Guard::RSpec automatically run your specs (much like autotest)
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Guard::RSpec travis-ci

RSpec guard allows to automatically & intelligently launch specs when files are modified.

  • Compatible with RSpec 1.x & RSpec 2.x (>= 2.4 needed for the notification feature)
  • Tested against Ruby 1.8.7, 1.9.2, REE, JRuby & Rubinius.


Please be sure to have Guard installed before continue.

Install the gem:

$ gem install guard-rspec

Add it to your Gemfile (inside development group):

gem 'guard-rspec'

Add guard definition to your Guardfile by running this command:

$ guard init rspec


Please read Guard usage doc


RSpec guard can be really adapted to all kind of projects.

Standard RubyGem project

guard 'rspec' do
  watch(%r{^lib/(.+)\.rb$})     { |m| "spec/lib/#{m[1]}_spec.rb" }
  watch('spec/spec_helper.rb')  { "spec" }

Typical Rails app

guard 'rspec' do
  watch('spec/spec_helper.rb')                        { "spec" }
  watch('config/routes.rb')                           { "spec/routing" }
  watch('app/controllers/application_controller.rb')  { "spec/controllers" }
  watch(%r{^app/(.+)\.rb$})                           { |m| "spec/#{m[1]}_spec.rb" }
  watch(%r{^lib/(.+)\.rb$})                           { |m| "spec/lib/#{m[1]}_spec.rb" }
  watch(%r{^app/controllers/(.+)_(controller)\.rb$})  { |m| ["spec/routing/#{m[1]}_routing_spec.rb", "spec/#{m[2]}s/#{m[1]}_#{m[2]}_spec.rb", "spec/acceptance/#{m[1]}_spec.rb"] }

Please read Guard doc for more information about the Guardfile DSL.


By default, Guard::RSpec automatically detect your RSpec version (with the spec_helper.rb syntax or with Bundler) but you can force the version with the :version option:

guard 'rspec', :version => 2 do
  # ...

You can pass any of the standard RSpec CLI options using the :cli option:

guard 'rspec', :cli => "--color --format nested --fail-fast --drb" do
  # ...

By default, Guard::RSpec will only look for spec files within spec in your project root. You can configure Guard::RSpec to look in additional paths by using the :spec_paths option:

guard 'rspec', :spec_paths => ["spec", "vendor/engines/reset/spec"] do
  # ...

If you have only one path to look, you can configure :spec_paths option with a string:

guard 'rspec', :spec_paths => "test" do
  # ...

Former :color, :drb, :fail_fast and :formatter options are thus deprecated and have no effect anymore.

List of available options:

:version => 1                # force use RSpec version 1, default: 2
:cli => "-c -f doc"          # pass arbitrary RSpec CLI arguments, default: "-f progress"
:bundler => false            # don't use "bundle exec" to run the RSpec command, default: true
:rvm => ['1.8.7', '1.9.2']   # directly run your specs on multiple Rubies, default: nil
:notification => false       # display Growl (or Libnotify) notification after the specs are done running, default: true
:all_after_pass => false     # run all specs after changed specs pass, default: true
:all_on_start => false       # run all the specs at startup, default: true
:keep_failed => false        # keep failed specs until they pass, default: true
:run_all => { :cli => "-p" } # override any option when running all specs
:spec_paths => ["spec"]      # specify an array of paths that contain spec files


The notification feature is only available for RSpec < 2, and RSpec >= 2.4 (due to the multiple-formatters feature that was present in RSpec 1, was removed in RSpec 2 and reintroduced in RSpec 2.4). So if you are using a version between 2 and 2.4, you should disable the notification with :notification => false. Otherwise, nothing will be displayed in the terminal when your specs will run.

The best solution is still to update RSpec to the latest version!


The :formatter option has been removed since CLI arguments can be passed through the :cli option. If you want to use the former Instafail formatter, you need to use rspec-instafail gem instead:

# in your Gemfile
gem 'rspec-instafail'

# in your Guardfile
guard 'rspec', :cli => '-r rspec/instafail -f RSpec::Instafail' do
  # ...

Default formatter is the progress formatter (same as RSpec default).

Running a subset of all specs

The :all_on_start and :all_after_pass options cause all specs located in the spec directory to be run. If there are some specs you want to skip, you can tag them with RSpec metadata (such as :slow => true) and skip them with the cli --tag option (i.e. --tag ~slow).

You can also use option :spec_paths to override paths used when running all specs. You can use this feature to create multiple groups of guarded specs with distinct paths, and execute each in own process:

# in your Guardfile
group 'acceptance-tests' do
  guard 'rspec', :spec_paths => ['spec/acceptance'] do
    # ...

group 'unit-tests' do
  guard 'rspec', :spec_paths => ['spec/models', 'spec/controllers', 'spec/routing'] do
    # ...


Pull requests are very welcome! Make sure your patches are well tested. Please create a topic branch for every separate change you make.


Please run rake spec:prepare_fixtures once before launching specs.


Thibaud Guillaume-Gentil