A set of RSpec matchers for testing Pundit authorisation policies.
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README.md

Pundit Matchers

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A set of RSpec matchers for testing Pundit authorisation policies. The matcher syntax was inspired by this excellent blog post from Thunderbolt Labs.

Installation

Include pundit-matchers in your Rails application's Gemfile, inside the test group:

group :test do
  gem 'pundit-matchers', '~> 1.6.0'
end

And then execute the following command:

bundle

Pundit Matchers requires that both the rspec-rails and pundit gems are also installed.

Setup

Add the following to the top of your Rails application's spec/spec_helper.rb file:

require 'pundit/matchers'

Configuration

Pundit Matchers relies on your policies having a user attribute. If your app checks against a differently named "user" model (such as account) you will need to set a user alias. To add a user alias, add the following configuration to your app's spec/spec_helper.rb or spec/rails_helper.rb file:

Pundit::Matchers.configure do |config|
  config.user_alias = :account
end

The user alias is configured for the whole app and cannot be customised on a policy by policy basis.

Matchers

The following RSpec matchers can now be used in your the Pundit policy spec files (by convention, saved in the spec/policies directory).

Permit Matchers

  • permit_action(:action_name) Tests that an action, passed in as a parameter, is permitted by the policy.
  • permit_action(:action_name, *arguments) Tests that an action and any optional arguments, passed in as parameters, are permitted by the policy.
  • permit_actions(%i[action1 action2]) Tests that an array of actions, passed in as a parameter, are permitted by the policy.
  • permit_new_and_create_actions Tests that both the new and create actions are permitted by the policy.
  • permit_edit_and_update_actions Tests that both the edit and update actions are permitted by the policy.
  • permit_mass_assignment_of(:attribute_name) or permit_mass_assignment_of(%i[attribute1 attribute2]) Tests that mass assignment of the attribute(s), passed in as a single symbol parameter or an array of symbols, are permitted by the policy.

Forbid Matchers

  • forbid_action(:action_name) Tests that an action, passed in as a parameter, is not permitted by the policy.
  • forbid_action(:action_name, *arguments) Tests that an action and any optional arguments, passed in as parameters, are not permitted by the policy.
  • forbid_actions(%i[action1 action2]) Tests that an array of actions, passed in as a parameter, are not permitted by the policy.
  • forbid_new_and_create_actions Tests that both the new and create actions are not permitted by the policy.
  • forbid_edit_and_update_actions Tests that both the edit and update actions are not permitted by the policy.
  • forbid_mass_assignment_of(:attribute_name) or forbid_mass_assignment_of(%i[attribute1 attribute2]) Tests that mass assignment of the attribute(s), passed in as a single symbol parameter or an array of symbols, are not permitted by the policy.

A Basic Example of a Policy Spec

The following example shows how to structure a Pundit policy spec (in this example, the spec would be located in spec/policies/article_policy_spec.rb) which authorises administrators to view and destroy articles, while visitors are only authorised to access the show action and are forbidden to destroy articles.

require 'rails_helper'

describe ArticlePolicy do
  subject { described_class.new(user, article) }

  let(:article) { Article.create }

  context 'being a visitor' do
    let(:user) { nil }

    it { is_expected.to permit_action(:show) }
    it { is_expected.to forbid_action(:destroy) }
  end

  context 'being an administrator' do
    let(:user) { User.create(administrator: true) }

    it { is_expected.to permit_actions([:show, :destroy]) }
  end
end

A Testing Strategy

Pundit Matchers makes several assumptions about how you're going to structure your policy spec file. First, you should declare a subject for the spec. The subject should be a new instance of the policy class that you're testing. For example:

subject { described_class.new(user, article) }

The subject will be implicitly referenced inside of it blocks throughout the spec, whenever a permit or forbid matcher is used. The new method of the policy class should also contain the two objects that will be used to authorise each action within the policy: the user who is attempting access to the record and the record which is to be authorised.

