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= Deprecated -- Use Dataset

Scenarios has been replaced by Dataset, a complete rewrite, test driven. It has a number of bugs fixed and more features. Check out I hope you find it far more useful and worth helping to extend.

== Rails Scenarios Plugin

Who hasn't experienced the pain of dozens of YAML files filled with hundreds
of inter-related data structures? When do you look at People of an
Organization and not have to look at the organization_id, open the
organizations.yml file, and search for 'id: X'?

In a nutshell, scenarios are a drop in replacement for YAML fixtures. Instead
of encouraging you to create a mindless amount of raw data in the form of
YAML, scenarios encourage you to create code that populates your tables with
the appropriate records.

How is it different from other solutions? A few things:

 * It continues to provide a fundamental, fast insertion method using attributes
   written directly to a table. This is the
   Scenarios::TableMethods#create_record method.

 * It allows you to create records using validations if you prefer, or if it's
   important to have all your callbacks be invoked. See
   Scenarios::TableMethods#create_model. Both create_record and create_model
   allow you to name your instances for retrieval by the instance and id reader
   methods (more below).

 * Nothing stops you from simply invoking YouModel.create!, etc. We'll still
   keep track of the tables the scenario modifies and clean things up afterward.

 * It allows you to create re-usable scenarios as classes. These classes are
   like any other class - they may include modules, subclass, and be composed of
   other scenarios. See Scenarios::Base.uses. This also means that you can load
   any scenario into any Rails environment. That's what the 'rake
   db:scenario:load' task is good for (more below). Very handy for re-using all
   that test support code to create populated demos!

=== Quick Start

Since Scenarios is a Rails plugin at this time, you should get it installed,
using the appropriate method (script/plugin, svn, piston) into your
vendor/plugins directory. Once you have this, in your spec_helper.rb or
test_helper.rb, add the following line after the spec requires:

  require 'scenarios'

The Scenarios you write should be placed in the spec/scenarios directory of your
Rails project if you're using RSpec, or the test/scenarios directory of your
Rails project if you're using Test::Unit. Scenario file names always end in
"_scenario.rb" and classes end in "Scenario".

A simple scenario looks like this:

  # in spec/scenarios/users_scenario.rb or test/scenarios/users_scenario.rb
  class UsersScenario < Scenario::Base
    def load
      create_record :user, :john, :name => 'John', :password => 'doodaht'
      create_record :user, :cindy, :name => 'Cindy', :password => 'whoot!'

In the example above, I'm using the <tt>create_record</tt> instance method to
create two users: John and Cindy. Notice the calls to <tt>create_record</tt>.
There are three parameters. The first is the singular name of the table to
insert the record into, the second is the symbolic name of the record (more on
that later), and the third is a hash of the attributes of the record.

To use the UsersScenario in a description, you should declare it using
the <tt>scenario</tt> method.  Here it is within a spec file (RSpec):

  # in spec/models/user_spec.rb
  describe User do
    scenario :users
    it "should allow me to do something with John" do
      user = users(:john)
      user.password.should == "doodaht"
and here it is within a standard Test::Unit test:

  # in test/unit/user_test.rb
  class UserTest < Test::Unit::TestCase

    scenario :users
    def test_do_something
      user = users(:john)
      assert_equal "doodaht", user.password

Notice that it is easy to load an instance of a model object using its
symbolic name with a reader method, similar to that of Rails' fixtures. In the
example above, I loaded John with the reader method <tt>users</tt> and the
symbolic name <tt>:john</tt>. (Remember that in the Users scenario I declared
that John should be accessible through the symbolic name <tt>:john</tt>.)

I could also have retrieved an array of user fixtures by passing in
multiple symbolic names to the reader method:

  # in spec/models/user_spec.rb
  describe User do
    scenario :users
    it "should allow me to get all admins" do
      admins = users(:john, :ryan)
      User.admins.should eql(admins)

=== Composition

In real life your scenarios will probably grow quite complicated. The
scenarios plugin allows you to deal with this complexity through composition.

