DjangoCon Europe 2016 - To Mock or not to Mock, that is the Question

Speaker: Ana Balica (twitter) works at Potato London.

Thou shalt write tests! But - how do we write good tests? What do we mock, what don't we mock?

Mocks vs Stubs

Mocks aren't stubs. Mocks have data and expectations, and they have actual behaviour, while stubs are just pre-programmed and are made specifically for tests.

unittest.mock (starting with 3.3)

Mock, MagicMock and patch

Good Mocks

  • use with mock.patch.dict('foo.os.environ', {'ENV': 'production'}): to mock system envs/calls
  • use @mock.patch('sys.stdout', new=StringIO()) to mock streams/stdin/stdout
  • use with mock.patch('foo.requests.get') as mock_get: for requests
  • use m = mock.mock_opne(read_data='bla'); with mock.patch(, m, create=True) to mock files
  • use with mock.patch.object(timezone, 'now', return_value=datetime.datetime(2016,1,1,tzinfo=pytz.timezone('Europe/Berlin'))) to mock timezones

These mocks save time, make the impossible possible, and exclude external dependencies.

Combat Bad Mocks

  • Mocks will create methods as you access them, so typos MIGHT NOT BE CAUGHT
  • Use exactly the assert methods you mean
  • assert very specific values
  • or use TDD

Write tests that will last even under changing code, because people will trust positive results, and won't notice false positives.

Ways to test

  • functional tests for interaction
  • unit tests for business logic
  • mock in unit tests, but reduce mocks as far as possible for integration tests!
  • mocks can and will provide you with a false sense of security