YAML Fixtures in Django Tests

I have a Django project called RandoPony that handles event registration for the BC Randonneurs Cycling Club. It's on an annual release cycle; i.e. I spend the few weeks that pass for winter in Vancouver updating the project. That's when I bump it to the latest version of Django, fixing minor bugs, and adding new features that I and other users have come up with during the preceding year. Once I release a new version for the new year, I usually don't have to worry about the code until the next winter. The pony just works, facilitating people doing hundreds of thousands of kilometres of crazy long cycling events, and we like it that way!

My workflow at the beginning of the annual update looks something like:

  • Create a new virtualenv
  • Install the latest version of Django and other project dependencies
  • Read the release notes for the Django releases since the one I was working with last
  • Run the RandoPony test suite to find deprecations and other obvious breakage
  • Start hacking

I recently started working on the 2012 release of RandoPony and was blown away when I ran the test suite because there were over 60 failing tests! It took me way longer than it should have to figure out why things were so massively broken.

The problem was that the test fixtures weren't being installed. They weren't being installed because they are YAML files and I had forgotten to install PyYAML in the virtualenv. What's really annoying is that the fixtures files were being ignored silently.

It turns out that if you specify a YAML fixture for a Django TestCase:

class TestPopulairesListView(django.test.TestCase):
    """Functional tests for populaires-list view.
    fixtures = ['populaires']

without giving the fixture file a .yaml extension, the fixture will be silently ignored if PyYAML isn't installed. Really, Django?!

So, the number 1 thing that I should have done to save myself from this thrash was to explicitly specify the serialization format of my fixtures:

class TestPopulairesListView(django.test.TestCase):
    """Functional tests for populaires-list view.
    fixtures = ['populaires.yaml']

Then the Django test runner would have told me:

Problem installing fixture 'populaires': yaml is not a known
serialization format.

I'll take the hit for ignoring the PEP 20 aphorism "Explicit is better than implicit". But shouldn't Django get docked for "Errors should never pass silently"?

The other thing I should have done was use a pip requirements file for the project.

RandoPony has 2 requirements files now. requirements.txt for the packages required for the production deployment, and requirements-dev.txt for the additional packages, like PyYAML, required for development work. Now I just have to hope that I'm smart enough when I start work on the 2013 release to do:

(randopony)$ pip install -r requirements.txt
(randopony)$ pip install -r requirements-dev.txt
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