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Makes FactoryGirl easy and automated. deep_* methods for automating FactoryGirl creation with required association trees and small tweaks, and a nice flexible FactoryGirl factories code generator.
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Now getting started with FactoryGirl is even more simple and DRY!

Stepford is an automatic required (non-null or presence validated) association resolver and factory generator for FactoryGirl.

The Stepford CLI allows can generate a factories.rb or multiple files each defining a single factory, for every existing model or for those specified.

The following would create/overwrite test/factories.rb with a factory for every model in app/models:

bundle exec stepford factories

If you use rspec, it would be:

bundle exec stepford factories --path spec

With our rspec helper, you can use this to create a bar and automatically create its dependencies and their dependencies, etc. providing ways to remedy circular dependencies:


You can also create_list, build, build_list, and build_stubbed:

deep_build_list(:bar, 5)

Need to customize it? You can use the normal FactoryGirl behavior (args, options, block), but in addition, you may specify options for each factories that would create direct or indirect associations.

e.g. maybe Bar has a required association called house_special which uses the beer factory, and we have a block we want to send into it, and Beer has specials that you want to build as a list of 3, using the tuesday_special_offer factory. In rspec, you'd do:

deep_create_list(:bar, with_factory_options: {
  house_special: [:create, :beer, {blk: ->(beer) do; beer.bubbles.create(attributes_for(:bubbles)); end}],
  specials: [:build_list, :tuesday_special_offer, 3]
}) do
  # any block you would send to FactoryGirl.create_list(:bar) would go here

By default autogenerated factories just have required attributes, e.g.:

require 'factory_girl_rails'

FactoryGirl.define do

  factory :post do
    created_at { 2.weeks.ago }
    name 'Test Name'
    price 1.23
    trait :with_summary do; template 'Test Summary'; end
    updated_at { 2.weeks.ago }


But you can have it autogenerate lots of the FactoryGirl bells and whistles:

require 'factory_girl_rails'

FactoryGirl.define do

  factory :post do
    association :edited_by, factory: :user
    FactoryGirl.create_list :comments, 2
    trait :with_notes do; FactoryGirl.create_list :note, 2; end
    trait :complete do; complete true; end
    trait :not_complete do; complete false; end
    created_at { 2.weeks.ago }
    name 'Test Name'
    price 1.23
    trait :with_summary do; template 'Test Summary'; end
    updated_at { 2.weeks.ago }


But, everything from author to with_notes may have association interdependency issues unless you hand edit the generated versions.

Stepford's FactoryGirl (and optionally its rspec helper) can help you avoid the heavy lifting.


In your Rails 3+ project, add this to your Gemfile:

gem 'stepford'

If you don't already have it, add this also:

gem 'factory_girl_rails'

Then run:

bundle install



Put this in your test/spec_helper.rb, spec/spec_helper.rb, or some other file used by your tests:

require 'stepford/factory_girl'


Stepford::FactoryGirl acts just like FactoryGirl, but it goes through all the null=false associations for foreign keys that aren't primary keys in the factory and/or its presence validated associations and attempts to create/build/build_stub depending on what you called originally, but also lets you pass in an :with_factory_options that can contain a hash of factory name symbols to the arguments and block you'd pass to it. You specify the block using a :blk option with a proc/lambda (probably a lambda) to use in that method.

If you don't specify options, it's easy (note: it is even easier with the rspec helper- see below). If Foo requires Bar and Bar requires a list of Foobars and a Barfoo, and you have factories for each of those, you'd only have to do:

Stepford::FactoryGirl.create_list(:foo, 5)

and that would create a list of 5 Foos, that each have a Bar, where each Bar has a list of 2 Foobars and a Barfoo. Easy!

