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Examples of flaky Rails specs along with solutions
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Rails Flaky Spec Examples Project

flaky: CircleCI stable: GithubCI

This project is supposed to help show flaky test issues by example. You can run the project and see specs that sometimes pass and sometimes fail.

  • each spec file should try to show a single category of flaky spec. It may contain multiple specs with similar examples or have specs that need to be run together to show order dependent issues.
  • each spec file nested in a solved branch should contain a spec with the same name which is 100% stable, resolving the flaky issue, along with comments on what the issue and problem were.
  • if possible, show flakiness in a single spec file vs flakiness requiring the full suite or multiple files

Getting Started

  • git clone
  • cd rails_flaky_spec_examples
  • gem install bundler #if you don't have bundler 2.0.X
  • bundle install
  • yarn
  • bundle exec rake db:drop db:create db:migrate
  • bundle exec rspec --tag solved # this should pass meaning you are all setup
  • bundle exec rspec # this should have a random number of failures

Understanding Examples

Every example should try to document some notes, at the top of the file.

example docs on flaky spec file:

# Classification: Shared State
# Approximate Success Rate: 50%
# Suite Required: false  # does this example stand alone or flake as part of a suite

example docs on solved spec file nested in the solved directory:

# Classification: Shared State
# Approximate Success Rate: 50%
# Suite Required: false
# Example: very brief description of the bug
# Description:
# long description of the flakiness and how it is solved in this solution.
# flaky: bundle exec rspec spec/helpers/posts_helper_spec.rb
# failure: bundle exec rspec spec/helpers/posts_helper_spec.rb --seed 52493
# success: bundle exec rspec spec/helpers/posts_helper_spec.rb --seed 52496

Seeing Solutions

The suite is configured by default to run all the specs not tagged solved. The full default suite is built with the intention of having a highly unstable, and randomly failing test suite.

Run with --tag solved to see specs passes. Each flaky spec should have a paired spec, which has the same intention but aren't flaky and should pass 100% of the time.

  • run entire solved suite: bundle exec rspec --tag solved
  • run individual solved spec: bundle exec rspec --tag solved spec/helpers/solved/posts_helper_spec.rb


Each spec should list it's flaky classification(s) from the list below when a new classification example is added please list it below. We encourage multiple examples of the same classification, in different scenarios. For example flaky timing classified specs can be very different in unit and system tests.

  • Shared State
  • Time
  • Hard-coded Expectations
  • Ordering
  • Race Condition
  • Randomness
  • External Dependency

Submitting Flaky Examples

We would love additional flaky spec examples if you have solved a bad flaky spec somewhere else try to create a minimal reproducible version of it as a PR for this project.

  • Send a PR with two spec files one show how the spec was flaky and another showing it in a "solved" state.
    • one spec file is a flaky spec in the standard spec directory
    • one spec file is a stable spec in a subdirectory of solved below the standard spec directory


A list of suggested examples, I have yet to add...

  • shared state
  • add factory_bot example
    • We could solve with factorybot sequences title1, title2, title3
    • could be solved this way as an alternative spec/models/post_example_e_spec.rb
  • Timing
    • timezone specific example (vs DST)
    • leap year
  • avoid exact ordering, match_array matcher instead of eq([...]). or eq vs include?
  • capybara
    • ajax request race conditions
    • with external network API request
    • add how to precompile assets so there isn't a race on very first spec that needs assets
  • infrastructure error like redis or postgres hasn't started in time for the spec suite
    • perhaps this one is to much of a CI or machine setup timing issue vs flaky tests?
  • class munging define the same fake test class in two different specs, that would fail when run in wrong order

Interesting Seeds

These can be helpful in terms of examples and understanding what is happening... Technically if absolutely everything goes right, the flaky spec suite could pass... While working to fix a bug, you can use your local seed to ensure the spec you are trying to fix keeps failing.

  • bundle exec rspec --seed 23455 spec/models/ -> a passing run


There are a number of good related posts and projects that are also good follow up reading on flaky specs.

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