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RSpec-2 for Rails-3

rspec-rails-2 brings rspec-2 to rails-3 with lightweight extensions to both libraries.


gem install rspec-rails --pre

This installs the following gems:

  • rspec
  • rspec-core
  • rspec-expectations
  • rspec-mocks
  • rspec-rails


Add this line to the Gemfile:

gem "rspec-rails", ">= 2.0.0.beta.8"

This will expose generators, including rspec:install. Now you can run:

script/rails g rspec:install

This adds the spec directory and some skeleton files, including the "rake spec" task.

Note that things are in flux, so some generators generate code that doesn't work all that well yet.

Living on edge

If you prefer to exploit bundler's support for pointing a gem at a github repo, be sure to do so for all five of the relevant rspec gems:

gem "rspec-rails",        :git => "git://"
gem "rspec",              :git => "git://"
gem "rspec-core",         :git => "git://"
gem "rspec-expectations", :git => "git://"
gem "rspec-mocks",        :git => "git://"

Keep in mind that each of these repos is under active development, which means that its very likely that you'll pull from these repos and they won't play nice together. If playing nice is important to you, stick to the published gems.

Backwards compatibility

This is a complete rewrite of the rspec-rails extension designed to work with rails-3.x and rspec-2.x. It will not work with older versions of either rspec or rails. Many of the APIs from rspec-rails-1 have been carried forward, however, so upgrading an app from rspec-1/rails-2, while not pain-free, should not send you to the doctor with a migraine.


  • each example runs in its own transaction
    • configurable in RSpec.configure
      • see generated spec/spec_helper.rb
  • model specs in spec/models
  • controller specs in spec/controllers
  • view specs in spec/views
  • mailer specs in spec/mailers
  • observer specs in spec/models
  • request specs in spec/requests
    • these wrap rails integration tests
  • rails assertions
  • assertion-wrapping matchers
    • redirect_to
    • render_template
  • helper specs
  • webrat matchers
  • generators
    • run "script/rails g" to see the list of available generators

Known issues


Request Specs

Request specs live in spec/requests, and mix in behavior from Rails' integration tests.

Controller Specs

Controller specs live in spec/controllers, and mix in ActionController::TestCase::Behavior. See the documentation for ActionController::TestCase to see what facilities are available from Rails.

You can use RSpec expectations/matchers or Test::Unit assertions.

rendering views

By default, controller specs do not render views (as of beta.9). This supports specifying controllers without concern for whether the views they render work correctly or even exist. If you prefer to render the views (a la Rails' functional tests), you can use the render_views declaration in each example group:

describe SomeController do


In addition to what Rails offers, controller specs provide all of rspec-core's matchers and the rspec-rails' specific matchers as well.


Delegates to Rails' assert_template:

response.should render_template("new")


Delegates to assert_redirect

response.should redirect_to(widgets_path)

View specs

View specs live in spec/views, and mix in ActionView::TestCase::Behavior.

describe "events/show.html.erb" do
  it "displays the event location" do
    assign(:event, stub_model(Event,
      :location => "Chicago"
    rendered.should contain("Chicago")

Helper specs

Helper specs live in spec/helpers, and mix in ActionView::TestCase::Behavior.

describe EventsHelper do
  describe "#link_to_event" do
    it "displays the title, and formatted date" do
      event ="Ruby Kaigi",, 8, 27))
      # helper is an instance of ActionView::Base configured with the
      # EventsHelper and all of Rails' built-in helpers
      helper.link_to_event.should =~ /Ruby Kaigi, 27 Aug, 2010/
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