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Super simple BDD with Buildout

I’ve been doing BDD for years. I’ve never used Lettuce, or behave, or Cucumber, or in fact any BDD framework. I’ve never really needed to, as I can achieve a similar result with the tools I’m already using: Python and Buildout.

To get started, we add the following additions to our Buildout config:

parts =


recipe =
eggs =
working-directory =
defaults =
    --where specs
    --include ^(it|ensure|must|should|specs?|examples?)
    --include (specs?(.py)?|examples?(.py)?)$

As you can see we’re using nose to aggregate and run our tests, but we’re tweaking the way it works and specifying that it should look in a “specs” directory.

The “BDD” magic is in the 2 --include lines. Here we tell nose to include files and classes that end with either Spec(s) or Example(s), and tests that start with the BDD keywords: it, ensure, must, and should.

However, the real star of the show is Pinocchio. By specifying --with-spec and --spec-color we get nicely laid-out, colourised test results.

Here’s an example of the sort of spec file we’d create in our project, ./specs/

import unittest
from foo import foo

class FooSpec(unittest.TestCase):
    def it_should_return_true_for_true_values(self):
        raise SkipTest('Not implemented')

    def it_should_return_false_for_false_values(self):

    def it_should_return_true_for_None_values(self):

The nice thing about this is that we’re writing simple unittest classes & methods. We can skip writing the plain-English “feature” files and go straight to writing Python. We’re also not using any quirky decorators to tie things together, instead we’re following a simple naming convention.

We can also embellish our output with the use of docstrings on the classes and methods – these will be used in place of the class/function name to give us more control over what we see in the results.

Additionally, there’s nothing that could get in the way when using standard nose plugins. So we can add plugins for coverage.

Originally posted: Mar 23 2014