But, you might want to specify traits, and certain attributes or associations or a block or different methods to use. That's pretty easy, too. Let's say you only need to tweak bar and foobar on each item, but the rest gets created as it would with just Stepford::FactoryGirl.create_list, so if you wanted to create 5 with two traits :fancy and :light and only build the bar and build bar's foobar as a stub:

Stepford::FactoryGirl.create_list(:foo, 5, :fancy, :light, with_factory_options: {
  bar: [:build, :bar],
  foobar: [:build_stubbed, :foobar]
}) do
  # any block you would send to FactoryGirl.create_list(:foo) would go here
RSpec Helpers

Put this in your spec/spec_helper.rb:

require 'stepford/factory_girl_rspec_helpers'

Then you can just use deep_create, deep_create_list, deep_build, deep_build_list, or deep_build_stubbed in your rspec tests (deep_create becomes a shortcut for ::Stepford::FactoryGirl.create, etc.), e.g.:

Stopping Circular References

If you have a circular reference (A has NOT NULL foreign key to B that has NOT NULL foreign key to C that has NOT NULL foreign key to A) either via schema where the foreign key is not also a primary key of the model with the belongs_to, or there is an ActiveRecord presence validation), there is a workaround. First, prepopulate one of the models involved in the interdependency chain in the database as part of test setup, or if the ids are NOT NULL but are not foreign key constrained (i.e. if you can enter an invalid ID into the foreign key column, which implies possible referential integrity issues) then you may be able to set them with an invalid id. Take that foreign id and then use the following to ensure that it will set that foreign id or instance. This is done at a global level which may not work for you, but it makes it convenient to put into your spec/spec_helper.rb, etc. For example, let's say your bar has NOT NULL on bartender_id and waiter_id, and in turn bartender and waiter both have a NOT NULL bar_id, and neither enforce foreign keys. Maybe you have preloaded data for waiter somehow as the id '123', but want to set bartender to just use an invalid id '-1', and you want to do it when they are on their second loop. You could use:

Stepford::FactoryGirl.stop_circular_refs = {
   [:bartender, :bar] => {on_loop: 2, set_foreign_key_to: -1},
   [:waiter, :bar] => {on_loop: 2, set_to: Waiter.find(123)},

Leave out :on_loop or set :on_loop to 0 to use the set instead of attempting to build/create.


Add somewhere after the require:

Stepford::FactoryGirl.debug = true


Stepford has a CLI with a circular reference checker and a generator to automatically create your factories file(s).


Check ActiveRecord circular dependencies where the foreign key for a belongs_to is not also a primary key of the model, or there is an ActiveRecord presence validation keeping an association from being null:

bundle exec stepford circular

Then it outputs the circular dependencies, e.g.:

The following non-nullable foreign keys used in ActiveRecord model associations are involved in circular dependencies:

beers.waitress_id -> waitresses.bartender_id -> bartenders.beer_id -> beers.waitress_id

beers.waitress_id -> waitresses.bartender_id -> bartenders.order_id -> order.beer_id -> beers.waitress_id

Distinct foreign keys involved in a circular dependency:


Foreign keys by number of circular dependency chains involved with:

2 (out of 2): beers.waitress_id -> waitresses
2 (out of 2): waitresses.bartender_id -> bartenders
1 (out of 2): order.beer_id -> beers
1 (out of 2): bartenders.order_id -> order
1 (out of 2): bartenders.beer_id -> beers
Creating Factories

Autogenerate test/factories.rb from all model files in app/models:

bundle exec stepford factories

If you want one file per model, use --multiple. The default path is test/factories, which it assumes exists. In that directory, it will create a factory file for each model. If you want separate factory files in spec/factories, you'd use:

bundle exec stepford factories --path spec/factories --multiple

To put all of your factories into spec/factories.rb:

bundle exec stepford factories --path spec

This also works:

bundle exec stepford factories --path spec/support/factories.rb
Specifying Models

By default, Stepford processes all models found in app/models.

Specify --models and a comma-delimited list of models to only output the models you specify. If you don't want to overwrite existing factory files, you should direct the output to another file and manually copy each in:

bundle exec stepford factories --path spec/support/put_into_factories.rb --models foo,bar,foo_bar

To generate traits for each attribute that would be included with --attributes, but isn't because --attributes is not specified:

bundle exec stepford factories --attribute-traits

To generate traits for each association that would be included with --associations, but isn't because --associations is not specified:

bundle exec stepford factories --association-traits

If you use Stepford::FactoryGirl (or deep_* methods in rspec) to automatically generate factories, you may not need to generate associations, because that sets them for you. If you do choose to use associations, note that these will likely create factories with interdependence issues. When there are NOT NULLs on foreign keys and/or presence validations, etc. you can't just use after(:create) or after(:build) to set associations, and without those you can have issues with "Trait not registered" or "Factory not registered". Later versions of FactoryGirl may make this easier, and be sure to see notes from Josh down in the troubleshooting section.

