Creating Tests For This Website: Pages

Posted by Ryan Himmelwright on Sun, Feb 23, 2020
Tags website, hugo, dev, python, testing
PNC Arena, Raleigh NC

As this website grows, there is an increasing amount of complexity. More posts, more images, and more links. I’ve gotten better at breaking work up into separate branches (instead of pushing everything straight to master), but even that isn’t enough to ensure everything works as expected when publishing something new. Then, I thought of something obvious… I could setup some simple testing… for my website.

What to Test

After editing a page or drafting a new post, I often wonder “how can I be sure everything will still work when I publish this change”? I question if every post file is actually being served as a web page. Or worse… I fear that a post that isn’t ready to be published might accidentally get pushed with an unrelated website fix.

(Yes, this is a completely unreasonable fear given that ALL of my website source files, drafts included, are publicly hosted on Github. Nonetheless, the fear exists)

This will be a multi-post serries, so in this first one we will focus on:

  • Configuring the test environment
  • Building up the testing framework
  • Writing some basic tests to ensure:
    • The pages I want to be served are
    • Pages and posts that are not ready, are not being served

As my website is currently compiled using hugo, the tests will be centered around that framework. However, most of the information can be applied to testing websites using other static website generators, are they are all quite similar.

Setting up the env

I will be using pytest for the testing framework, and to make all the python dependencies a bit easier to manage, I will also use pipenv. Lastly, I usually work on a Fedora computer, VM, or at the very least in a Fedora podman container. So, some of my instructions use dnf, but feel free to adjust to your package manager accordingly.

Install pipenv

First, lets install pipenv, which is easy enough in Fedora:

sudo dnf install pipenv

Install needed packages inside pipenv shell

After installing, create a pipenv shell and enter it:

pipenv shell

Install pytest and requests in the pip environment:

pip install pytest requests

Creating the Test Framework

With the environment setup, we can start building up the test framework. We will start by defining come constants, then use those when building helper functions. Lastly, we will use the helper functions to piece together the and files.

Defining Constants

First, lets define some constants we can use throughout the test framework. In the future, I might switch these to be set optionally with CLI arguments, but for now… they’re just static constant variables defined in a file.

So first, create a new file in the tests directory named In that file, lets dump our contants:

BASE_URL = "http://localhost:1313"

SITE_PAGES = ["/", "/pages/about/", "/pages/homelab/"]

POST_DIR = "./content/post/"
    <Removed middle of list because it's long>

As you can see, in my file I have 4 variables defined:

  • BASE_URL: this is the base url for the website when running hugo serve. For most, it will default to http://localhost:1313, but I have this as a constant because I usually run my hugo serve command with the -b to change it to an ip address so I can view it from other computers.
  • SITE_PAGES: This is a list of paths that come after the baseurl for pages that we well be testing. For example, I want to make sure that my “about me” page is being served, which is at baseurl/pages/about/, so /pages/about/ is one of the values in this constant.
  • POST_DIR: This is the directory for where the post files are located.
  • POST_NAMES: This is a list of the names of the post files (without the .md)

Add in your values for the variables, and remember to save the file.

Writing Some Helper Utility Functions

With those constants defined, we should be ready to write some helper functions. These are normal python functions that will be called from tests or even test fixture functions.

First, lets create The helper functions will need to use listdir, as well as the path function from the os module. They will also need the regex functions. So, lets make those imports at the top of the file:

from os import listdir, path
import re


Lets define a helper function named get_file_names:

def get_file_names(src, extension=None):
    """Collects the names of all files of a directory"""
    file_list = []
    root_path = path.expanduser(src)
    for file in listdir(root_path):
        # If extension provided, check file has that extension
        if extension:
            if file.endswith(extension):
        # Otherwise, add everything
    return file_list

When provided a file path (src), this function will return a list of all the file names in the directory. Optionally, the extension parameter can be supplied to only return files of that extension type (for exapmple, md). This function will be used to grab the names of all the post source files.

… and that’s all we need in… for now!


Now lets start digging into test-related stuff, by first creating a file. This file will mostly hold the fixtures we will use for the tests. In our particular setup, they will gather lists of pages to run multiple calls of each test against by using @pytest.fixture(params).