Throughout the spec, you can use let statements to create objects for the user/record pair which is being authorised. For example, the following permit_action matcher would test that the user can destroy articles containing a user_id attribute which matches the user's ID:

let(:user) { User.create }
let(:article) { Article.create(user_id: user.id) }

it { is_expected.to permit_action(:destroy) }

The user and record objects used by the subject policy class will be reassigned whenever you reassign these using the let keyword. This will typically be done on a per context basis, as you will likely want to check the outcome of an authorisation attempt using different configurations of user/record pairs based on application state. These variations should be organised into separate RSpec context blocks, as in the previous example.

Testing Multiple Actions

To test multiple actions at once the permit_actions and forbid_actions matchers can be used. Both matchers accept an array of actions as a parameter. In the following example, visitors can only view articles, while administrators can also create and update articles.

require 'rails_helper'

describe ArticlePolicy do
  subject { described_class.new(user, article) }

  let(:article) { Article.new }

  context 'being a visitor' do
    let(:user) { nil }

    it { is_expected.to permit_action(:show) }
    it { is_expected.to forbid_actions(%i[create update]) }
  end

  context 'being an administrator' do
    let(:user) { User.create(administrator: true) }

    it { is_expected.to permit_actions(%i[show create update]) }
  end
end

Testing New/Create and Edit/Update Pairs

It common to write separate authorisation policies on a per action basis. A notable exception to this is in the case of new/create and edit/update action pairs. Generally speaking, you do not want to allow users to access a 'new' form unless the user is also authorised to create the record associated with that form. Similarly, you generally do not want the user to access an 'edit' form unless that user can also update the associated record.

Pundit Matchers provides four shortcut matchers to account for these common scenarios:

  • permit_new_and_create_actions
  • permit_edit_and_update_actions
  • forbid_new_and_create_actions
  • forbid_edit_and_update_actions

The following example tests a policy which grants administrators permission to create articles, but does not authorise visitors to do the same.

require 'rails_helper'

describe ArticlePolicy do
  subject { described_class.new(user, article) }

  let(:article) { Article.new }

  context 'being a visitor' do
    let(:user) { nil }

    it { is_expected.to forbid_new_and_create_actions }
  end

  context 'being an administrator' do
    let(:user) { User.create(administrator: true) }

    it { is_expected.to permit_new_and_create_actions }
  end
end

Testing Actions With Arguments

Sometimes you may have a custom policy action which accepts one or more arguments. Pundit Matchers allows you to specify a number of optional arguments to the permit_action and forbid_action matchers so that actions with arguments can be tested. For example, you might have a policy with a create_comment? method that takes the comment as an argument, like this:

class ArticlePolicy < ApplicationPolicy
  def create_comment?(comment)
    true unless comment.spam
  end
end

To test this, we can simply pass the comment to the permit or forbid action matcher.

require 'rails_helper'

describe ArticlePolicy do
  subject { described_class.new(user, article) }

  let(:user) { nil }
  let(:article) { Article.create }

  context 'comment is spam' do
    let(:comment) { Comment.new(spam: true) }

    it { is_expected.to forbid_action(:create_comment, comment) }
  end

  context 'comment is not spam' do
    let(:comment) { Comment.new(spam: false) }

    it { is_expected.to permit_action(:create_comment, comment) }
  end
end

Testing the Mass Assignment of Attributes

For policies that contain a permitted_attributes method (to authorise only particular attributes), Pundit Matchers provides two matchers to test for mass assignment.

  • permit_mass_assignment_of(:attribute_name)
  • forbid_mass_assignment_of(:attribute_name)

Let's modify the earlier example which tests a policy where administrators are granted permission to create articles, but visitors are not authorised to do so. In this updated example, visitors can create articles but they cannot set the publish flag.

require 'rails_helper'

describe ArticlePolicy do
  subject { described_class.new(user, article) }

  let(:article) { Article.new }

  context 'being a visitor' do
    let(:user) { nil }

    it { is_expected.to permit_new_and_create_actions }
    it { is_expected.to forbid_mass_assignment_of(:publish) }
  end

  context 'being an administrator' do
    let(:user) { User.create(administrator: true) }

    it { is_expected.to permit_new_and_create_actions }
    it { is_expected.to permit_mass_assignment_of(:publish) }
  end
end

