Django Unit Tests for Different Databases

Test | | Industry Thoughts

We run our unit tests against SQLite. This allows us to run the tests very frequently (because SQLite with an in-memory data is FAST). Most of our tests do not depend on the database backend, so this is not a problem.

Today however, I fixed a bug that affected MySQL but not SQLite, so my unit test passed with or without the fix in place. I wanted to run this test case against MySQL while continuing to run the bulk of our test suite against SQLite. I did not find anything on the web about doing this so I devised a method for it.

My method leverages Django’s multidb functionality, we are able to register the `default` database as well as an additional `mysql` database. The `default` database will be used for the entire test suite. What I needed was a way to direct my single test case to the `mysql` database. I did this using a unittest.TestCase subclass and a Django database router.

The `unittest.TestCase` subclass utilizes the `unittest.TestCase.setUp()` method to store the database name in thread local storage. The router looks for a database name in thread local storage, and routes queries accordingly. The `TestCase.tearDown()` method removes the database name from thread local storage to restore routing to the `default` database.

The only other issue is that the `unittest.TestCase` class must set the `multi_db` attribute to `True`. This is necessary to ensure that any test fixtures are loaded to both databases not just `default`. This is also handled by the mixin.

If you need something like this, the relevant code can be found in this gist.

Ben Timby

I am the Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder of SmartFile. I'm in charge of the operations and engineering of SmartFile Web Application. I'm also well-versed in several different programming languages including python and django. View my GitHub profile at

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