If you are ready to hand-edit to fix things, then copy paste stuff, rename it, etc. instead of just using Stepford::FactoryGirl (or deep_* methods in rspec), then keep reading.

# Include Required Assocations

To include NOT NULL foreign key associations or presence validated associations:

bundle exec stepford factories --include-required-associations
# Include All Associations

To include all associations even if they aren't deemed to be required by not null ActiveRecord constraints defined in the model:

bundle exec stepford factories --associations
# Checking Model Associations

If --associations or --validate-associations is specified, Stepford first loads Rails and attempts to check your models for broken associations.

If associations are deemed broken, it will output proposed changes.

No IDs

If working with a legacy schema, you may have models with foreign_key columns that you don't have associations defined for in the model. If that is the case, we don't want to assign arbitrary integers to them and try to create a record. If that is the case, try --exclude-all-ids, which will exclude those ids as attributes defined in the factories and you can add associations as needed to get things working.

How NOT NULL, and Other Database Constraints and Active Record Validations Are Handled

If the ActiveRecord column null property for the attribute is true for the attribute or foreign key for the association, or if there is a presence validator for an attribute or foreign key for the association, then that attribute or association will be defined by the default factory.

Currently uniqueness constraints are ignored and must be handled by FactoryGirl sequence or similar if not automatically populated by your model or the database, e.g. in your factory, if username uniqueness is enforced by a unique constraint on the database-side, you'll need to do something like this manually in the factory:

sequence(:username) {|n| "user#{n}" }
Testing Factories

See Testing all Factories (with RSpec) in the FactoryGirl wiki.

Here are a few rspecs that test the FactoryGirl factories and the Stepford deep_builds:

require 'spec_helper'
require 'stepford/factory_girl_rspec_helpers'

describe 'validate factories build' do
  FactoryGirl.factories.each do |factory|
    context "with factory for :#{}" do
      subject { build( }

      it "is valid" do
        subject.valid?.should be, subject.errors.full_messages

describe 'validate factories deep build' do
  FactoryGirl.factories.each do |factory|
    context "with factory for :#{}" do
      subject { deep_build( }

      it "is valid" do
        subject.valid?.should be, subject.errors.full_messages

If you have duplicate factory definitions during Rails load, it may complain. Just move, rename, or remove the offending files and factories and retry.

The CLI produces factories that use Ruby 1.9 hash syntax. If you aren't using Ruby 1.9, it may not fail during generation, but it might later when loading the factories.

If you are using STI, you'll need to manually fix the value that goes into the type attribute, or you can remove those.

Tested with postgreSQL 9.x only.

If you use Stepford to create factories for existing tests and the tests fail with:

   PG::Error: ERROR:  null value in column "something_id" violates not-null constraint

or maybe:

   Validation failed: Item The item is required., Pricer The pricer is required., Purchased by A purchaser is required.

or you might get:

  stack level too deep

ThoughtBot's Josh Clayton provided some suggestions for this, including using methods to generate more complex object structures:

def post_containing_comment_by_author
  author = FactoryGirl.create(:user)
  post = FactoryGirl.create(:post)
  FactoryGirl.create_list(:comment, 3)
  FactoryGirl.create(:comment, author: author, post: post)

or referring to created objects through associations, though he said multiple nestings get tricky:

factory :post do
  title 'Ruby is fun'

factory :comment do
  body 'I love Ruby too!'

  trait :authored_by_post_author do
    author { }

comment = FactoryGirl.create(:comment, :authored_by_post_author) == # true

This is the reason we wrote the Stepford's Factory Girl proxy and helper rspec methods (see above). It automatically determines what needs to be set in what order and does create, create_list or build, build_list, etc. automatically.

Unfortunately, it still has trouble with fkey constraints:

insert or update on table "foobars" violates foreign key constraint "some_foreign_key_contraint_name"

Working on that.


Copyright (c) 2012 Gary S. Weaver, released under the MIT license.

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