Category Archives: unittest

Python Flask, PeeWee and unittest

With all the web projects I work on I aim to have learned something new by the end (there’s evidence that once I have learned ‘that thing’ I rapidly lose interest in the actual project and move onto something else, but I am try to be better): with my latest (work-related site, it was to have another go at developing a test suite with  the webapp.

With this being an internal work project, I’m not at liberty to share the details, but I did find a way of developing a set of unit tests to run against a Flask application that uses the PeeWee  ORM; my previous attempt ended up with copying the whole application file and trying to modify it so that tests could be run. Not a winning strategy.

I’m not going to in any way criticise the marvellous work that goes into the Flask ecosphere and I really enjoy developing applications with it but the docs can be a littke frustrating to work with if you’re not already an expert (and why SO is so important for specific tasks) because there are many ways to skin the problem; finding the correct method that’s common to all 3 libraries is a real challenge, and the docs do actually hint at this. And why it’s worth a blog post so that I have something to refer back to in future.

The typical startup code for the Flask application might look something like,

from flask import Flask, request, flash, redirect, render_template, g, jsonify, Response, send_file
from werkzeug import Headers
from jinja2 import Environment, PackageLoader, select_autoescape
import sqlite3

app = Flask(__name__)
except KeyError:
 os.environ['APP_SETTINGS'] = os.path.join(app.root_path, '')

database = SqliteDatabase(app.config['DATABASE'])
def _db_connect():

def _db_close(exc):
  if not database.is_closed():

def init_db():
  for tbl in database.get_tables():
    database.execute_sql("drop table " + tbl)
    database.create_tables([table1, table2, ..., tableN])

with a file containing,


And this will work nicely with PeeWee as the ORM. The tricky bit has always been how to do the same with unittest.

A simple unittest script, say,, might start with,

import os
import unittest
import tempfile
import sqlite3

class ThewebappTestCase(unittest.TestCase):

  def setUp(self):
    self.db_fd,['DATABASE'] = tempfile.mkstemp() =

  def tearDown(self):

with the following in a file,,

import tempfile

db_fd, DATABASE = tempfile.mkstemp()

Then all we need to do to run the tests (so that a new temporary is created (and removed) for each test is simply set an environment variable when running the tests,

APP_SETTINGS="" python ./

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that some of this still looks a bit hairy and there’s room for improvement but I am at least able to provide a reasonable set of tests for the application without hacks and special cases (not that Python does case. Grrr)

The goal of the next project is to find a way of using PeeWee to generate a dump of the database.