I'm a Java/C coder getting started with some Python for a side-project. I've written some unit tests for a recent side-project I'm working on, but I have a sinking suspicion I'm just writing Java-code, translated into Python.

I've posted a small sample of some unit-tests I wrote. I'd really appreciate any advice in how to make the code more Pythonic (best-practices, conventions, etc).

import unittest
import urllib2
from connectionstate import ConnectionState

class Test(unittest.TestCase):
  """Unit tests for the ConnectionState"""

  def test_connectionstate_reports_bad_network_connection(self):
    """ConnectionState reports a failure when currently disconnected"""

    #Set up ConnectionState around mock
    always_disconnected = mock_connection_check_func_always_disconnected
    connstate_with_mock = ConnectionState(always_disconnected)

    actual_state = connstate_with_mock.is_connected()
    self.assertEqual(actual_state, False)

  def test_connectionstate_detects_good_network_connection(self):
    """ConnectionState should report success when we can connect"""
    #Set up ConnectionState around mock
    always_connected = mock_connection_check_func_always_connected
    connstate_with_mock = ConnectionState(always_connected)

    actual_state = connstate_with_mock.is_connected()
    self.assertEqual(actual_state, True)

  def test_connectionstate_remembers_disconnections(self):
    """If the internet connection drops and then comes back, ConnectionState
    can remember that the connection dropped temporarily
    #Set up ConnectionState around mock
    sometimes_connected = mock_conn_every_other_conn_succeeds
    connstate_with_mock = ConnectionState(sometimes_connected)

    #Call is_connected a few times so get an unsuccessful connection
    for count in range(0, 3): 

    actual_result = connstate_with_mock.has_connection_dropped()
    self.assertEqual(actual_result, True)

  def test_connectionstate_doesnt_bring_up_ancient_history(self):
    """has_connection_dropped only reports failures that have happened
    since the last call to has_connection_dropped.  Calling
    #Set up ConnectionState around mock
    sometimes_connected = mock_conn_every_other_conn_succeeds
    connstate_with_mock = ConnectionState(sometimes_connected)

    #Call is connected a few times so an unsuccessful connection is reported
    for count in range(0, 3):

    #Call once to clear failures

    actual_result = connstate_with_mock.has_connection_dropped()
    self.assertEqual(actual_result, False)

#Begin mock-connection functions
def mock_connection_check_func_always_disconnected(request=None, timeout=1):
  raise urllib2.URLError("Unable to connect to network")
def mock_connection_check_func_always_connected(request=None, timeout=1):
def mock_conn_every_other_conn_succeeds(request=None, timeout=1):
  #Initialize 'static' call-counter variable
  if "call_counter" not in mock_conn_every_other_conn_succeeds.__dict__:
    mock_conn_every_other_conn_succeeds.call_counter = 0;

  mock_conn_every_other_conn_succeeds.call_counter += 1

  if mock_conn_every_other_conn_succeeds.call_counter % 2 == 0:
    mock_connection_check_func_always_disconnected(request, timeout)
    mock_connection_check_func_always_connected(request, timeout)
#End mock-connection functions

if __name__ == "__main__":

1 Answer 1


I have a few nitpicks:

  • If you use assertFalse and assertTrue instead of assertEquals(something, True/False) where appropriate, the output of your unit tests will make more sense when they fail. (http://docs.python.org/2/library/unittest.html#assert-methods)
  • The argument order of assertEquals is expected, actual. Again, if you use the correct order the error messages will work as intended.
  • A more common style for when you want a block of code to execute a fixed number of times (like in for count in range(0, 3):) is: for _ in xrange(3):. The _ tells the reader that the value is unimportant, and xrange uses less memory since it doesn't create a list.
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ count() is compatible with Python 3. For small counts, compatibility might be more important than the memory savings from xrange(). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 18:08
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ There is no indication in the docs, or in the error messages, that assertEqual(expected, actual) is the correct signature. \$\endgroup\$
    – K3---rnc
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 17:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with @K3---rnc Even in the official docs it's the oposite: assertEqual(actual, expected): docs.python.org/3/library/unittest.html#basic-example For me this way makes more sense because in an if condition you also do it that way: if result == 1: \$\endgroup\$
    – Menda
    Commented Aug 17, 2017 at 16:14

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