1. Before running the tests, make sure to initialise the system with data.

    just init

    This step is a part of the “Quickstart” process.

  2. Run the tests in an interactive TTY connected to a web container.

    just api/test

Flaky tests#

Openverse treats flaky tests as a critical issue. The rationale behind this is founded on the assumption that the tests in our test suites are individually necessary for verifying the detailed correctness of our applications. Given that assumption, if a test is flaky, then it cannot be relied on to verify the correctness of the application, either because it sometimes reports that the application is not working when, in fact, it is; or, perhaps even worse, the test could report that the application is working when in fact is it not.

Therefore, if a test is identified as flaky, we follow the process below to triage the issue:

  1. Create an issue with critical priority documenting the flaky test. Link to failed CI runs or copy/paste relevant logs and output if they exist. The goal of this issue is not to document the solution, merely to document the fact of the flakiness and to prioritise someone picking the issue up much sooner to fix it. Of course, if you have additional details or ideas, proactively share those in the issue description or discussion.

  2. Open a PR that skips the flaky test with a link to the issue as a comment or in the explanatory note of the skip annotation. This PR should also be marked with critical priority.

The critical issue will be prioritised and assigned during the following week’s prioritisation or community meeting, though anyone is free to work on flaky test resolution if they are able to.

A GitHub Discussion about flaky tests is the original impetus for the development of this process. As will all Openverse processes, it should be iterated on and improved over time.

Identifying a “flaky test”#

A test is “flaky” if it passes or fails when we do not expect it to do so. The most common situation is for a test to fail when we did not expect it to fail. Be wary of false-positives when identifying flaky tests. Just because a given change does not look like it would cause a certain test to fail, double check that the test isn’t correctly failing due to the changes. Sometimes tests do not have obvious relationships to every part of the code-base that affects them, especially integration or end-to-end tests.

Identifying tests that pass when they shouldn’t is much harder but arguably an even more serious problem than false-negatives. It’s one thing for a test to annoyingly fail when it shouldn’t. It’s an entirely different thing for a test to pass and give us false-confidence that our applications are working as expected. False-negatives do not usually have a downstream effect on Openverse API or frontend consumers, for example. False-positives, on the other hand, usually mean that issues are caught only once they’re in production and affecting users.

Test skip utilities#

Openverse uses pytest, Playwright, and jest for various different types of testing. Links to each library’s test-skipping approach are below:


Jest and Playwright’s describe.skip utilities should be used lightly and only if either the entire describe block is flaky or if the tests inside the block are interdependent and skipping an individual test will cause subsequent tests to incorrectly fail.