Encouraging Testing in Django

I was having a conversation with Jacob tonight about testing in Django. He has shot down testmaker for being too specific for Django core, which I almost agree with, given my grandiose plans for it before the month is out. I’m quite okay with it staying a third party app for a little while longer.

However, that got us on the topic of testing, and I think it’s interesting enough to post here to get some feedback and to tell people what’s up. First we talked about trying to stub out some tests for people in the startapp command in Django. Like Rails does, except there is a really hard question about what to provide in that file. Should we provide a simple test that passes and makes people feel good about testing? Do we be evil and provide a test that fails, with assert False, 'Write some tests yo!'?

So the idea then progressed into perhaps having a command that can be called later in the process to stub out your tests files with real data. Perhaps stubbing a test for each view in your URLconf and each method in your Models or something like that.

We also talked about the possibility of adding a fifth part to the Django Intro Tutorial about testing. I think that this is a really great idea, and would help further the testing culture inside of the Django community. I volunteered to write the first draft of that document, so expect that to be posted to this blog sometime next week.

So I’m just kind of curious what people think is a good way to get testing integrated into the Django community better. I am trying to write some tools that will help people write tests, which would help them have tests :). But I think that there is a lot more that can be done to get people thinking about testing their applications.

Should we be encouraging people to be testing from when they start a new application in Django? If so, what should we put in the tests.py file when they create an application? Should we just stub out an empty tests.py file to remind them that they should be writing tests? Should we be pushing best practices from the beginning in that form, or giving people a builtin option to perhaps then stub it out later?

I think that the Django community is lacking in the testing realm these days, and I’m curious what we can be doing to get more people excited about testing. It’s a great tool, and something that everyone should be doing. So I’d love to hear feedback or ideas about what people think can and should be done with regards to testing.

Hey there! I'm Eric and I work on communities in the world of software documentation. Feel free to email me if you have comments on this post!