Automated testing with Waffle

Feature flags present a new challenge for writing tests. The test database may not have Flags, Switches, or Samples defined, or they may be non-deterministic.

My philosophy, and one I encourage you to adopt, is that tests should cover both code paths, with any feature flags on and off. To do this, you’ll need to make the code behave deterministically.

Here, I’ll cover some tips and best practices for testing your app while using feature flags. I’ll talk specifically about Flags but this can equally apply to Switches or Samples.

Unit tests

Waffle provides three context managers (that can also be used as decorators) in waffle.testutils that make testing easier.

  • override_flag
  • override_sample
  • override_switch

All three are used the same way:

with override_flag('flag_name', active=True):
    # Only 'flag_name' is affected, other flags behave normally.
    assert waffle.flag_is_active(request, 'flag_name')


@override_sample('sample_name', active=True)
def test_with_sample():
    # Only 'sample_name' is affected, and will always be True. Other
    # samples behave normally.
    assert waffle.sample_is_active('sample_name')

All three will restore the relevant flag, sample, or switch to its previous state: they will restore the old values and will delete objects that did not exist.

External test suites

Tests that run in a separate process, such as Selenium tests, may not have access to the test database or the ability to mock Waffle values.

For tests that make HTTP requests to the system-under-test (e.g. with Selenium or PhantomJS) the WAFFLE_OVERRIDE setting makes it possible to control the value of any Flag via the querystring.

For example, for a flag named foo, we can ensure that it is “on” for a request:

GET /testpage?foo=1 HTTP/1.1

or that it is “off”:

GET /testpage?foo=0 HTTP/1.1