Debugging a test

When making a test it’s not always going to work first time, and at the time of writing the error reporting is a bit messy because it shows the whole stack trace from pytest is printed out (which can be a few hundred lines, most of which is useless). Figuring out if it’s an error in the test, an error in the API response, or even a bug in Tavern can be a bit tricky.

Setting up logging

Tavern has extensive debug logging to help figure out what is going on in tests. When running your tests, it helps a lot to set up logging so that you can check the logs in case something goes wrong. The easiest way to do this is with dictConfig from the Python logging library. It can also be useful to use colorlog to colourize the output so it’s easier to see the different log levels. An example logging configuration (note that this requires the colorlog package to be installed):

# log_spec.yaml
version: 1
        # colorlog is really useful
        (): colorlog.ColoredFormatter
        format: "%(asctime)s [%(bold)s%(log_color)s%(levelname)s%(reset)s]: (%(bold)s%(name)s:%(lineno)d%(reset)s) %(message)s"
        style: "%"
        datefmt: "%X"
            DEBUG:    cyan
            INFO:     green
            WARNING:  yellow
            ERROR:    red
            CRITICAL: red,bg_white

        class: colorlog.StreamHandler
        formatter: default

            - stderr
        level: DEBUG

Which is used like this:

from logging import config
import yaml

with open("log_spec.yaml", "r") as log_spec_file:

Making sure this code is called before running your tests (for example, by putting into will show the tavern logs if a test fails.

By default, recent versions of pytest will print out log messages in the “Captured stderr call” section of the output - if you have set up your own logging, you probably want to disable this by also passing -p no:logging to the invocation of pytest.

WARNING: Tavern will try not to log any response data or request data at the INFO level or above (unless it is in an error trace). Logging at the DEBUG level will log things like response headers, return values from any external functions etc. If this contains sensitive data, either log at the INFO level, or make sure that any data logged is obfuscated, or the logs are not public.

Setting pytest options

Some pytest options can be used to make the test output easier to read.

  • Using the -vv option will show a separate line for each test and whether it has passed or failed as well as showing more information about mismatches in data returned vs data expected
  • Using --tb=short will reduce the amount of data presented in the traceback when a test fails. If logging it set up as above, any important information will be present in the logs.
  • If you just want to run one test you can use the -k flag to make pytest only run that test.


Say we are running against the advanced example from Tavern but we have an error in the yaml:

  # Log in ...

  - name: post a number
      url: "{host}/numbers"
        name: smallnumber
        number: 123
      method: POST
        content-type: application/json
        Authorization: "bearer {test_login_token:s}"
      status_code: 201
        content-type: application/json
      # This key will not actually be present in the response
        a_key: missing

Having full debug output can be a bit too much information, so we set up logging as above but at the INFO level rather than DEBUG.

We run this by doing py.test --tb=short -p no:logging and get the following output:

../../../.virtualenvs/tavern/lib/python3.5/site-packages/_pytest/ in __init__
    self.result = func()
../../../.virtualenvs/tavern/lib/python3.5/site-packages/_pytest/ in <lambda>
    return CallInfo(lambda: ihook(item=item, **kwds), when=when)
../../../.virtualenvs/tavern/lib/python3.5/site-packages/pluggy/ in __call__
    return self._hookexec(self, self._nonwrappers + self._wrappers, kwargs)
../../../.virtualenvs/tavern/lib/python3.5/site-packages/pluggy/ in _hookexec
    return self._inner_hookexec(hook, methods, kwargs)
../../../.virtualenvs/tavern/lib/python3.5/site-packages/pluggy/ in <lambda>
../../../.virtualenvs/tavern/lib/python3.5/site-packages/pluggy/ in _multicall
    return outcome.get_result()
../../../.virtualenvs/tavern/lib/python3.5/site-packages/pluggy/ in get_result
    raise ex[1].with_traceback(ex[2])
../../../.virtualenvs/tavern/lib/python3.5/site-packages/pluggy/ in _multicall
    res = hook_impl.function(*args)
../../../.virtualenvs/tavern/lib/python3.5/site-packages/_pytest/ in pytest_runtest_call
tavern/testutils/ in runtest
    run_test(self.path, self.spec, global_cfg)
tavern/ in run_test
    saved = v.verify(response)
tavern/response/ in verify
    raise TestFailError("Test '{:s}' failed:\n{:s}".format(, self._str_errors()))
E   tavern.util.exceptions.TestFailError: Test 'login' failed:
E   - Key not present: a_key
---------------------------- Captured stderr call -----------------------------
16:30:46 [INFO]: (tavern.core:70) Running test : Check trying to get a number that we didnt post before returns a 404
16:30:46 [INFO]: (tavern.core:99) Running stage : reset database for test
16:30:46 [INFO]: ( Response: '<Response [204]>' ()
16:30:46 [INFO]: (tavern.printer:10) PASSED: reset database for test
16:30:46 [INFO]: (tavern.core:99) Running stage : login
16:30:46 [INFO]: ( Response: '<Response [200]>' ({"token":"eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJleHAiOjE1MjYwNTYyNDYsImF1ZCI6InRlc3RzZXJ2ZXIiLCJzdWIiOiJ0ZXN0LXVzZXIifQ.p7pwb_u_iNiYfqjTQS4Cj3mH4XDTeAoMjKn-Nn8u0lk"}
16:30:46 [ERROR]: (tavern.response.base:33) Key not present: a_key
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/home/michael/code/tavern/tavern/tavern/response/", line 87, in recurse_check_key_match
    actual_val = recurse_access_key(block, list(split_key))
  File "/home/michael/code/tavern/tavern/tavern/util/", line 77, in recurse_access_key
    return recurse_access_key(current_val[current_key], keys)
KeyError: 'a_key'
16:30:46 [ERROR]: (tavern.printer:21) FAILED: login [200]
16:30:46 [ERROR]: (tavern.printer:22) Expected: {'requests': {'save': {'$ext': {'extra_kwargs': {'jwt_key': 'token', 'key': 'CGQgaG7GYvTcpaQZqosLy4', 'options': {'verify_aud': True, 'verify_signature': True, 'verify_exp': True}, 'audience': 'testserver'}, 'function': 'tavern.testutils.helpers:validate_jwt'}, 'body': {'test_login_token': 'token'}}, 'status_code': 200, 'headers': {'content-type': 'application/json'}, 'body': {'a_key': 'missing', 'token': <tavern.util.loader.AnythingSentinel object at 0x7fce0b395c50>}}}

When tavern tries to access a_key in the response it gets a KeyError (shown in the logs), and the TestFailError in the stack trace gives a more human-readable explanation as to why the test failed.