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pytest support for airflow.

Project description

pytest-airflow is a plugin for pytest that allows tests to be run within an Airflow DAG.

pytest handles test discovery and function encapsulation, allowing test declaration to operate in the usual way with the use of parametrization, fixtures and marks. The generated test callables tests are eventually passed to PythonOperators that are run as separate Airflow tasks.


pytest-airflow can be installed with pip:

pip install pytest-airflow


pytest-airflow depends on Apache Airflow, which requires export SLUGIFY_USES_TEXT_UNIDECODE=yes to be specified before install. See the Airflow install instructions for background on this requirement.


When running pytest from the command line, the plugin will collect the tests and construct the DAG. It will output a DAG tree view in addition to the requested output.

$ pytest --airflow

When invoking pytest from python code, pytest.main() will return a reference to the DAG.

import pytest
dag, source, sink  = pytest.main(["--airflow", "--dag-id", "FOO"])

The plugin generates two tasks at the start and end of the workflow which represent the source and sink for the tests. The source task is responsible for branching and the sink task for reporting. The former and the later are called __pytest_source and __pytest_sink by default respectively. In case the user desire to change those defaults name it is possible to make use of the source and sink flags as below.

$ pytest --airflow --source branch --sink report

If the plugin is installed, pytest will automatically use it. Saving the script above in one’s DAG folder is enough to trigger the DAG. Note that pytest will be evaluated from the path where the Airflow scheduler is invoked.


The plugin creates a DAG of the form source -> tests -> sink, source marks tests that will be executed and skipped, tests executes the selected tests as separate tasks and sink reports test outcome.


Airflow requires that any DAG be completely defined before it is run. So by the nature of Airflow, we cannot use pytest to collect tests on the fly based on the results of source. Rather, pytest is used to generate the set of all possible desired tests before source is evaluated. The user can use all of the available flags to pytest (eg. -m, -k, paths) to narrow the set of initial desired tests down.

The plugin makes a source task called __pytest_source by default available. This task allows skipping unwanted tests for a particular DAG run using the following configuration keys:

  • marks: a list of marks, it filters tests in the same way as the -m flag operates when collecting tests with pytest.
  • keywords: a list of keywords, it filters tests in the same way as the -k flag operates when collecting tests with pytest.


The plugin defers test execution for the DAG run. That means when calling pytest, the tests will be collected and the associated callables will be generated and passed to the PythonOperator. If the DAG is compiled without any errors, pytest will return the DAG and will exit sucessfully. That means that it will report that all tests passed, which only means that the DAG was compiled without any problems.

Fixture setup and teardown are executed at the moment of DAG compilation. That means that fixtures such as database connections will not be available at the moment of test execution during a DAG run.

In order to get around this problem there are two alternatives. The first alternative is to implement a fixture as a factory, and handling fixture teardown on the test itself.

Alternatively, the plugin allows deferred fixture setup and teardown. In order to achieve deferred execution, the name of the fixture must be prefixed with defer_ or it must depend on the reserved fixture task_ctx. That means that the plugin defer the execution of such fixtures until the DAG is run. Fixtures that depend on a deferred fixture will also have its execution deferred for later.

The reserved fixture task_ctx is always deferred. This fixture evaluates the Airflow task context and is available to the user when writting tests. Using this fixture, the user has access to all the items that would be available to kwargs when setting provide_context to True when using the PythonOperator in Airflow.

All in all, collection time fixture execution should be used for test parametrization, for generating expensive resources that can be made available to tests as copies and for generating fixture factories. On the other hand, deferred fixtures are great for database connections and other resources that need to be recycled at each test execution.


Finally, the sink task report can be used for reporting purposes and for communicating test results to other DAGs using the xcom channel. The user can supply its own dag_report fixture for customizing its reporting requirements. The plugin expects the following fixture signature, scoped at the session level.

def dag_report(**kwargs):

DAG Configuration

The user can configure the DAG using two reserved fixtures for this. The fixtures must be scoped at the session level and its location should cover all the collected test items. The most narrow fixture that covers all of the collected items will be selected. Otherwise, the plugin uses default values for those fixtures. Apart from that, fixture execution and discovery should operate in the usual way.

The first fixture is dag_default_args, which should return a dictionary with default_args that will be passed to the dag initialization. The default returns

{ "owner": "airflow",
  "start_date": datetime.datetime(2018, 1, 1),
  "end_date": None,
  "depends_on_past": False,

The second fixture is dag which should return an Airflow DAG that will be used throughout the script.

If the user desires only to modify the name of the DAG, it is possible to simply pass the --dag-id flag to the pytest cmdline.

If the user desires to integrate the DAG generated from this plugin in her/his own DAG. One option is to define the whole DAG inside the same file that is used by pytest to initialize the tests. If this is not possible and the DAG must be defined separately, it is possible to create a custom pytest plugin in the same file where the DAG is created and pass such plugin to pytest.main as the example below illustrates.

import pytest
from airflow import DAG

my_dag = DAG(dag_id="foo", start_date = "2017-01-01")

class MyPlugin:

  def dag(self):
    return my_dag

my_dag, source, sink = pytest.main(["--airflow"], plugins=[MyPlugin()])


This Source Code Form is subject to the terms of the Mozilla Public License, v. 2.0. If a copy of the MPL was not distributed with this file, You can obtain one at

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