Testing for Developers

If you’re a CKAN developer, if you’re developing an extension for CKAN, or if you’re just installing CKAN from source, you should make sure that CKAN’s tests pass for your copy of CKAN. This section explains how to run CKAN’s tests.

Installing Additional Dependencies

Some additional dependencies are needed to run the tests. Make sure you’ve created a config file at /etc/ckan/default/development.ini, then activate your virtual environment:

. /usr/lib/ckan/default/bin/activate

Install nose and other test-specific CKAN dependencies into your virtual environment:

pip install -r /usr/lib/ckan/default/src/ckan/pip-requirements-test.txt

Testing with SQLite

To run the CKAN tests using SQLite as the database library:

cd /usr/lib/ckan/default/src/ckan
nosetests --ckan ckan

You must run the tests from the CKAN directory as shown above, otherwise the --ckan plugin won’t work correctly.

In deployment CKAN uses PostgreSQL, not SQLite. Running the tests with SQLite is less thorough but much quicker than with PostgreSQL, good enough for an initial check but you should run the tests with PostgreSQL before deploying anything or releasing any code.

Testing Core Extensions

CKAN’s core extensions (those extensions that are kept in the CKAN codebase alongside CKAN itself) have their own tests. For example, to run the tests for the stats extension do:

nosetests --ckan ckanext/stats

To run the tests for all of the core extensions at once:

nosetests --ckan ckanext

Or to run the CKAN tests and the core extensions tests together:

nosetests --ckan ckan ckanext

Testing with PostgreSQL

CKAN’s default nose configuration file (test.ini) specifies SQLite as the database library (it also sets faster_db_test_hacks). To run the tests more thoroughly with PostgreSQL, specify the test-core.ini nose configuration file instead, for example:

nosetests --ckan --with-pylons=test-core.ini ckan
nosetests --ckan --with-pylons=test-core.ini ckanext/stats
nosetests --ckan --with-pylons=test-core.ini ckanext
nosetests --ckan --with-pylons=test-core.ini ckan ckanext

The speed of the PostgreSQL tests can be improved by running PostgreSQL in memory and turning off durability, as described in the PostgreSQL documentation.

Migration Testing

If you’re a CKAN developer or extension developer and your new code requires a change to CKAN’s model, you’ll need to write a migration script. To ensure that the migration script itself gets tested, you should run the tests with they --ckan-migration option, for example:

nosetests --ckan --ckan-migration --with-pylons=test-core.ini ckan

By default tests are run using the model defined in ckan/model. With the --ckan-migration option the tests will run using a database that has been created by running the migration scripts in ckan/migration, which is how the database is created and upgraded in production.


Ordinarily, you should set development.ini to specify a PostgreSQL database so these also get used when running test-core.ini, since test-core.ini inherits from development.ini. If you were to change the sqlalchemy.url option in your development.ini file to use SQLite, the command above would actually test SQLite rather than PostgreSQL, so always check the setting in development.ini to ensure you are running the full tests.


A common error when wanting to run tests against a particular database is to change sqlalchemy.url in test.ini or test-core.ini. The problem is that these are versioned files and people have checked in these by mistake, creating problems for other developers and the CKAN buildbot. This is easily avoided by only changing sqlalchemy.url in your local development.ini and testing --with-pylons=test-core.ini.

Common error messages


nose.config.ConfigError: Error reading config file 'setup.cfg': no such option 'with-pylons'

This error can result when you run nosetests for two reasons:

  1. Pylons nose plugin failed to run. If this is the case, then within a couple of lines of running nosetests you’ll see this warning: Unable to load plugin pylons followed by an error message. Fix the error here first`.

  2. The Python module ‘Pylons’ is not installed into you Python environment. Confirm this with:

    python -c "import pylons"


OperationalError: (OperationalError) no such function: plainto_tsquery ...
This error usually results from running a test which involves search functionality, which requires using a PostgreSQL database, but another (such as SQLite) is configured. The particular test is either missing a @search_related decorator or there is a mixup with the test configuration files leading to the wrong database being used.


nosetests: error: no such option: --ckan

Nose is either unable to find ckan/ckan_nose_plugin.py in the python environment it is running in, or there is an error loading it. If there is an error, this will surface it:

nosetests --version

There are a few things to try to remedy this:

Commonly this is because the nosetests isn’t running in the python environment. You need to have nose actually installed in the python environment. To see which you are running, do this:

which nosetests

If you have activated the environment and this still reports /usr/bin/nosetests then you need to:

pip install --ignore-installed nose

If nose --version still fails, ensure that ckan is installed in your environment:

cd /usr/lib/ckan/default/src/ckan
python setup.py develop

One final check - the version of nose should be at least 1.0. Check with:

pip freeze | grep -i nose