Mock reading a File line-by-line with Python

Sami Islam
2 min readAug 20, 2022

Easily test python code that reads a .csv file using unittest.mock.mock_open

unDraw by Katerina Limpitsouni

For one of my recent Python projects, I had to read a .csv file containing test data-set line-by-line and map them to one of 4 regression models. My solution was to create a generator method that returned every line read from the file.

Before returning the data I packed it into a rudimentary DataRecord object that indicated whether the record returned was a header or data line together with the data read from the file.

The code above shows how the given source file is read line-by-line and processed. Each line is then returned in the form of a DataRecord. The line that does not constitute a header is expected to consist of only floating point numbers in my example. The DataRecord is as follows:

The built-in python function open is used to open the file to read followed by reading each line. When I started to write unit tests to test the file reading and parsing functionality I struggled a little bit to figure out how to mock the build-in python function open and inject test data into it in order not to depend on the existence of a physical file for my tests.

I found what I was looking for in the following python documentation:

The unit test code is as follows:

To make it easier for me to assert the lines of data read I used a list of data lines containing the header line as the first item followed by data lines. The tricky part was to figure out what to set the read_data parameter of mock_open to. It must be set to newline delimited strings which are then read by the actual built-in python function open line-by-line.

After that my test code worked as expected and I was able to assert that a DataRecord of type header was indeed the header line and a DataRecord which was not of type header was a line containing actual data.

I hope this helps others to quickly and easily test their file reading functionality in their unit tests.

All code used in this article can be found in my GitHub repository.

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