Here's a simple example:

  # in spec/scenarios/posts_scenario.rb or test/scenarios/posts_scenario.rb
  class PostsScenario < Scenario::Base
    def load
      create_record :post, :first, :title => "First Post"
      create_record :post, :second, :title => "Second Post"
  # in spec/scenarios/comments_scenario.rb or test/scenarios/comments_scenario.rb
  class CommentsScenario < Scenario::Base
    uses :posts
    def load
      create_record :comment, :first, :body => "Nice post!", :post_id => post_id(:first)
      create_record :comment, :second, :body => "I like it.", :post_id => post_id(:first)
      create_record :comment, :third, :body => "I thoroughly disagree.", :post_id => post_id(:second)

In the example above, the CommentsScenario declares that it depends on the
Posts scenario with the <tt>uses</tt> class method. This means that if you
load the CommentsScenario, the PostsScenario will be loaded first and the
CommentsScenario will have access to all the data loaded by the PostsScenario
in its own <tt>load</tt> method. Note that inside the load method I'm using
another form of reader methed which simply gives you the id for a symbolic
name (in this case: <tt>post_id</tt>). This is most useful for making
associations, as done here with comments and posts.

=== Helper Methods

Another way of simplifying your scenarios and specs/tests is through helper
methods. The Scenarios plugin provides a handy way to declare helper methods
that are accessible from inside the scenario and also from inside related
RSpec/Test::Unit examples:

  # in spec/scenarios/users_scenario.rb or test/scenarios/users_scenario.rb
  class UsersScenario < Scenario::Base
    def load
      create_user :name => "John"

    helpers do
      def create_user(attributes={})
        create_record :user, attributes[:name].downcase.intern, attributes
      def login_as(user)
        @request.session[:user_id] =

Helper methods declared inside the helpers block are mixed into the scenario
when it is instantiated and mixed into examples that declare that they are using
the scenario. Also, in the case where one scenario <tt>uses</tt> another, the
using scenario will have the helper methods of the used scenario.

  # in spec/controllers/projects_controller_spec.rb
  describe "Projects screen" do
    scenario :users
    it "should show active projects" do
      get :projects
      @response.should have_tag('#active_projects')

  # in test/functional/projects_controller_test.rb
  class PeopleControllerTest < Test::Unit::TestCase
    scenario :users
    def test_index
      get :projects

Notice that within my specs/tests I have access to the login_as helper method
declared inside the <tt>helpers</tt> block of the UsersScenario. Scenario
helpers are a great way to share helper methods between specs/tests that use a
specific scenario.

=== Built-in Scenario

There is a scenario named 'blank' that comes with the plugin. This scenario is
useful when you want to express, and guarantee, that the database is empty. It
works by using your db/schema.rb, so if the table isn't created in there, it
won't be cleaned up.

Scenario.load_paths is an array of the locations to look for scenario
definitions. The built-in scenarios directory is consulted last, so if you'd
like to re-define, for instance, the 'blank' scenario, simply create
'blank_scenario.rb' in your spec/scenarios or test/scenarios directory.

=== Load Rake Task

The Scenarios plugin provides a single Rake task, <tt>db:scenario:load</tt>,
which you may use in a fashion similar to Rails fixtures'

  rake db:scenario:load SCENARIO=comments

When invoked, this task will populate the development database with the named

If you do not specify SCENARIO, the task will expect to find a default scenario
(a file 'default_scenario.rb' having DefaultScenario defined in it). It is our
practice to have it such that this scenario <tt>uses</tt> a number of our other
scenarios, thereby:

* encouraging us to use test data that looks good in the running development

* allowing us to troubleshoot failing tests in the running development

=== More Information

For more information, be sure to look through the documentation over at RubyForge:


You might also enjoy taking a look at the specs for the plugin and the example


Browse the complete source code:


=== Running Tests

You should be able to simply run rake. Notice in testing/environment.rb the
revisions under which this project will work. If you intend to test against
HEAD, you will need to delete the directory testing/tmp/trunk/HEAD. At some
point, it would be nice to have the script track the revision of HEAD that we
have, and update the directory automatically.

=== License

The Scenarios plugin is released under the MIT-License and is Copyright (c)
2007, Adam Williams and John W. Long. Special thanks to Chris Redinger for his
part in helping us get this plugin ready for the public.
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