVE_BAR_FILLED_COLOR.


Color of the progress bar’s empty portion. Equivalent environment variable: NOSE_PROGRESSIVE_BAR_EMPTY_COLOR.

Advanced Formatting

If you can’t get what you want with the above options—for example, if your editor needs a different line number syntax—you can replace the entire template that controls the editor shortcut lines of the traceback. You can even rig clickable URLs in most terminals that take you straight to the right line in your editor, without even the bother of copy and paste.


<template> is a format string as accepted by str.format(). Equivalent environment variable: NOSE_PROGRESSIVE_EDITOR_SHORTCUT_TEMPLATE.

The default template is…

'  {dim_format}{editor} +{line_number:<{line_number_max_width}} {path}{normal}{function_format}{hash_if_function}{function}{normal}'

Here are the available keys:


A terminal formatting sequence for de-emphasized text. Affected by --progressive-dim-color.


Your editor, set through --progressive-editor and $EDITOR


The name of the function referenced by this stack frame


A terminal formatting sequence for the function name. Affected by --progressive-function-color.


' # ' if this frame has a function with a name; empty otherwise. Useful for commenting out the function name at the end of a line.


The line number of the instruction this stack frame references


The maximum width, in characters, of the line numbers in the traceback currently being formatted. Useful for aligning columns.


A terminal escape sequence that turns off all special formatting. A shortcut for term.normal.


The path to the file this stack frame references. Affected by --progressive-abs.


A blessings Terminal object, through which you can access any terminal capability, even compound ones such as term.bold_blue_on_bright_red. This is your escape hatch to wild and crazy things beyond mere colors.

Caveats and Known Bugs

  • Makes a cosmetic mess when used with ipdb. Consider pdbpp instead.

  • Some logging handlers will smear bits of the progress bar upward if they don’t print complete lines. I hope to fix this with some monkeypatching, but in the meantime, passing --logging-clear-handlers works around this.

Having trouble? Pop over to the issue tracker.


Thanks to Kumar McMillan for his nose-nicedots plugin, which provided inspiration and starting points for the path formatting. Thanks to my teammates for writing so many tests that this became necessary. Thanks to Jeff Balogh for django-nose, without which I would have had little motivation to write this.


Erik Rose, while waiting for tests to complete ;-)

Version History

  • Handle KeyboardInterrupt more gracefully. (Alexander Artemenko)

  • Look up exception messages more compatibly with Python 3.4. (Paul Weaver)

  • Gracefully handle proxied SyntaxErrors when using the logcapture plugin. (Lucas Taylor)

  • Add LICENSE to (Sanny Kumar)

  • Avoid a TypeError when running nose-progressive from within invoke, which obscures the terminal size.

  • Fix a Unicode error when running inside Fedora’s mock tool.

  • Add the --progressive-editor-shortcut-template option, letting you completely customize the editor shortcuts. Now we support any text editor that has a go-to-line option, no matter how it’s spelled.

  • Drop support for Python 2.5. We needed modern string formatting.

  • Add first-class support for Python 3.2.3 and higher. It turned out my tox config was just wrong.

  • Tolerate Nones in traceback components: file names and code extracts particularly. (Kyle Gibson)

  • Fix bar not showing up in Python 3.

  • Add honest-to-goodness, tox-tested support for Python 3.3. 3.2 may come later. 3.1 and earlier won’t, because its stdlib hadn’t got its curses act together yet.

  • Clear the TestLoader’s path cache (new in nose 1.3.0) after counting the tests. This solves the problem of finding 0 tests to run under nose 1.3.0.

  • Make progress bar tests less brittle so they don’t falsely fail on OS X 10.8 or other platforms where the terminfo isn’t exactly what I wrote the test under.

  • Fix the “AttributeError: ‘dict’ object has no attribute ‘raw_input’” error that sometimes occurred at pdb breakpoints. Thanks to David Baumgold for finding the cause!

  • Make the final “OK!” green and bold. This helps me pick it out faster.

  • Warn when using --with-id and --verbosity=2 or higher. (Jason Ward)

  • Add experimental Python 3 support. Functionality might work, but tests need to be ported to pass.

  • Allow other nose plugins to process the test loader. (Ratnadeep Debnath)

  • Show parameter values in the names of generated tests. (Bruno Binet)

  • Tolerate a corner case in skipped tests without crashing. (Will Kahn-Greene)

  • Swallow chars that don’t decode with UTF-8 when printing tracebacks: both in filenames and source code. (Thanks to Bruno Binet for some patches inspiring a rethink here.)

