Helpers

call

call(*args, **kwargs)

call is a helper object for making simpler assertions, for comparing with call_args, call_args_list, mock_calls and :attr: ~Mock.method_calls. call can also be used with assert_has_calls().

>>> m = MagicMock(return_value=None)
>>> m(1, 2, a='foo', b='bar')
>>> m()
>>> m.call_args_list == [call(1, 2, a='foo', b='bar'), call()]
True
call.call_list()

For a call object that represents multiple calls, call_list returns a list of all the intermediate calls as well as the final call.

call_list is particularly useful for making assertions on “chained calls”. A chained call is multiple calls on a single line of code. This results in multiple entries in mock_calls on a mock. Manually constructing the sequence of calls can be tedious.

call_list() can construct the sequence of calls from the same chained call:

>>> m = MagicMock()
>>> m(1).method(arg='foo').other('bar')(2.0)
<MagicMock name='mock().method().other()()' id='...'>
>>> kall = call(1).method(arg='foo').other('bar')(2.0)
>>> kall.call_list()
[call(1),
 call().method(arg='foo'),
 call().method().other('bar'),
 call().method().other()(2.0)]
>>> m.mock_calls == kall.call_list()
True

A call object is either a tuple of (positional args, keyword args) or (name, positional args, keyword args) depending on how it was constructed. When you construct them yourself this isn’t particularly interesting, but the call objects that are in the Mock.call_args, Mock.call_args_list and Mock.mock_calls attributes can be introspected to get at the individual arguments they contain.

The call objects in Mock.call_args and Mock.call_args_list are two-tuples of (positional args, keyword args) whereas the call objects in Mock.mock_calls, along with ones you construct yourself, are three-tuples of (name, positional args, keyword args).

You can use their “tupleness” to pull out the individual arguments for more complex introspection and assertions. The positional arguments are a tuple (an empty tuple if there are no positional arguments) and the keyword arguments are a dictionary:

>>> m = MagicMock(return_value=None)
>>> m(1, 2, 3, arg='one', arg2='two')
>>> kall = m.call_args
>>> args, kwargs = kall
>>> args
(1, 2, 3)
>>> kwargs
{'arg2': 'two', 'arg': 'one'}
>>> args is kall[0]
True
>>> kwargs is kall[1]
True

>>> m = MagicMock()
>>> m.foo(4, 5, 6, arg='two', arg2='three')
<MagicMock name='mock.foo()' id='...'>
>>> kall = m.mock_calls[0]
>>> name, args, kwargs = kall
>>> name
'foo'
>>> args
(4, 5, 6)
>>> kwargs
{'arg2': 'three', 'arg': 'two'}
>>> name is m.mock_calls[0][0]
True

create_autospec

create_autospec(spec, spec_set=False, instance=False, **kwargs)

Create a mock object using another object as a spec. Attributes on the mock will use the corresponding attribute on the spec object as their spec.

Functions or methods being mocked will have their arguments checked to ensure that they are called with the correct signature.

If spec_set is True then attempting to set attributes that don’t exist on the spec object will raise an AttributeError.

If a class is used as a spec then the return value of the mock (the instance of the class) will have the same spec. You can use a class as the spec for an instance object by passing instance=True. The returned mock will only be callable if instances of the mock are callable.

create_autospec also takes arbitrary keyword arguments that are passed to the constructor of the created mock.

See Autospeccing for examples of how to use auto-speccing with create_autospec and the autospec argument to patch().

ANY

ANY

Sometimes you may need to make assertions about some of the arguments in a call to mock, but either not care about some of the arguments or want to pull them individually out of call_args and make more complex assertions on them.

To ignore certain arguments you can pass in objects that compare equal to everything. Calls to assert_called_with() and assert_called_once_with() will then succeed no matter what was passed in.

