Pytest-pytest-2.3: reasoning for fixture/funcarg evolution

Target audience: Reading this document requires basic knowledge of
python testing, xUnit setup methods and the (previous) basic pytest
funcarg mechanism, see
https://docs.pytest.org/en/stable/historical-notes.html#funcargs-and-pytest-funcarg.
If you are new to pytest, then you can simply ignore this section and
read the other sections.

::: {.currentmodule}
_pytest
:::

Shortcomings of the previous pytest_funcarg__ mechanism

The pre pytest-2.3 funcarg mechanism calls a factory each time a funcarg
for a test function is required. If a factory wants to re-use a resource
across different scopes, it often used the request.cached_setup()
helper to manage caching of resources. Here is a basic example how we
could implement a per-session Database object:

# content of conftest.py
class Database:
    def __init__(self):
        print("database instance created")

    def destroy(self):
        print("database instance destroyed")


def pytest_funcarg__db(request):
    return request.cached_setup(
        setup=DataBase, teardown=lambda db: db.destroy, scope="session"
    )

There are several limitations and difficulties with this approach:

  1. Scoping funcarg resource creation is not straight forward, instead
    one must understand the intricate cached_setup() method mechanics.
  2. parametrizing the “db” resource is not straight forward: you need
    to apply a “parametrize” decorator or implement a
    :py~hookspec.pytest_generate_tests{.interpreted-text role=“func”}
    hook calling :py~python.Metafunc.parametrize{.interpreted-text
    role=“func”} which performs parametrization at the places where the
    resource is used. Moreover, you need to modify the factory to use an
    extrakey parameter containing request.param to the
    Request.cached_setup call.
  3. Multiple parametrized session-scoped resources will be active at the
    same time, making it hard for them to affect global state of the
    application under test.
  4. there is no way how you can make use of funcarg factories in xUnit
    setup methods.
  5. A non-parametrized fixture function cannot use a parametrized
    funcarg resource if it isn’t stated in the test function signature.

All of these limitations are addressed with pytest-2.3 and its improved
fixture mechanism <fixture>{.interpreted-text role=“ref”}.

Direct scoping of fixture/funcarg factories

Instead of calling cached_setup() with a cache scope, you can use the
@pytest.fixture <pytest.fixture>{.interpreted-text role=“ref”}
decorator and directly state the scope:

@pytest.fixture(scope="session")
def db(request):
    # factory will only be invoked once per session -
    db = DataBase()
    request.addfinalizer(db.destroy)  # destroy when session is finished
    return db

This factory implementation does not need to call cached_setup()
anymore because it will only be invoked once per session. Moreover, the
request.addfinalizer() registers a finalizer according to the
specified resource scope on which the factory function is operating.

Direct parametrization of funcarg resource factories

Previously, funcarg factories could not directly cause parametrization.
You needed to specify a @parametrize decorator on your test function
or implement a pytest_generate_tests hook to perform parametrization,
i.e. calling a test multiple times with different value sets. pytest-2.3
introduces a decorator for use on the factory itself:

@pytest.fixture(params=["mysql", "pg"])
def db(request):
    ...  # use request.param

Here the factory will be invoked twice (with the respective “mysql”
and “pg” values set as request.param attributes) and all of the
tests requiring “db” will run twice as well. The “mysql” and “pg”
values will also be used for reporting the test-invocation variants.

This new way of parametrizing funcarg factories should in many cases
allow to re-use already written factories because effectively
request.param was already used when test functions/classes were
parametrized via
:pymetafunc.parametrize(indirect=True) <_pytest.python.Metafunc.parametrize>{.interpreted-text
role=“func”} calls.

Of course it’s perfectly fine to combine parametrization and scoping:

@pytest.fixture(scope="session", params=["mysql", "pg"])
def db(request):
        db = MySQL()
        db = PG()
    request.addfinalizer(db.destroy)  # destroy when session is finished
    return db

This would execute all tests requiring the per-session “db” resource
twice, receiving the values created by the two respective invocations to
the factory function.

No pytest_funcarg__ prefix when using @fixture decorator

When using the @fixture decorator the name of the function denotes the
name under which the resource can be accessed as a function argument:

@pytest.fixture()
def db(request):
    ...

The name under which the funcarg resource can be requested is db.

You can still use the “old” non-decorator way of specifying funcarg
factories aka:

def pytest_funcarg__db(request):
    ...

But it is then not possible to define scoping and parametrization. It is
thus recommended to use the factory decorator.

solving per-session setup / autouse fixtures

pytest for a long time offered a pytest_configure and a
pytest_sessionstart hook which are often used to setup global resources.
This suffers from several problems:

  1. in distributed testing the master process would setup test resources
    that are never needed because it only co-ordinates the test run
    activities of the worker processes.
  2. if you only perform a collection (with “–collect-only”)
    resource-setup will still be executed.
  3. If a pytest_sessionstart is contained in some subdirectories
    conftest.py file, it will not be called. This stems from the fact
    that this hook is actually used for reporting, in particular the
    test-header with platform/custom information.

Moreover, it was not easy to define a scoped setup from plugins or
conftest files other than to implement a pytest_runtest_setup() hook
and caring for scoping/caching yourself. And it’s virtually impossible
to do this with parametrization as pytest_runtest_setup() is called
during test execution and parametrization happens at collection time.

It follows that pytest_configure/session/runtest_setup are often not
appropriate for implementing common fixture needs. Therefore, pytest-2.3
introduces autouse fixtures{.interpreted-text role=“ref”} which fully
integrate with the generic
fixture mechanism <fixture>{.interpreted-text role=“ref”} and obsolete
many prior uses of pytest hooks.

funcargs/fixture discovery now happens at collection time

Since pytest-2.3, discovery of fixture/funcarg factories are taken care
of at collection time. This is more efficient especially for large test
suites. Moreover, a call to “pytest --collect-only” should be able to
in the future show a lot of setup-information and thus presents a nice
method to get an overview of fixture management in your project.

Conclusion and compatibility notes{#compatibility notes} {#funcargscompat}

funcargs were originally introduced to pytest-2.0. In pytest-2.3 the
mechanism was extended and refined and is now described as fixtures:

  • previously funcarg factories were specified with a special
    pytest_funcarg__NAME prefix instead of using the @pytest.fixture
    decorator.
  • Factories received a request object which managed caching through
    request.cached_setup() calls and allowed using other funcargs via
    request.getfuncargvalue() calls. These intricate APIs made it hard
    to do proper parametrization and implement resource caching. The new
    :pypytest.fixture{.interpreted-text role=“func”} decorator allows
    to declare the scope and let pytest figure things out for you.
  • if you used parametrization and funcarg factories which made use of
    request.cached_setup() it is recommended to invest a few minutes
    and simplify your fixture function code to use the
    @pytest.fixture{.interpreted-text role=“ref”} decorator instead.
    This will also allow to take advantage of the automatic per-resource
    grouping of tests.