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One of the things that happened at PyCon 2012 was the Python language summit.

There's an excellent writeup of the events here:

One of the conclusions from the language summit was PEP 417, the inclusion of the "mock" library in the Python standard library as "unittest.mock".
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Interesting... do mocks add any value to Python? My experience is that mock-based tests (as opposed to "fake"-based test, which use an ad-hoc class/object ginned up for the purpose) are so much more brittle that the up-front time saved is a net loss, even in Java, where creating fakes is much more costly.

I view mocks as technical debt to be cleaned up.
Definitions are important. What you describe as a fake is what I've always understood to be a mock: a test-component standing in for a required collaborator whose purpose is to verify interactions.
Yes, they are important. Both mocks and fakes (apologies for the terminology; I don't know if there are widely-used terms that distinguish) stand in for real collaborators, but mocking frameworks can't really provide arbitrary functionality and so lead the developer to write unit tests that do what the mocks can do: simply verify methods called, produce specific returns, etc. This tends to lead to unit test code that verifies the wrong things and is very brittle. Fakes, or ad-hoc mocks, encourage the developer to check what needs to be checked and behave in the minimal necessary ways.

In Java, creating fakes is often hard and sometimes impossible. In Python, it's always possible and usually easy. I hope unittest.mock doesn't lead developers to feel that it is the right way to mock out their collaborators, rather than using more flexible and precisely-tailored ad-hoc mocks (which I call fakes).
I'm not sure what arbitrary functionality you feel is necessary when performing this kind of testing. When I call method M on object O with arguments A, I expect it to call method N on interface I with arguments B. I specify that to the framework and I'm done. Any difficulty encountered in developing a test has always been an indication that I need to refactor.
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