>>> mock = Mock(return_value=None)
>>> mock('foo', bar=object())
>>> mock.assert_called_once_with('foo', bar=ANY)

ANY can also be used in comparisons with call lists like mock_calls:

>>> m = MagicMock(return_value=None)
>>> m(1)
>>> m(1, 2)
>>> m(object())
>>> m.mock_calls == [call(1), call(1, 2), ANY]
True

FILTER_DIR

FILTER_DIR

FILTER_DIR is a module level variable that controls the way mock objects respond to dir (only for Python 2.6 or more recent). The default is True, which uses the filtering described below, to only show useful members. If you dislike this filtering, or need to switch it off for diagnostic purposes, then set mock.FILTER_DIR = False.

With filtering on, dir(some_mock) shows only useful attributes and will include any dynamically created attributes that wouldn’t normally be shown. If the mock was created with a spec (or autospec of course) then all the attributes from the original are shown, even if they haven’t been accessed yet:

>>> dir(Mock())
['assert_any_call',
 'assert_called_once_with',
 'assert_called_with',
 'assert_has_calls',
 'attach_mock',
 ...
>>> import urllib2
>>> dir(Mock(spec=urllib2))
['AbstractBasicAuthHandler',
 'AbstractDigestAuthHandler',
 'AbstractHTTPHandler',
 'BaseHandler',
 ...

Many of the not-very-useful (private to Mock rather than the thing being mocked) underscore and double underscore prefixed attributes have been filtered from the result of calling dir on a Mock. If you dislike this behaviour you can switch it off by setting the module level switch FILTER_DIR:

>>> import mock
>>> mock.FILTER_DIR = False
>>> dir(mock.Mock())
['_NonCallableMock__get_return_value',
 '_NonCallableMock__get_side_effect',
 '_NonCallableMock__return_value_doc',
 '_NonCallableMock__set_return_value',
 '_NonCallableMock__set_side_effect',
 '__call__',
 '__class__',
 ...

Alternatively you can just use vars(my_mock) (instance members) and dir(type(my_mock)) (type members) to bypass the filtering irrespective of mock.FILTER_DIR.

mock_open

mock_open(mock=None, read_data=None)

A helper function to create a mock to replace the use of open. It works for open called directly or used as a context manager.

The mock argument is the mock object to configure. If None (the default) then a MagicMock will be created for you, with the API limited to methods or attributes available on standard file handles.

read_data is a string for the read method of the file handle to return. This is an empty string by default.

Using open as a context manager is a great way to ensure your file handles are closed properly and is becoming common:

with open('/some/path', 'w') as f:
    f.write('something')

The issue is that even if you mock out the call to open it is the returned object that is used as a context manager (and has __enter__ and __exit__ called).

Mocking context managers with a MagicMock is common enough and fiddly enough that a helper function is useful.

>>> from mock import mock_open
>>> m = mock_open()
>>> with patch('__main__.open', m, create=True):
...     with open('foo', 'w') as h:
...         h.write('some stuff')
...
>>> m.mock_calls
[call('foo', 'w'),
 call().__enter__(),
 call().write('some stuff'),
 call().__exit__(None, None, None)]
>>> m.assert_called_once_with('foo', 'w')
>>> handle = m()
>>> handle.write.assert_called_once_with('some stuff')

And for reading files:

>>> with patch('__main__.open', mock_open(read_data='bibble'), create=True) as m:
...     with open('foo') as h:
...         result = h.read()
...
>>> m.assert_called_once_with('foo')
>>> assert result == 'bibble'

Autospeccing

Autospeccing is based on the existing spec feature of mock. It limits the api of mocks to the api of an original object (the spec), but it is recursive (implemented lazily) so that attributes of mocks only have the same api as the attributes of the spec. In addition mocked functions / methods have the same call signature as the original so they raise a TypeError if they are called incorrectly.

Before I explain how auto-speccing works, here’s why it is needed.

Mock is a very powerful and flexible object, but it suffers from two flaws when used to mock out objects from a system under test. One of these flaws is specific to the Mock api and the other is a more general problem with using mock objects.