Testing the Mass Assignment of Multiple Attributes

To test multiple attributes at once, the permit_mass_assignment_of and forbid_mass_assignment_of matchers can be used. Both matchers accept an array of attributes as a parameter. In the following example, visitors can only set the name of articles, while administrators can also set the description.

require 'rails_helper'

describe ArticlePolicy do
  subject { described_class.new(user, article) }

  let(:article) { Article.new }

  context 'being a visitor' do
    let(:user) { nil }

    it { is_expected.to permit_mass_assignment_of(%i[name]) }
    it { is_expected.to forbid_mass_assignment_of(%i[description]) }
  end

  context 'being an administrator' do
    let(:user) { User.create(administrator: true) }

    it { is_expected.to permit_mass_assignment_of(%i[name description]) }
  end
end

Testing the Mass Assignment of Attributes for Particular Actions

Pundit allows you to permit different attributes based on the current action by adding a permitted_attributes_for_#{action} method to your policy. Pundit Matchers supports testing of these methods via composable matchers.

  • permit_mass_assignment_of(:attribute_name).for_action(:action_name)
  • forbid_mass_assignment_of(:attribute_name).for_action(:action_name)

To illustrate this, we'll check for the mass assignment of a slug attribute in our spec. The policy is expected to allow visitors to set the slug attribute when creating an article, but not when updating it. Administrators will be permitted to set the slug when either creating or updating the article.

require 'rails_helper'

describe ArticlePolicy do
  subject { described_class.new(user, article) }

  let(:article) { Article.new }

  context 'being a visitor' do
    let(:user) { nil }

    it { is_expected.to permit_actions(%i[create update]) }
    it { is_expected.to forbid_mass_assignment_of(:slug) }
    it { is_expected.to permit_mass_assignment_of(:slug).for_action(:create) }
    it { is_expected.to forbid_mass_assignment_of(:slug).for_action(:update) }
  end

  context 'being an administrator' do
    let(:user) { User.create(administrator: true) }

    it { is_expected.to permit_actions(%i[create update]) }
    it { is_expected.to permit_mass_assignment_of(:slug) }
    it { is_expected.to permit_mass_assignment_of(:slug).for_action(:create) }
    it { is_expected.to permit_mass_assignment_of(:slug).for_action(:update) }
  end
end

Warning: Currently, Pundit Matchers does not automatically check if the attribute is permitted by a permitted_attributes_for_#{action} method, so even if you include a forbid_mass_assignment_of(:attribute) expectation in the policy spec, it's entirely possible that the attribute is being permitted through a permitted_attributes_for_#{action} method that is tested separately. For this reason, you should always explicitly test all implemented permitted_attributes_for_#{action} methods, as demonstrated in the example.

Testing Resolved Scopes

Another common scenario is to authorise particular records to be returned in a collection, based on particular properties of candidate records for that collection. To test for this you don't need to use any matchers. Instead, you can test for the inclusion or exclusion of a record in the resolved scope by using the let keyword to create a resolved scope based on the current user and record objects used by a Policy::Scope class.

For example, to test that visitors can only view published articles in a resolved scope you could write your policy spec as follows:

require 'rails_helper'

describe ArticlePolicy do
  subject { described_class.new(user, article) }

  let(:resolved_scope) do
    described_class::Scope.new(user, Article.all).resolve
  end

  context 'being a visitor' do
    let(:user) { nil }

    context 'accessing a published article' do
      let(:article) { Article.create(publish: true) }

      it 'includes article in resolved scope' do
        expect(resolved_scope).to include(article)
      end

      it { is_expected.to permit_action(:show) }
    end

    context 'accessing an unpublished article' do
      let(:article) { Article.create(publish: false) }

      it 'excludes article from resolved scope' do
        expect(resolved_scope).not_to include(article)
      end

      it { is_expected.to forbid_action(:show) }
    end
  end
end

The advantage of this approach is that it increases the readability of your specs. It allows you to place all of your specifications for authorising a particular context (user and record configuration) inside of a single context block; attempts to access a particular record via both actions and scopes are tested in the same part of the spec.