  • Redo progress bar. Now it is made of beautiful terminal magic instead of equal signs. It looks best when your terminal supports at least 16 colors, but there’s a monochrome fallback for fewer. Or, you can customize the colors using several new command-line options.

  • Fix a Unicode encoding error that happened when non-ASCII chars appeared in traceback text. (Naoya INADA)

  • Tolerate empty tracebacks in the formatter. This avoids exacerbating crashes that occur before any test frames.

  • Fix Python 2.5 support. (David Warde-Farley)

  • Fix display of skipped tests in Python 2.7.

  • Require nose 0.11.0 or greater. Before that, test counting didn’t work sometimes when test generators were involved. (David Warde-Farley)

  • Hide the progress bar by default when not outputting to a terminal. This lets you redirect nose-progressive’s output to a file or another process and get a nice list of tracebacks.

  • Add an option for forcing the display of terminal formatting, even when redirecting the output to a non-terminal.

  • Factor out the terminal formatting library into its own package.

  • Start using tox for testing under multiple versions of Python.

  • Fix a bug that would cause the formatter to crash on many SyntaxErrors. This also improves the heuristics for identifying the test frame when there’s a SyntaxError: we can now find it as long as the error happens at a frame below that of the test.

  • You can now set the editor nose-progressive uses separately from the $EDITOR shell variable.

  • Every stack frame is now an editor shortcut. Not only does this make it easier to navigate, but it’s shorter in both height and width.

  • Reformat tracebacks for great justice. Subtle coloring guides the eye down the list of function names.

  • Hide unittest-internal and other pre-test stack frames when printing tracebacks. Fewer frames = less noise onscreen = less thinking = win!

  • Add an option to use absolute paths in tracebacks.

  • Pick the correct stack frame for editor shortcuts to syntax errors. Had to handle syntax errors specially, since they don’t make it into the traceback proper.

  • Show the actual value of the $EDITOR env var rather than just “$EDITOR”. I’m hoping it makes it a little more obvious what to do with it, plus it gives a working default if $EDITOR is not set. Plus plus it doesn’t explode if you have flags in your $EDITOR, e.g. bbedit -w.

  • Fix a crash triggered by a test having no defined module. –failed should always work now.

  • Major refactoring. nose-progressive now has its own testrunner and test result class. This makes it fully compatible with the capture plugin and other plugins that make output.

  • Fully support custom error classes, like Skips and Deprecations. They are printed during the test run, bolded if they represent failure, and summarized in the counts after the run.

  • Tests which write directly to stderr or stdout no longer smear the progress bar.

  • Add $EDITOR to editor shortcut: no more typing!

  • Work with tests that don’t have an address() method.

  • Work with tests that return a null filename from test_address().

  • Don’t pave over pdb prompts (anymore?).

  • Don’t obscure the traceback when the @with_setup decorator on a test generator fails.

  • Fix a crash on error when file of a stack frame or function of a test are None.

  • Guess the frame of the test, and spit that out as the editor shortcut. No more pointers to eq_()!

  • More reliably determine the editor shortcut pathname, e.g. when running tests from an egg distribution directory.

  • Embolden bits of the summary that indicate errors or failures.

  • Add time elapsed to the final summary.

  • Print “OK!” if no tests went ill. I seem to need this explicit affirmation in order to avoid thinking after a test run.

  • In the test failure output, switch the order of the line number and file name. This makes it work with the BBEdit command-line tool in addition to emacs and vi.

  • Cowboy attempt to fix a crasher on error by changing the entry_point to nose.plugin.0.10

  • Progress bar now works with plain old nosetests, not just django-nose. Sorry about that!

  • Stop printing the test name twice in the progress bar.

  • Add basic terminal resizing (SIGWINCH) support. Expanding is great, but contracting is still a little ugly. Suggestions welcome.

  • Real progress bar!

  • Don’t crash at the end when --no-skips is passed.

  • Print the exception, not just the traceback. That’s kind of important. :-)

  • Don’t crash when a requested test doesn’t exist.

  • More documentation tweaks. Package long_description now contains README.

  • Add instructions for installing without git.

  • Change package name in readme to the hypenated one. No behavior changes.

  • Initial release

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