A set of shared spec helpers specific to Puppetlabs projects
Latest commit 6c8aa5b Aug 26, 2016 @DavidS DavidS Release prep for 1.2.2


Puppet Labs Spec Helper

The Short Version

This repository is meant to provide a single source of truth for how to initialize different Puppet versions for spec testing.

The common use case is a module such as stdlib that works with many versions of Puppet. The stdlib module should require the spec helper in this repository, which will in turn automatically figure out the version of Puppet being tested against and perform version specific initialization.

Other "customers" that should use this module are:


When developing or testing modules, simply clone this repository and install the gem it contains. The recommended way to do this is using bundler.

Example Gemfile:

source 'https://rubygems.org'
gem 'puppetlabs_spec_helper'

Add this to your project's spec_helper.rb:

require 'puppetlabs_spec_helper/module_spec_helper'

Add this to your project's Rakefile:

require 'puppetlabs_spec_helper/rake_tasks'

And run the spec tests:

$ cd $modulename
$ rake spec

Parallel Fixture Downloads

Fixture downloads will now execute in parallel to speed up the testing process. Which can represent >= 600% speed increase (depending on number of threads). You can control the amount of threads by setting the MAX_FIXTURE_THREAD_COUNT environment variable to a positive integer, the default is currently 10. We don't suggest going higher than 25 as the gains are marginal due to some repos taking a long time to download. Please be aware that your internal VCS system may not be able to handle a high load in which case the server would fail to clone the repository. Because of this issue, this setting is tunable via MAX_FIXTURE_THREAD_COUNT.

Additionally, you can also speed up cloning when using the ssh protocol by multiplexing ssh sessions. Add something similar to your ssh config. Note: you may need to change the host if your using an internal git server.

Host github.com
  ControlMaster auto
  ControlPath ~/.ssh/ssh-%r@%h:%p
  ControlPersist yes

Note: parallel downloads is only available for repositories and not forge modules.

Parallel tests

It is also possible to use the parallel_tests Gem via the :parallel_spec Rake task to run rspec commands in parallel on groups of spec files.

Use of parallelization at this level can result in large performance benefits when the Rspec examples tend to cause a number of large, CPU-intensive catalog compilations to occur. An example of where this might be the case is in a complex module with a lot of tests or a control repo with many hosts.

Be aware however that in other circumstances this parallelization can result in the tests actually taking longer to run. The best thing to do is time rspec spec and rspec parallel_spec and use the parallelization only when there is a clear benefit.

To enable this feature, add the parallel_tests Gem to your project's Gemfile:

gem 'parallel_tests'

And then to run spec tests in parallel:

$ rake parallel_spec


Please file issues against this project at the Puppet Labs Issue Tracker

The Long Version

Purpose of this Project

This project is intended to serve two purposes:

  1. To serve as a bridge between external projects and multiple versions of puppet; in other words, if your project has a dependency on puppet, you shouldn't need to need to worry about the details of how to initialize puppet's state for testing, no matter what version of puppet you are testing against.
  2. To provide some convenience classes / methods for doing things like creating tempfiles, common rspec matchers, etc. These classes are in the puppetlabs_spec directory.
  3. To provide a common set of Rake tasks so that the procedure for testing modules is unified.

To Use this Project

The most common usage scenario is that you will check out the 'master' branch of this project from github, and install it as a rubygem. There should be few or no cases where you would want to have any other branch of this project besides master/HEAD.

Running on non-current ruby versions

Since gem and bundler, ruby's package management tools, do not take the target ruby version into account when downloading packages, the puppetlabs_spec_helper gem can only depend on gems that are available for all supported ruby versions. If you can/want to use features from other packages, install those additional packages manually, or have a look at the Gemfile, which provides code to specify those dependencies in a more "friendly" way. This currently affects the following gems:

  • puppet
  • rubocop
  • rubocop-rspec
  • json_pure
  • rack

Initializing Puppet for Testing

In most cases, your project should be able to define a spec_helper.rb that includes just this one simple line:

require 'puppetlabs_spec_helper/puppet_spec_helper'

Then, as long as the gem is installed, you should be all set.

