That's weird...

Speeding up the Django database creation with pytest

· Apostolis Bessas

The standard way to set up the database for running your Django test suite is to run the the projects migrations from scratch.

This can be quite slow, though, when there are many migrations. For this reason, pytest-django provides an option to keep the database between runs, so as to avoid this cost every time (--reuse-db option).

However, one still has to create the database every now and then from scratch, e.g. when there are new migrations in the current branch.

One way to always make setting up the database fast is to cache the database schema itself and use pytest-django’s hooks to load it and only then apply any necessary migrations.

The process is the following:

  • Run the test suite with the --reuse-db option.
  • Use pg_dump (or equivalent) to create a backup of your database and commit it in your main branch.
  • Override pytest-django’s fixtures in the top-level file to first load the backup (using pg_restore or equivalent) and then run the migrations. Every branch should be rebased on top of devel frequently.

Here is an example implementation:

import subprocess

import pytest
from django.conf import settings
from django.db import connection

def _django_db_setup(request, _django_test_environment,
    """Load cached schema from the filesystem before running the migrations."""
    from import call_command

    config = request.config
    django_db_keepdb = all([
        config.getvalue('reuse_db'), not config.getvalue('create_db')

    test_database_name = 'test_db'

    if django_db_keepdb:
        # Update settings and return.
        settings.DATABASES[connection.alias]["NAME"] = test_database_name
        connection.settings_dict["NAME"] = test_database_name

    with _django_cursor_wrapper:
        cursor = connection.cursor()
        cursor.execute("DROP DATABASE IF EXISTS %s" % test_database_name)
            "CREATE DATABASE %s WITH TEMPLATE template1" % test_database_name
    cmd = (
        'pg_restore -n public -U %s -h %s '
        '-d test_db test_db_schema.dump'
    username = settings.DATABASES['default']['USER']
    host = settings.DATABASES['default']['HOST'] % (username, host), shell=True)

    with _django_cursor_wrapper:
        settings.DATABASES[connection.alias]["NAME"] = test_database_name
        connection.settings_dict["NAME"] = test_database_name
        call_command('migrate', '--noinput')