How to Call Custom Django Commands from Tests

If you have created custom management commands for your Django project, you may want to test them directly instead of going through the command line interface. Calling commands programmatically from test code is straightforward in Django. This allows you to write automated tests for your custom commands to ensure they function as expected. In this post, I’ll explain different methods to achieve this.

Custom Django Commands-Prerequisites

First, furthermore, you need some basics – a Django project with custom commands in a management/commands folder, and test cases set up. We’ll focus on calling the commands. Moreover, understanding Django testing andCustom commands would help grasp the techniques quicker.

The Low-Level Approach

The most straightforward way is to call the call_command function. Django exposes this low-level function specifically for invoking commands during tests.

For example, if there is a custom command called count_users in management/commands/, here is how to call it:

from django.core import management

The key things to note are:

  • Import call_command from Django’s management module
  • Pass the command name as a string to call_command()

Any command line arguments can be passed too as subsequent parameters.

Therefore, this is a simple yet effective approach to directly run custom commands during testing.

The Test Case Approach

For more flexibility, Django’s test case classes like TestCase and TransactionTestCase have an inbuilt call_command method.

Consequently, by subclassing these test cases, you can call commands without extra imports:

from django.test import TestCase

class CommandTests(TestCase):
    def test_count_users(self):

Additionally, assertions can be made after calling to check if the command behaved correctly:

user_count = User.objects.count()
self.assertEqual(user_count, 10) # Assume command inserts 10 users   

So using test cases is ideal if you want to integrate command testing into existing test suites.

The Custom Test Runner Approach

Finally, for more control, a custom test runner can be used. This also facilitates setup and teardown activities around testing commands.

Therefore, create a test runner like:

from django.test.runner import DiscoverRunner

class CommandTestRunner(DiscoverRunner):
    def setup_test_environment(self):
        # Perform setup

    def teardown_test_environment(self): 
        # Clean up after testing  

    def run_tests(self, test_labels):
        # Call commands through management.call_command()

Then in specify this runner:

TEST_RUNNER = 'tests.CommandTestRunner' 

Now custom setup/teardown can enclose command execution during tests.


In summary, Django makes calling management commands from tests simple through multiple approaches. The most suitable technique depends mainly on existing test code and customization needs. Lower level methods work well for simple use cases while test case subclasses and custom runners allow tighter integration.

Therefore, directly executing a command removes indirect paths like HTTP requests or user interfaces. This helps validate that custom Django commands function correctly through all test scenarios. Given the importance of automated testing, command testing should be utilized for robust code.