Running and writing tests

Good code needs tests.

A project like django CMS simply can’t afford to incorporate new code that doesn’t come with its own tests.

Tests provide some necessary minimum confidence: they can show the code will behave as it expected, and help identify what’s going wrong if something breaks it.

Not insisting on good tests when code is committed is like letting a gang of teenagers without a driving licence borrow your car on a Friday night, even if you think they are very nice teenagers and they really promise to be careful.

We certainly do want your contributions and fixes, but we need your tests with them too. Otherwise, we’d be compromising our codebase.

So, you are going to have to include tests if you want to contribute. However, writing tests is not particularly difficult, and there are plenty of examples to crib from in the code to help you.

Running tests

There’s more than one way to do this, but here’s one to help you get started:

# create a virtual environment
virtualenv test-django-cms

# activate it
cd test-django-cms/
source bin/activate

# get django CMS from GitHub
git clone

# install the dependencies for testing
# note that requirements files for other Django versions are also provided
pip install -r django-cms/test_requirements/django-1.6.txt

# run the test suite
# note that you must be in the django-cms directory when you do this,
# otherwise you'll get "Template not found" errors
cd django-cms
python test

It can take a few minutes to run. Note that the selenium tests included in the test suite require that you have Firefox installed.

When you run tests against your own new code, don’t forget that it’s useful to repeat them for different versions of Python and Django.

Problems running the tests

We are working to improve the performance and reliability of our test suite. We’re aware of certain problems, but need feedback from people using a wide range of systems and configurations in order to benefit from their experience.

Please use the open issue #3684 Test suite is error-prone on our GitHub repository to report such problems.

If you can help improve the test suite, your input will be especially valuable.

OS X users

In some versions of OS X, getttext needs to be installed so that it is available to Django. If you run the tests and find that various tests in cms.tests.frontend and cms.tests.reversion_tests.ReversionTestCase raise errors, it’s likely that you have this problem.

A solution is:

brew install gettext && brew link --force gettext

(This requires the installation of Homebrew)

ERROR: test_copy_to_from_clipboard (cms.tests.frontend.PlaceholderBasicTests)

You may find that a single frontend test raises an error. This sometimes happens, for some users, when the entire suite is run. To work around this you can invoke the test class on its own: test cms.PlaceholderBasicTests

and it should then run without errors.

Advanced testing options is the django CMS development helper script.

To use a different database, set the DATABASE_URL environment variable to a dj-database-url compatible value.

-h, --help

Show help.


Show CMS version.


Specifies a custom user model to use for testing, the shell, or the server. The name must be in the format <app name>.<model name>, and the custom app must reside in the cms.test_utils.projects module. test

Runs the test suite. Optionally takes test labels as arguments to limit the tests which should be run. Test labels should be in the same format as used in test.


Use a virtual X framebuffer for frontend testing, requires xvfbwrapper to be installed.

With this option you won’t need a physical display.


Runs tests in parallel, using one worker process per available CPU core.

Cannot be used together with test --failfast.


The output of the worker processes will be shown interleaved, which means that you’ll get the results from each worker process individually, which might cause confusing output at the end of the test run.


Stop running tests on the first failure or error. timed test

Run the test suite and print the ten slowest tests. Optionally takes test labels as arguments to limit the tests which should be run. Test labels should be in the same format as used in test. isolated test

Runs each test in the test suite in a new process, thus making sure that tests don’t leak state. This takes a very long time to run. Optionally takes test labels as arguments to limit the tests which should be run. Test labels should be in the same format as used in test.


Same as test --parallel. server

Run a server locally for testing. This is similar to runserver.

--port <port>

Port to bind to. Defaults to 8000.

--bind <bind>

Interface to bind to. Defaults to


Use migrations instead of plain syncdb.

application-name, migration-number

Options to specify a single migration to migrate to. When using Django 1.6 it only works if –migrate option is specified. shell

Opens a Django shell. This is similar to shell. compilemessages

Compiles the po files to mo files. This is similar to compilemessages.

Writing tests

Contributing tests is widely regarded as a very prestigious contribution (you’re making everybody’s future work much easier by doing so). Good karma for you. Cookie points. Maybe even a beer if we meet in person :)

What we need

We have a wide and comprehensive library of unit-tests and integration tests with good coverage.

Generally tests should be:

  • Unitary (as much as possible). i.e. should test as much as possible only one function/method/class. That’s the very definition of unit tests. Integration tests are interesting too obviously, but require more time to maintain since they have a higher probability of breaking.
  • Short running. No hard numbers here, but if your one test doubles the time it takes for everybody to run them, it’s probably an indication that you’re doing it wrong.
  • Easy to understand. If your test code isn’t obvious, please add comments on what it’s doing.