Putting It All Together

The following example puts all of the techniques discussed so far together in one policy spec that tests multiple user and record configurations within different context blocks. Here visitors can view published articles and create unpublished articles, while administrators have full access to all articles. Visitors can only set the slug attribute when creating an article.

To avoid deeply nested context trees it is a good idea to split larger policy specs up into multiple files. Here we divide the policy spec into seperate files for the visitor and administrator contexts, but you could just as easily split the files by published status or policy action.

spec/policies/article_policy/visitor_context_spec.rb:

require 'rails_helper'

describe ArticlePolicy do
  subject { described_class.new(user, article) }

  let(:resolved_scope) do
    described_class::Scope.new(user, Article.all).resolve
  end

  let(:user) { nil }

  context 'visitor creating a new article' do
    let(:article) { Article.new }

    it { is_expected.to permit_new_and_create_actions }
  end

  context 'visitor accessing a published article' do
    let(:article) { Article.create(publish: true) }

    it 'includes article in resolved scope' do
      expect(resolved_scope).to include(article)
    end

    it { is_expected.to permit_action(:show) }
    it { is_expected.to forbid_edit_and_update_actions }
    it { is_expected.to forbid_action(:destroy) }
  end

  context 'visitor accessing an unpublished article' do
    let(:article) { Article.create(publish: false) }

    it 'excludes article from resolved scope' do
      expect(resolved_scope).not_to include(article)
    end

    it { is_expected.to forbid_actions(%i[show destroy]) }
    it { is_expected.to forbid_edit_and_update_actions }
  end

  describe 'permitted attributes for visitor' do
    it { is_expected.to forbid_mass_assignment_of(:publish) }
    it do
      is_expected.to forbid_mass_assignment_of(:publish).for_action(:create)
    end
    it do
      is_expected.to forbid_mass_assignment_of(:publish).for_action(:update)
    end
    it { is_expected.to forbid_mass_assignment_of(:slug) }
    it { is_expected.to permit_mass_assignment_of(:slug).for_action(:create) }
    it { is_expected.to forbid_mass_assignment_of(:slug).for_action(:update) }
  end
end

spec/policies/article_policy/administrator_context_spec.rb:

require 'rails_helper'

describe ArticlePolicy do
  subject { described_class.new(user, article) }

  let(:resolved_scope) do
    described_class::Scope.new(user, Article.all).resolve
  end

  let(:user) { User.create(administrator: true) }

  context 'administrator creating a new article' do
    let(:article) { Article.new }

    it { is_expected.to permit_new_and_create_actions }
  end

  context 'administrator accessing a published article' do
    let(:article) { Article.create(publish: true) }

    it 'includes article in resolved scope' do
      expect(resolved_scope).to include(article)
    end

    it { is_expected.to permit_actions(%i[show destroy]) }
    it { is_expected.to permit_edit_and_update_actions }
  end

  context 'administrator accessing an unpublished article' do
    let(:article) { Article.create(publish: false) }

    it 'includes article in resolved scope' do
      expect(resolved_scope).to include(article)
    end

    it { is_expected.to permit_actions(%i[show destroy]) }
    it { is_expected.to permit_edit_and_update_actions }
  end

  describe 'permitted attributes for administrator' do
    it { is_expected.to permit_mass_assignment_of(:publish) }
    it do
      is_expected.to permit_mass_assignment_of(:publish).for_action(:create)
    end
    it do
      is_expected.to permit_mass_assignment_of(:publish).for_action(:update)
    end
    it { is_expected.to permit_mass_assignment_of(:slug) }
    it { is_expected.to permit_mass_assignment_of(:slug).for_action(:create) }
    it { is_expected.to permit_mass_assignment_of(:slug).for_action(:update) }
  end
end

Contributing

  • Use the Ruby Style Guide.
  • Run bin/rubocop before submitting a pull request with the aim of not introducing any new Rubocop violations.