Testing Unmanaged Models - Using the SchemaEditor to create db tables

Skip to first unread message

Emmanuel Katchy

Jan 28, 2024, 7:23:59 PMJan 28
to Django developers (Contributions to Django itself)
Hi everyone!

I'd like to get your thoughts on something.

Unmanaged models mean that Django no longer handles creating and managing schema at the database level (hence the name).
When running tests, this means these tables aren't created, and we can't run queries against that model. The general solution I found is to monkey-patch the TestSuiteRunner to temporarily treat models as managed.

Doing a bit of research I however came up with a solution using SchemaEditor, to create the model tables directly, viz:

A cleaner approach to temporarily creating unmanaged model db tables for tests

from unittest import TestCase

from django.db import connections, models

class create_unmanaged_model_tables:
    Create db tables for unmanaged models for tests
    Adapted from: https://stackoverflow.com/a/49800437
        with create_unmanaged_model_tables(UnmanagedModel):
        @create_unmanaged_model_tables(UnmanagedModel, FooModel)
        def test_generate_data():
        @create_unmanaged_model_tables(UnmanagedModel, FooModel)
        def MyTestCase(unittest.TestCase):

    def __init__(self, unmanaged_models: list[ModelBase], db_alias: str = "default"):
        :param str db_alias: Name of the database to connect to, defaults to "default"
        self.unmanaged_models = unmanaged_models
        self.db_alias = db_alias
        self.connection = connections[db_alias]

    def __call__(self, obj):
        if issubclass(obj, TestCase):
            return self.decorate_class(obj)
        return self.decorate_callable(obj)

    def __enter__(self):

    def __exit__(self, exc_type, exc_value, traceback):

    def start(self):
        with self.connection.schema_editor() as schema_editor:
            for model in self.unmanaged_models:

                if (
                    not in self.connection.introspection.table_names()
                    raise ValueError(
                        "Table `{table_name}` is missing in test database.".format(

    def stop(self):
        with self.connection.schema_editor() as schema_editor:
            for model in self.unmanaged_models:

    def copy(self):
        return self.__class__(
            unmanaged_models=self.unmanaged_models, db_alias=self.db_alias

    def decorate_class(self, klass):
        # Modify setUpClass and tearDownClass
        orig_setUpClass = klass.setUpClass
        orig_tearDownClass = klass.tearDownClass

        def setUpClass(cls):
            if orig_setUpClass is not None:

        def tearDownClass(cls):
            if orig_tearDownClass is not None:

        klass.setUpClass = setUpClass
        klass.tearDownClass = tearDownClass

        return klass

    def decorate_callable(self, callable_obj):
        def wrapper(*args, **kwargs):
            with self.copy():
                return callable_obj(*args, **kwargs)

        return wrapper

Would this make a good addition to django.test.utils?

P.S: First time posting here :P

Adam Johnson

Feb 9, 2024, 5:23:36 PMFeb 9
to Emmanuel Katchy, django-d...@googlegroups.com
Hi Emmanuel

Most activity from this mailing list has moved to Django Internals category on the forum: https://forum.djangoproject.com/c/internals/5 . Better to post there in future, or you could even duplicate this post.

I think your approach is worth sharing in a blog post, or even a package, rather than adding to Django itself.  Your code is worth sharing but may be too specific for the framework.

Unmanaged models aren’t particularly popular. When they are used, it can be for many reasons. As a result, projects may create the tables in various ways during tests, such as loading an existing database dump or calling an external tool. So using Django’s migrations to create them (through managed=True or SchemaEditor) is just one option among many.

By the way, you may be able to simplify your implementation with the new context methods in unittest from Python 3.11: https://adamj.eu/tech/2022/11/14/unittest-context-methods-python-3-11-backports/ .

Thank you for sharing, and welcome to the Django community!
You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Django developers (Contributions to Django itself)" group.
To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to django-develop...@googlegroups.com.

Emmanuel Katchy

Feb 12, 2024, 3:46:21 PMFeb 12
to Django developers (Contributions to Django itself)
Hi Adam,

Thanks for your response!

I understand your point about unmanaged models being a niche use case of Django. I've decided to proceed with creating a package and see how it goes.

The new enterContext() and other methods in unittest seem interesting. I'll definitely be using them more from now on.


Reply all
Reply to author
0 new messages