Gradescope MySQL Autograder Example

View project source on Github - - sample solution

Project Description

This project shows an example of how one might set up a database project on Gradescope. It installs and initializes a MySQL database within its setup script, and then uses Python to query the database.

The actual Python connection and querying code is not intended to be an example of how best to write such code, or how to test database queries. It is up to you to determine how to test code that communicates with the database. The main purpose of this example is to show how to install, initialize, and start a service such as MySQL.

Dependencies (for tests)

  • Python 2.7+/3+
  • gradescope-utils provides decorators for setting point values for tests, and running tests with a JSON output. See the Github repository for more on what you can do with it, or you can look at the example tests in this project for some usage examples.
  • mysql-connector-python provides a way to connect to MySQL from Python.

Preventing Mutations to Test Data

As mentioned above, this project is not necessarily intended to demonstrate best practices for testing database code. In particular, this project does not show how one might prevent mutations from one test from showing up in another test. You will probably want to implement this for any serious testing that could involve mutations of the test database. For example, if one test updates or deletes data in the database, the changes should be rolled back before another test runs. Otherwise, the validity of the tests will depend on the order in which the tests are run, which is problematic.


This script installs MySQL, Python, and the pip package manager. Then it uses pip to install our Python dependencies. It also initializes the database state (relevant part below).

service mysql start
mysql < /autograder/source/database.sql

Note that while the service is started in, this is only so that we can initialize the database state. Because of the way Docker works, when the autograder runs, we will still need to start the mysql service manually.


This is an SQL file which initializes the database state. This is not intended as a perfect example of SQL, but it simply demonstrates a way to set up a database that students will access.


This script copies the student's submission to the target directory, and then executes the test runner Python script. It also starts the MySQL server, which must be done when the autograder starts, because Docker containers do not start services automatically.

This python script loads and runs the tests using the JSONTestRunner class from gradescope-utils. This produces the JSON formatted output to stdout, which is then captured and uploaded by the autograder harness.


This is a blank template file for the students to fill in. It provides function signatures for methods that will query the database and return some desired value.


This is a filled-in version of the above template file.

Example Test

class TestSimpleQueries(unittest.TestCase):
    def setUp(self):
        self.connection = mysql.connector.connect(user='test', password='password', database='test_data')
        self.cursor = self.connection.cursor()
        self.queries = Queries(self.cursor)

    def tearDown(self):

    def test_department_budget(self):
        """Get department budget by name"""
        val = self.queries.department_budget("Engineering")
        self.assertEqual(val, 1000000)

The title of the test case is taken from the first line of the docstring. This is a unittest convention. The weight for each test is given by the @weight decorator.

In this simple example, the student is filling in methods that perform a database query given an argument, and the result is checked against an expected value.

See all tests here