Using Pandokia To Run Tests


This describes how to use the Pandokia Meta-Runner to execute your tests.

The Meta-Runner identifies tests, sets up an appropriate execution environment, and invokes a Test-Runner to actually performs the tests. If parallelism is appropriate for your tests, you can direct it to run multiple tests concurrently.

The Meta-Runner has provisions for enabling/disabling tests and for setting environment variables before the test is executed.

A Test-Runner is a Pandokia component that implements a standard interface between the Meta-Runner and some specific test execution software. There are several test runners available. For example, the “pytest” Test-Runner uses py.test 2.2.1 (along with a plugin) to run tests.

See adding_runners.rst for documentation on implementing your own Test-Runner for whatever testing systems you have.

Simple Overview

Typical usage is to create a directory tree that contains all the tests. Every test has a unique name, and the path from the top of the directory tree to the file containing the test will be part of the name.

There are three ways to run tests with the Pandokia Meta-Runner:

  • You can recursively run all the tests discovered in a directory tree

    pdk run -r directory
    pdk run --recursive directory
  • If you want to run all the tests in a specific directory, you can give a list of specific directory names

    pdk run /where/your/tests/are
  • You can give the name(s) of specific files that contain your tests

    pdk run xyz*.py

All of these cases create or append to a Pandokia log file, which contains the results from all the tests.

There is also a command “pdkrun” that you can use in place of “pdk run”. It exists principally so that I can type:


to repeat the last pdkrun command.

pdk run –recursive directory

When you give --recursive, pandokia recursively descends into the directory tree that you specify. In each directory, pandokia finds and runs tests by executing the command “pdk run directory”. If no tests are found in a directory, zero test results are reported from that directory.

The configuration variable exclude_dirs contains a list of directory names to skip. (see pandokia/

You can specifiy multiple processes with the option --parallel N or the environment variable PDK_PARALLEL. It will execute tests in that many directories concurrently. It will not execute multiple concurrent processes in a single directory because we have found that the tests often interfere with each other. (This may be a characteristic of our test environment, which depends heavily on input and output files.)

pdk run directory

When you give the name of a directory, it compares the name of each regular file (not directories or device files) in that directory with a set of glob patterns that identify tests.

The file is disabled if the same base file name exists with the extension ”.disable” or ”.$PDK_CONTEXT.disable”.

For example, if your test is, it will be disabled if

  • there is a file test_xyz.disable
  • there is a file and the currently running context is “foo”
  • there is a file test_xyz.default.disable and the currently running context is “default”

If the Test-Runner knows how to report disabled tests, report will contains status=D (for disabled) for each test in that file.

Some Test-Runners do not know how to report the names of disabled tests. The nose and py.test Test-Runners included in the Pandokia distribution do.

If the file name looks like a test and it is not disabled, the test is executed by the same code that implements pdk run *filename*.

pdk run filename

When you explicitly give the name of a specific file, pdk run executes the tests in that file. It runs the tests even if the .disable file exists.

pdk run arguments and environment variables

pdk run can take parameters as environment variables and as command line arguments. Arguments always override the value in an environment variable.

Except as noted, all of the options can be used with any of the variations of pdk run.



The series of test results will be written into this file, for subsequent import into the database. Default value is “PDK_DEFAULT.LOG.”+test_run

–parallel or PDK_PARALLEL

Run up to this number of tests concurrently (but it will run at most one test at a time in any given directory). Only used with the -r (recursive) flag. Default value is 1.


Use this as the project name. Default value is “default”.

–test_run or PDK_TEST_RUN

Use this as the name of the test run. Default value is a generated string including the user name and the time to the nearest minute.


This environment variable sets the max number of seconds that a test runner can run. If set, individual test processes will be killed when they exceed this age.

This timeout applies to all the tests in a single file, not the individual tests. If you need timeouts for specific tests, you must use a test runner that implements per-test timeouts (such as py.test with the Pandokia plugin) or implement a timeout feature in your test code (possibly using a library such as fixtures).

Our normal use is to set PDK_TIMEOUT in a pdk_environment file. We have different timeouts in different directories.

All other environment variables with names beginning PDK_ are reserved for internal use by pandokia.

Monitoring the running tests

pdkrun can run multiple processes concurrently. To see a report of what is currently running, you can enter this command in the directory where you started the tests

pdk runstatus

This clears the screen and shows three columns of information

- the process "slot"
- date/time of last update to that process slot
- file name of tests executing in that process slot

The information is recorded in a file named pdk_statusfile.

If you set PDK_STATUSFILE to ‘none’, pdkrun will not record the status and the runstatus command will not work. (Later, this will be a way to say the name of the file to use.)

not implemented on Windows

Creating a Test Tree

Pandokia will preserve the hierarchy of your test tree as part of the test name. You can populate the directory tree with files containing tests in any organization that makes sense for your project.

The test running concurrency operates at directory granularity; so do the environment and contact files. You may wish to take this into account when creating the tree.

Place an empty file named pandokia_top at the top of the directory tree.

Overhead files

This is an empty file marking the top of the directory tree.

This is an INI-style file that may be used to customize the environment for the tests in this directory. It should contain named sections. The [default] section will apply to all tests; additional sections based on operating system ([os=foo] or [osver=foo]), machine architecture ([cpu=foo]), or hostname ([hostname=foo]) may also be included, and are applied hierarchically in that order.

Specifications of OS, version, or architecture are expected to be site-specific. We implemented a mapping that makes sense in our system; you may wish to examine and/or customize the file.

The resulting environment will be merged with os.environ prior to running tests; in particular, any PATH environment variable is handled specially, and appended to (rather than overriding) existing values at a higher level.

This file may be used to specify the username or email address of individuals (one per line) who should be notified about anomalous results for tests contained in this directory. The run command does not read this file; see database.rst, “Importing Contacts” for more detail.

Writing a nose test

TODO: move this into the runners_nose section

TODO: refer to a directory of sample tests

Pandokia will support any type of test that nose supports: unittests, doctests, and arbitrary test functions that raise assertion errors if they fail.

unittest/testcase style

# This example shows how to add attributes to a unittest-style test.:

class BasicTest(unittest.TestCase):
    def setUp(self):

    def test1(self):

        # If the assertion fails, the test fails.

Any old function

Test functions can be written as follows:

#TDAs and TRAs are supported via global variables. The
#plugin takes care of clearing them so there is no crosstalk
#between tests.

tda = dict()
tra = dict()

def testxyz() :
     # If the assertion fails, the test fails
     assert True

def testabc():
     assert sum == 6

def testglobal():
     global tda
     tda = {'cat':'lion'}
     #The global statement is necessary in order to avoid rebinding
     #rebinds the name to a local variable, which will not be seen
     #by Pandokia
     assert True


#TDAs and TRAs are not supported in doctests. “”” >>> print 1+1 2

>>> print 7-3