First the problem specific to Mock. Mock has two assert methods that are extremely handy: assert_called_with() and assert_called_once_with().

>>> mock = Mock(name='Thing', return_value=None)
>>> mock(1, 2, 3)
>>> mock.assert_called_once_with(1, 2, 3)
>>> mock(1, 2, 3)
>>> mock.assert_called_once_with(1, 2, 3)
Traceback (most recent call last):
 ...
AssertionError: Expected to be called once. Called 2 times.

Because mocks auto-create attributes on demand, and allow you to call them with arbitrary arguments, if you misspell one of these assert methods then your assertion is gone:

>>> mock = Mock(name='Thing', return_value=None)
>>> mock(1, 2, 3)
>>> mock.assret_called_once_with(4, 5, 6)

Your tests can pass silently and incorrectly because of the typo.

The second issue is more general to mocking. If you refactor some of your code, rename members and so on, any tests for code that is still using the old api but uses mocks instead of the real objects will still pass. This means your tests can all pass even though your code is broken.

Note that this is another reason why you need integration tests as well as unit tests. Testing everything in isolation is all fine and dandy, but if you don’t test how your units are “wired together” there is still lots of room for bugs that tests might have caught.

mock already provides a feature to help with this, called speccing. If you use a class or instance as the spec for a mock then you can only access attributes on the mock that exist on the real class:

>>> import urllib2
>>> mock = Mock(spec=urllib2.Request)
>>> mock.assret_called_with
Traceback (most recent call last):
 ...
AttributeError: Mock object has no attribute 'assret_called_with'

The spec only applies to the mock itself, so we still have the same issue with any methods on the mock:

>>> mock.has_data()
<mock.Mock object at 0x...>
>>> mock.has_data.assret_called_with()

Auto-speccing solves this problem. You can either pass autospec=True to patch / patch.object or use the create_autospec function to create a mock with a spec. If you use the autospec=True argument to patch then the object that is being replaced will be used as the spec object. Because the speccing is done “lazily” (the spec is created as attributes on the mock are accessed) you can use it with very complex or deeply nested objects (like modules that import modules that import modules) without a big performance hit.

Here’s an example of it in use:

>>> import urllib2
>>> patcher = patch('__main__.urllib2', autospec=True)
>>> mock_urllib2 = patcher.start()
>>> urllib2 is mock_urllib2
True
>>> urllib2.Request
<MagicMock name='urllib2.Request' spec='Request' id='...'>

You can see that urllib2.Request has a spec. urllib2.Request takes two arguments in the constructor (one of which is self). Here’s what happens if we try to call it incorrectly:

>>> req = urllib2.Request()
Traceback (most recent call last):
 ...
TypeError: <lambda>() takes at least 2 arguments (1 given)

The spec also applies to instantiated classes (i.e. the return value of specced mocks):

>>> req = urllib2.Request('foo')
>>> req
<NonCallableMagicMock name='urllib2.Request()' spec='Request' id='...'>

Request objects are not callable, so the return value of instantiating our mocked out urllib2.Request is a non-callable mock. With the spec in place any typos in our asserts will raise the correct error:

>>> req.add_header('spam', 'eggs')
<MagicMock name='urllib2.Request().add_header()' id='...'>
>>> req.add_header.assret_called_with
Traceback (most recent call last):
 ...
AttributeError: Mock object has no attribute 'assret_called_with'
>>> req.add_header.assert_called_with('spam', 'eggs')

In many cases you will just be able to add autospec=True to your existing patch calls and then be protected against bugs due to typos and api changes.

As well as using autospec through patch there is a create_autospec() for creating autospecced mocks directly:

>>> import urllib2
>>> mock_urllib2 = create_autospec(urllib2)
>>> mock_urllib2.Request('foo', 'bar')
<NonCallableMagicMock name='mock.Request()' spec='Request' id='...'>

This isn’t without caveats and limitations however, which is why it is not the default behaviour. In order to know what attributes are available on the spec object, autospec has to introspect (access attributes) the spec. As you traverse attributes on the mock a corresponding traversal of the original object is happening under the hood. If any of your specced objects have properties or descriptors that can trigger code execution then you may not be able to use autospec. On the other hand it is much better to design your objects so that introspection is safe [1].

