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unit test generator for Python

Project description


Easiest way to get Pythoscope is via setuptools:

$ easy_install  pythoscope

You can also download a source package from–files/download/pythoscope-0.3.tar.gz. or get a copy of a development branch using bazaar:

bzr branch lp:pythoscope


You can use the tool through a single pythoscope command. To prepare your project for use with Pythoscope, type:

$ pythoscope  --init  path/to/your/project/

It’s only doing static analysis, and doesn’t import your modules or execute your code in any way, so you’re perfectly safe to run it on anything you want. After that, a directory named .pythoscope will be created in the current directory. To generate test stubs based on your project, select files you want to generate tests for:

$ pythoscope  path/to/your/project/specific/  path/to/your/project/other/*.py

Test files will be saved to your test directory, if you have one, or into a new tests/ directory otherwise. Test cases are aggregated into TestCase classes. Currently each production class and each production function gets its own TestCase class.

Some of the classes and functions are ignored by the generator - all which name begins with an underscore, exception classes, and some others.

Generator itself is configurable to some extent, see:

$ pythoscope  --help

for more information on available options.


Let’s say you’re working on this old Python project. It’s ugly and unpredictable, but you have no choice but to keep it alive. Luckily you’ve heard about this new tool called Pythoscope, which can help you cure the old guy.

You start by descending to the project directory:

$ cd wild_pythons/

and initializing Pythoscope internal structures:

$ pythoscope --init

This command creates .pythoscope/ subdirectory, which will hold all information related to Pythoscope. You look at the poor snake:

$ cat
class OldPython(object):
    def __init__(self, age):
        pass # more code...

    def hiss(self):
        pass # even more code...

and decide that it requires immediate attention. So you run Pythoscope on it:

$ pythoscope

and see a test module generated in the tests/ directory:

$ cat tests/
import unittest

class TestOldPython(unittest.TestCase):
    def test_hiss(self):
        assert False # TODO: implement your test here

    def test_object_initialization(self):
        assert False # TODO: implement your test here

if __name__ == '__main__':

That’s a starting point for your testing struggle, but there’s much more Pythoscope can help you with. All you have to do is give it some more information about your project.

Since Python is a very dynamic language it’s no surprise that most information about the application can be gathered during runtime. But legacy applications can be tricky and dangerous, so Pythoscope won’t run any code at all unless you explicitly tell it to do so. You can specify which code is safe to run through, so called, points of entry.

Point of entry is a plain Python module that executes some parts of your code. You should keep each point of entry in a separate file in the .pythoscope/points-of-entry/ directory. Let’s look closer at our old friend:

$ cat
class OldPython(object):
    def __init__(self, age):
        if age < 50:
            raise ValueError("%d isn't old" % age)
        self.age = age

    def hiss(self):
        if self.age < 60:
            return "sss sss"
        elif self.age < 70:
            return "SSss SSss"
            return "sss... *cough* *cough*"

Based on that definition we come up with the following point of entry:

$ cat .pythoscope/points-of-entry/
from old_python import OldPython

Once we have that we may try to generate new test cases. Simply call pythoscope on the old python again:

$ pythoscope

Pythoscope will execute our new point of entry, gathering as much dynamic information as possible. If you look at your test module now you’ll notice that a new test case has been added:

$ cat tests/
from old_python import OldPython
import unittest

class TestOldPython(unittest.TestCase):
    def test_hiss(self):
        assert False # TODO: implement your test here

    def test_object_initialization(self):
        assert False # TODO: implement your test here

    def test_hiss_returns_sss_cough_cough_after_creation_with_123(self):
        old_python = OldPython(age=123)
        self.assertEqual('sss... *cough* *cough*', old_python.hiss())

if __name__ == '__main__':

Pythoscope correctly captured creation of the OldPython object and call to its hiss() method. Congratulations, you have a first working test case without doing much work! But Pythoscope can generate more than just invdividual test cases. It all depends on the points of entry you define. More high-level they are, the more information Pythoscope will be able to gather, which directly translates to the number of generated test cases.

So let’s try writing another point of entry. But first look at another module we have in our project:

$ cat
from old_python import OldPython

class OldNest(object):
    def __init__(self, ages):
        self.pythons = []
        for age in ages:
            except ValueError:
                pass # Ignore the youngsters.
    def put_hand(self):
        return '\n'.join([python.hiss() for python in self.pythons])

This module seems a bit higher-level than Yet, writing a point of entry for it is also straightforward:

$ cat .pythoscope/points-of-entry/
from old_nest import OldNest
OldNest([45, 55, 65, 75]).put_hand()

Don’t hesitate and run Pythoscope right away. Note that you can provide many modules as arguments - all of them will be handled at once:

$ pythoscope

This new point of entry not only allowed to create a test case for OldNest:

$ cat tests/
import unittest
from old_nest import OldNest

class TestOldNest(unittest.TestCase):
    def test_put_hand_returns_sss_sss_SSss_SSss_sss_cough_cough_after_creation_with_45_55_65_75(self):
        old_nest = OldNest(ages=[45, 55, 65, 75])
        self.assertEqual('sss sss\nSSss SSss\nsss... *cough* *cough*', old_nest.put_hand())

if __name__ == '__main__':

but also added 4 new test cases for OldPython:

def test_creation_with_45_raises_value_error(self):
    self.assertRaises(ValueError, lambda: OldPython(age=45))

def test_hiss_returns_SSss_SSss_after_creation_with_65(self):
    old_python = OldPython(age=65)
    self.assertEqual('SSss SSss', old_python.hiss())

def test_hiss_returns_sss_cough_cough_after_creation_with_75(self):
    old_python = OldPython(age=75)
    self.assertEqual('sss... *cough* *cough*', old_python.hiss())

def test_hiss_returns_sss_sss_after_creation_with_55(self):
    old_python = OldPython(age=55)
    self.assertEqual('sss sss', old_python.hiss())

You got all of that for mere 2 additional lines of code. What’s even better is the fact that you can safely modify and extend test cases generated by Pythoscope. Once you write another point of entry or add new behavior to your system you can run Pythoscope again and it will only append new test cases to existing test modules, preserving any modifications you could have made to them.

That sums up this basic tutorial. If you have any questions feel free to ask them on the pythoscope google group.


All Pythoscope source code is licensed under an MIT license (see LICENSE file). All files under lib2to3/ are licensed under PSF license.



  • Fixed generate bug for test modules (#264449).

  • .pythoscope became a directory.

  • Introduced –init option for initializing .pythoscope/ directory.

  • Added a notion of points of entry introducing dynamic analysis.

  • Pythoscope can now generate assert_equal and assert_raises type of assertions.

  • Implemented no more inspect command blueprint.

  • Changed the default test directory from pythoscope-tests/ to tests/.

  • Added a tutorial to the README file.


  • Fixed the inner classes bug (#260924).

  • Collector appends new data to .pythoscope file instead of overwriting it.

  • Test modules are being analyzed as well.

  • Using lib2to3 for static code analysis instead of stdlib’s compiler module.

  • Generator can append test cases to existing test modules. Preserves comments and original whitespace.

  • Cheetah is no longer a dependency.

  • Renamed ‘collect’ command to ‘inspect’.


Contains a packaging bug fix, which prevented users from using the tests cases generator and running internal pythoscope tests.


First release, featuring static code analysis and generation of test stubs.

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