Matt Segal Dev

Run your Python unit tests via GitHub actions

Mon 27 April 2020, by Matthew Segal
Category: Programming

You've written some unit tests for your Python app. Good for you! There are dozens of us, dozens! You don't always remember to run your tests, or worse, your colleagues don't always remember to run them.

Wouldn't it be nice to automatically run unit tests on every commit to GitHub? What about on every pull request? You can do this with GitHub Actions. You'd be able to hunt down commits that broke the build, and if you're feeling blamey, who broke the build. Sounds complicated, but it's not. Sounds like it might cost money, but the free version has ~30 hours of execution per month. Let me show you how to set this up.

There is example code for this blog post here.

Setting up your project

I'm going to assume that:

If you're already running unit tests locally you can skip this section. Otherwise, your Python project's folder looks something like this:

├── env                     Python virtualenv
├── requirements.txt        Python requirements
├──               Project description
└──                Your code

If you don't have tests already, I recommend trying pytest (and adding it to your requirements.txt).

pip install pytest

You'll need at least one test

from stuff import run_stuff

def test_run_stuff():
    result = run_stuff()
    assert result == 1

You'll want to make sure your tests run and pass locally


Set up your Action

You'll need to create new a file in a new folder: .github/workflows/ci.yml. You can learn more about these config files here. Here's an example file:

name: Project Tests
      - master
      - master

    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
      - uses: actions/[email protected]
      - name: Set up Python 3.6
        uses: actions/[email protected]
          python-version: 3.6
      - name: Install dependencies
        run: |
          python -m pip install --upgrade pip
          pip install -r requirements.txt
      - name: Test with pytest
        run: pytest -vv

Now your project looks like this:

├── .github                 GitHub hidden folder
|   └── workflows           Some other folder
|       └── ci.yml          GitHub Actions config
├── env                     Python virtualenv
├── requirements.txt        Python requirements
├──               Project description
├──           pytest unit tests
└──                Your code

Commit your changes, push it up to GitHub and watch your tests run!

Sometimes they fail:

Sometimes they pass:

Add a badge to your README

You can add a "badge" to your project's Assuming your project was hosted at, you can add this to your file:


Next steps

Write some tests, run them locally, and then let GitHub run them for you on every commit from now on. If you get stuck, check out this minimal reference or the Actions docs.

If you have any feedback or questions email me at [email protected]