But first, lets import a few things at the top of

import pytest
from os import path

from constants import BASE_URL, SITE_PAGES, POST_DIR, POST_NAMES
from utils import get_file_names

The imports include the os.path() function, some of the constants we defined, and the get_file_names() helper function. Oh, And of course pytest ;) .


def page_url(request):
    """Returns the page urls for testing."""
    return BASE_URL + request.param

The first fixture, page_url, is very basic. It creates a list of all of the website pages (not posts), by combining the BASE_URL with each of the values defined in the SITE_PAGES constant. This list will later be used to paramaterize a single test across all of the page links.


def post_url(request):
    """Returns the post urls for testing."""
    return BASE_URL + "/post/" + request.param.lower()

The next fixture, post_url is basically the same as page_url, except it creates a list of all the posts using the POST_NAMES constant. Again, this will be used to expand a single test into many, one for each post.


def non_live_post_url(request):
    """Returns the url of a non-defined post file"""
    return BASE_URL + "/post/" + request.param.lower()

Lastly, we have non_live_post_url with its accompanying helper function, non_live_post_urls. This pair creates a list of posts that have a markdown file in the /post/ directory, but are not listed in the POST_NAMES constant (so in practice, not really to be published).

def non_live_post_urls():
    """Returns the urls of md files that should not be live."""
    all_post_md_names = list(
        map(lambda name: name.lower().split(".md")[0], get_file_names(POST_DIR))
    live_post_names = list(map(lambda name: name.lower(), POST_NAMES))
    non_live_post_names = set(all_post_md_names).difference(set(live_post_names))
    return list(non_live_post_names)

First, the non_live_post_urls helper function returns a list of non-listed post files. That list is then used in non_live_post_url as the pytest.fixture(params) object, much like SITE_PAGES and POST_NAMES were for the previous fixtures.

Finally… Some Tests!

Phew. Okay. With all of that defined… lets create the first test file. When pytest runs, it will try to grab tests recursively from all the files down the current directory, starting with test. This first set of tests will be checking whether a web page is being served (or not), so lets name the file Again, start with the required imports. This time we only need pytest and requests.

import pytest
import requests
Testing Pages

The first test will check that each page defined in the SITE_PAGES constant is being served. More specifically, we will use the requests module to ensure not only that the page is served, but returns a 200 status. This actually requires very little code to accomplish (Gotta love python) :

def test_page_served(page_url):
    """Checks that the website pages are available"""
    response = requests.get(page_url)
    assert response.status_code == 200

We simply define a function, test_page_served(), and because it is in, it will be assumed to be a test by pytest. We provide the page_url fixture we previously defined in as the only parameter. This will call the test_page_served test for each url in the list generated by page_url. Next, we use requests.get() to make a page request. Lastly, we assert that the status_code from our response is 200. If it is, the test passes, if not, it fails.

Testing Posts

Next, lets test that all of the posts are being served. This test works exactly the same as test_page_served, except we are using the post_url fixture instead of page_url to supply the links to test:

def test_post_served(post_url):
    """Checks that the desired posts are available"""
    response = requests.get(post_url)
    assert response.status_code == 200

(While I could combine these cases into a single test function, I decided to keep them separate for flexibility in the future)

Lets Get Fancy: Testing Unapproved Posts Are NOT Served

For the last test, lets get a little bit more complicated and ensure that post files not listed in the approved list are not being served. Well… it turns out all the “fancy” code required for this test case already occured in the non_live_post_urls helper function. The test function itself, is essentially the same as what we’ve already encountered except that we are now checking for a 404 return status instead of 200:

def test_non_defined_posts_not_served(non_live_post_url):
    """Checks that a non-defined post is NOT available"""
    response = requests.get(non_live_post_url)
    assert response.status_code == 404

That defines all of the tests for this first set! Don’t let only having three test functions fool you, they should generate over 70 test results when run! (For my website, at the time of writing this post)

Lets Run Some Tests!

Finally, we should be able to run the tests. To do so, first ensure that you are in the pipenv by running pipenv shell, or you can run the tests from outside the pipenv using pipenv run COMMAND. Next, call:

pytest -v .

The -v flag runs pytest in ‘verbose’ mode, which I like to do as it shows the results for each test run, rather than each file.

Running the pages tests. All 72 passed.

So it looks like all the tests are passing! To be sure, Lets do a quick check to make sure they work as expected… I’ll mark this post with draft = "False", but not add it to the approved lists, and the test for this page should fail…

Checking a test fails when we want it to
Checking that a test fails when we want it to.

Awesome, it failed! I guess all there is left to do is to finish up this post, so I can add it to the approved posts lists and publish it! Stay tuned!

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