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Parallel and Remote Test Execution with pytest-xdist

2019.1 PyCharm version will come with native pytest-xdist support so I spent some time playing with it to discover a bunch of neat features. Some were a bit hard to get working right away so here are some notes for future references.

It takes ~1m 12s to run the test suit on my machine. The number will be used to compare with different execution modes below.

Utilize CPU Cores

  • Run pytest -n <number_of_cores> to get your test parallelled
  • Use -n auto to auto detect the max number of cores and use it

I have 8 cores, so pytest -n 8 gives me 36s which is not 8 times faster of course but a significant boost anyway.

Possible Problems

I was surprised to discover that not all tests can be paralleled, for example:

@pytest.mark.parametrize('platform', {'linux', 'darwin', 'win32'})
def test_support_os(mocker, platform, log, runner, mock_archive_project):
    mocker.patch('sys.platform', platform)
    result = runner.invoke(cli, ['archive'])
    assert result.exit_code == 0
    assert 'Wrong os' not in log.text

The problem is a set of platforms. Set in Python is unordered collection so when running in different processes there's no way for pytest-xdist to ensure linux is going to be tested in process A, while darwin in process B, it can be both linux, both darwin and so on.

So to use pytest-xdist your tests case list should always be determined between runs.

Utilizing Subprocesses

  • Run pytest -d --tx 3*popen//python=<path_to_python_executable> to start 3 subprocesses and run your tests there
  • -d is important as it tells pytest to load-balance tests
  • Use --dist instead of -d to specify a different test distribution policy

It takes 34s to execute tests in 8 subprocesses for the given test suit.

Test Execution Environment

  • --tx defines a test execution environment
  • It can either be local and remote (e.g. via SSH)
  • Test execution environment uses xspec syntax

Forked Subprocesses

  • By installing pytest-forked plugin you can use --forked to use forked subprocesses
  • -n 8 --forked to run 8 forked subprocesses
  • Not available on Windows

37s to execute the test suit with 8 forked subprocesses.

Remote Test Execution

  • pytest-xdist also allows running tests on the remote machines
  • First let's set up ~/.ssh/config to make the actual pytest calls shorter, here's my stripped example
Host windows
  HostName ...
  User ...
  Port 22
  IdentityFile /.../.ssh/windows

Host ubuntu
  HostName ...
  User ...
  Port 22
  IdentityFile /.../.ssh/ubuntu
  • Having two remote machines with Windows and Ubuntu, and local macOS I can now construct a one call to pytest to rule them all
pytest -d \
    --tx ssh=ubuntu//python=/<remote>/.virtualenvs/advent_of_code/bin/python --rsyncdir /<local>/advent_of_code \
    --tx ssh=windows//python=C:\<remote>\.virtualenvs\qa\Scripts\python.exe --rsyncdir /<local>/advent_of_code \
    --tx popen//python=/<local>/.virtualenvs/qa/bin/python
  • This will execute your test suit on 3 platforms simultaneously
  • Bear in mind:
    • You need an OpenSSH server running on Windows
    • You can put this to Makefile, pytest.ini and so on to save you from typing this lengthy command

Possible Problems

It took me awhile to configure new "native" OpenSSH server on Windows, official docs were somewhat helpful: OpenSSH for Windows 10.


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