A more serious problem is that it is common for instance attributes to be created in the __init__ method and not to exist on the class at all. autospec can’t know about any dynamically created attributes and restricts the api to visible attributes.

>>> class Something(object):
...   def __init__(self):
...     self.a = 33
...
>>> with patch('__main__.Something', autospec=True):
...   thing = Something()
...   thing.a
...
Traceback (most recent call last):
  ...
AttributeError: Mock object has no attribute 'a'

There are a few different ways of resolving this problem. The easiest, but not necessarily the least annoying, way is to simply set the required attributes on the mock after creation. Just because autospec doesn’t allow you to fetch attributes that don’t exist on the spec it doesn’t prevent you setting them:

>>> with patch('__main__.Something', autospec=True):
...   thing = Something()
...   thing.a = 33
...

There is a more aggressive version of both spec and autospec that does prevent you setting non-existent attributes. This is useful if you want to ensure your code only sets valid attributes too, but obviously it prevents this particular scenario:

>>> with patch('__main__.Something', autospec=True, spec_set=True):
...   thing = Something()
...   thing.a = 33
...
Traceback (most recent call last):
 ...
AttributeError: Mock object has no attribute 'a'

Probably the best way of solving the problem is to add class attributes as default values for instance members initialised in __init__. Note that if you are only setting default attributes in __init__ then providing them via class attributes (shared between instances of course) is faster too. e.g.

class Something(object):
    a = 33

This brings up another issue. It is relatively common to provide a default value of None for members that will later be an object of a different type. None would be useless as a spec because it wouldn’t let you access any attributes or methods on it. As None is never going to be useful as a spec, and probably indicates a member that will normally of some other type, autospec doesn’t use a spec for members that are set to None. These will just be ordinary mocks (well - MagicMocks):

>>> class Something(object):
...     member = None
...
>>> mock = create_autospec(Something)
>>> mock.member.foo.bar.baz()
<MagicMock name='mock.member.foo.bar.baz()' id='...'>

If modifying your production classes to add defaults isn’t to your liking then there are more options. One of these is simply to use an instance as the spec rather than the class. The other is to create a subclass of the production class and add the defaults to the subclass without affecting the production class. Both of these require you to use an alternative object as the spec. Thankfully patch supports this - you can simply pass the alternative object as the autospec argument:

>>> class Something(object):
...   def __init__(self):
...     self.a = 33
...
>>> class SomethingForTest(Something):
...   a = 33
...
>>> p = patch('__main__.Something', autospec=SomethingForTest)
>>> mock = p.start()
>>> mock.a
<NonCallableMagicMock name='Something.a' spec='int' id='...'>

Note

An additional limitation (currently) with autospec is that unbound methods on mocked classes don’t take an “explicit self” as the first argument - so this usage will fail with autospec.

>>> class Foo(object):
...   def foo(self):
...     pass
...
>>> Foo.foo(Foo())
>>> MockFoo = create_autospec(Foo)
>>> MockFoo.foo(MockFoo())
Traceback (most recent call last):
  ...
TypeError: <lambda>() takes exactly 1 argument (2 given)

The reason is that its very hard to tell the difference between functions, unbound methods and staticmethods across Python 2 & 3 and the alternative implementations. This restriction may be fixed in future versions.


[1]This only applies to classes or already instantiated objects. Calling a mocked class to create a mock instance does not create a real instance. It is only attribute lookups - along with calls to dir - that are done. A way round this problem would have been to use getattr_static, which can fetch attributes without triggering code execution. Descriptors like classmethod and staticmethod need to be fetched correctly though, so that their signatures can be mocked correctly.

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