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A DRb server for testing frameworks (RSpec / Cucumber currently) that forks before each run to ensure a clean testing state.
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Spork is Tim Harper's implementation of a Drb spec server (similar to the script/spec_server provided by rspec-rails), except rather than using the Rails constant unloading to reload your files, it forks a copy of the server each time you run your specs. The result? Spork runs more solid: it doesn't get corrupted over time, and it properly handles modules and any voo-doo meta programming you may have put in your app.

Because Spork uses Kernel.fork, it only works on POSIX systems. This means Windows users are not invited to this party. Sorry :(


[sudo] gem install timcharper-spork --source


git clone git://
cd spork
gem build spork.gemspec
sudo gem install spork.gemspec


From a terminal, change to your project directory.

Then, bootstrap your spec/spec_helper.rb file.

spork --bootstrap

Next, edit spec/spec_helper.rb and follow the instructions that were put at the top.

Finally, run spork. A spec DRb server will be running!


Diagnostic mode

Initially, you may find that a few files don't reload automatically. This is because they are being loaded during Spork startup. To identify which project files are being pre-loaded, and why, run:

spork --diagnose
(or spork -d, for short)

It will output a lot of stuff. At the top you'll find a summary of all project files loaded. Down below, the stack trace for each file (how it got loaded). Spork hooks into Rails and does some magic (TM) to prevent ApplicationController observers, etc from pre-loading. Similar hooks for other ruby frameworks may come as support demands.

Running specs over Spork


To get the TextMate RSpec bundle to use spork, go to config->advanced->shell variables, and add:


To run from the command line, use:

spec --drb spec/lib/my_spec.rb

Or, you could add the following flag to your spec.opts file.



Cucumber –drb support for spork is not official yet (but it works). It's the hottest sauce boiling on the world wide web right now. If you can't wait to try it, head on over to Cucumber core-team member Ben Mabey's drb branch and build your own cucumber gem:

Use this as a guideline when “Sporking” your features/support/env.rb file

Some potential issues and ways to overcome them:

Database connections don't work inside of Spork

If you're using ActiveRecord and Rails, Spork will automatically reconnect to the database. However, if you're not using ActiveRecord, or if you're doing some tricky stuff with connections, you'll have to make sure your connections get re-established on each run. In your spec/spec_helper.rb file:

Spork.each_run do
  # Do your connection re-establishing here

Couldn't find formatter class Spec::Runner::Formatter::TextMateFormatter

Make sure the --require option is specified *before* --format

On one of our projects, many of us using TextMate with spork, only one developer got this error message while the rest of us ran just fine. I don't know exactly why it happened, but requiring the textmate formatter in the prefork block made it go away, like this:

Spork.prefork do
  gem "rspec", "= 1.2.6"
  require 'spec'
  require 'spec/runner/formatter/text_mate_formatter'

Kudos to

  • Ben Mabey - help with documentation, testing, suggestions, patches, and bringing Cucumber support.

  • David Chelimsky - for the fine RSpec testing framework, and the original rspec-rails spec_server implementation, which Spork has built upon.

  • Lead Media Partners - just for being an awesome place to work.

Spork © 2009 Tim Harper, released under the MIT license

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