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Speedup Test::Unit + RSpec + Cucumber by running parallel on multiple CPUs (or cores).

Setup for Rails


Rails 3

As gem

gem install parallel_tests

# add to Gemfile
gem "parallel_tests", :group => :development

OR as plugin

gem install parallel
rails plugin install git://

# add to Gemfile
gem "parallel", :group => :development

Rails 2

As gem

gem install parallel_tests

# add to config/environments/development.rb
config.gem "parallel_tests"

# add to Rakefile
begin; require 'parallel_tests/tasks'; rescue LoadError; end

OR as plugin

gem install parallel
./script/plugin install git://


1: Add to config/database.yml

  database: xxx_test<%= ENV['TEST_ENV_NUMBER'] %>

2: Create additional database(s)

rake parallel:create

3: Copy development schema (repeat after migrations)

rake parallel:prepare

4: Run!

rake parallel:test          # Test::Unit
rake parallel:spec          # RSpec
rake parallel:features      # Cucumber

rake parallel:test[1] --> force 1 CPU --> 86 seconds
rake parallel:test    --> got 2 CPUs? --> 47 seconds
rake parallel:test    --> got 4 CPUs? --> 26 seconds

Test just a subfolder (e.g. use one integration server per subfolder)

rake parallel:test[models]
rake parallel:test[something/else]

partial paths are OK too...
rake parallel:test[functional] == rake parallel:test[fun]

Example output

2 processes for 210 specs, ~ 105 specs per process
... test output ...

877 examples, 0 failures, 11 pending
843 examples, 0 failures, 1 pending

Took 29.925333 seconds

Spec Loggers

Even process runtimes

Log test runtime to give each process the same test runtime.

Add to your spec/parallel_spec.opts (or spec/spec.opts) :

RSpec 1.x:
  --format progress
  --format ParallelSpecs::SpecRuntimeLogger:tmp/parallel_profile.log
RSpec >= 2.2:
  Installed as plugin: -I vendor/plugins/parallel_tests/lib
  --format progress
  --format ParallelSpecs::SpecRuntimeLogger --out tmp/parallel_profile.log


This logger stops the different processes overwriting each other's output.

Add the following to your spec/parallel_spec.opts (or spec/spec.opts) :

RSpec 1.x:
  --format progress
  --format ParallelSpecs::SpecSummaryLogger:tmp/spec_summary.log
RSpec >= 2.2:
  --format progress
  --format ParallelSpecs::SpecSummaryLogger --out tmp/spec_summary.log


This logger produces command lines for running any failing examples.


spec /path/to/my_spec.rb -e "should do something"

Add the following to your spec/parallel_spec.opts (or spec/spec.opts) :

RSpec 1.x:
  --format ParallelSpecs::SpecFailuresLogger:tmp/failing_specs.log
RSpec >= 2.2:
  --format ParallelSpecs::SpecFailuresLogger --out tmp/failing_specs.log

Setup for non-rails

sudo gem install parallel_tests
# go to your project dir
parallel_test OR parallel_spec OR parallel_cucumber
# [Optional] use ENV['TEST_ENV_NUMBER'] inside your tests to select separate db/memcache/etc.

[optional] Only run selected files & folders:

parallel_test test/bar test/baz/xxx_text.rb

Options are:

-n [PROCESSES]                   How many processes to use, default: available CPUs
-p, --path [PATH]                run tests inside this path only
    --no-sort                    do not sort files before running them
-m, --multiply-processes [FLOAT] use given number as a multiplier of processes to run
-r, --root [PATH]                execute test commands from this path
-e, --exec [COMMAND]             execute this code parallel and with ENV['TEST_ENV_NUM']
-o, --test-options '[OPTIONS]'   execute test commands with those options
-t, --type [TYPE]                which type of tests to run? test, spec or features
    --non-parallel               execute same commands but do not in parallel, needs --exec
-v, --version                    Show Version
-h, --help                       Show this.

You can run any kind of code with -e / --execute

parallel_test -n 5 -e 'ruby -e "puts %[hello from process #{ENV[:TEST_ENV_NUMBER.to_s].inspect}]"'
hello from process "2"
hello from process ""
hello from process "3"
hello from process "5"
hello from process "4"
1 Process2 Processes4 Processes
RSpec spec-suite18s14s10s


  • [Capybara + Selenium] add to env.rb: Capybara.server_port = 8888 + ENV['TEST_ENV_NUMBER'].to_i
  • [RSpec] add a spec/parallel_spec.opts to use different options, e.g. no --drb (default: spec/spec.opts)
  • [RSpec] if something looks fishy try to delete script/spec
  • [RSpec] if script/spec is missing parallel:spec uses just spec (which solves some issues with double-loaded environment.rb)
  • [RSpec] 'script/spec_server' or spork do not work in parallel
  • [RSpec] ./script/generate rspec if you are running rspec from gems (this plugin uses script/spec which may fail if rspec files are outdated)
  • [Bundler] if you have a Gemfile then bundle exec will be used to run tests
  • Capybara setup
  • Sphinx setup
  • [SQL schema format] use :ruby schema format to get faster parallel:prepare`
  • with zsh this would be rake "parallel:prepare[3]"


  • make jRuby compatible basics
  • make windows compatible


inspired by pivotal labs


Michael Grosser
Hereby placed under public domain, do what you want, just do not hold me accountable...