If you are using rspec-puppet for module testing, you will want to include a different library:

require 'puppetlabs_spec_helper/module_spec_helper'

NOTE that this is specifically for initializing Puppet's core. If your project does not have any dependencies on puppet and you just want to use the utility classes, see the next section.

A number of the Puppet parser features, controlled via configuration during a normal puppet run, can be controlled by exporting specific environment variables for the spec run. These are:

  • FUTURE_PARSER - set to "yes" to enable the future parser, the equivalent of setting parser=future in puppet.conf.
  • STRICT_VARIABLES - set to "yes" to enable set to strict variable checking when using Puppet versions between 3.5 and 4.0; set to "no" to disable strict variable checking on Puppet versions 4.0, and later. See strict_variables in puppet.conf for details.
  • ORDERING - set to the desired ordering method ("title-hash", "manifest", or "random") to set the order of unrelated resources when applying a catalog. Leave unset for the default behavior, currently "random". This is equivalent to setting ordering in puppet.conf.
  • STRINGIFY_FACTS - set to "no" to enable structured facts, otherwise leave unset to retain the current default behavior. This is equivalent to setting stringify_facts=false in puppet.conf.
  • TRUSTED_NODE_DATA - set to "yes" to enable the $facts hash and trusted node data, which enabled $facts and $trusted hashes. This is equivalent to setting trusted_node_data=true in puppet.conf.

As an example, to run spec tests with the future parser, strict variable checking, and manifest ordering, you would:


When executing tests in a matrix CI environment, tests can be split up to run a share of specs per CI node in parallel. Set the CI_NODE_TOTAL environment variable to the total number of nodes, and the CI_NODE_INDEX to a number between 1 and the CI_NODE_TOTAL.

If using Travis CI, add new lines to the "env" section of .travis.yml per node, remembering to duplicate any existing environment variables:


Using Utility Classes

If you'd like to use the Utility classes (PuppetlabsSpec::Files, PuppetlabsSpec::Fixtures), you just need to add this to your project's spec_helper.rb:

require 'puppetlabs_spec_helper/puppetlabs_spec_helper'

NOTE that the above line happens automatically if you've required 'puppetlabs_spec_helper/puppet_spec_helper', so you don't need to do both.

In either case, you'll have all of the functionality of Puppetlabs::Files, Puppetlabs::Fixtures, etc., mixed-in to your rspec context.

Using Fixtures

puppetlabs_spec_helper has the ability to populate the spec/fixtures/modules directory with dependent modules when rake spec or rake spec_prep is run. To do so, all required modules should be listed in a file named .fixtures.yml in the root of the project. You can specify a alternate location for that file in the FIXTURES_YML environment variable.

When specifying the repo source of the fixture you have a few options as to which revision of the codebase you wish to use.

  • repo - the url to the repo
  • scm - options include git or hg. This is an optional step as the helper code will figure out which scm is used.

    scm: git
    scm: hg
  • target - the directory name to clone the repo into ie. target: mymodule defaults to the repo name (Optional)

  • subdir - directory to be removed from the cloned repo. Its contents will be moved to the root directory (Optional)
  • ref - used to specify the tag name like version hash of commit (Optional)

    ref: 1.0.0
    ref: 880fca52c
  • branch - used to specify the branch name you want to use ie. branch: development
  • flags - additional flags passed to the module installer (both puppet and scm)

    flags: --verbose

    Note: ref and branch can be used together to get a specific revision on a specific branch

Fixtures Examples

Basic fixtures that will symlink spec/fixtures/modules/my_modules to the project root:

    my_module: "#{source_dir}"

This is the same as specifying no symlinks fixtures at all.

Add firewall and stdlib as required module fixtures:

    firewall: "git://github.com/puppetlabs/puppetlabs-firewall"
    stdlib: "git://github.com/puppetlabs/puppetlabs-stdlib"

Specify that the git tag 2.4.2 of `stdlib' should be checked out:

    firewall: "git://github.com/puppetlabs/puppetlabs-firewall"
      repo: "git://github.com/puppetlabs/puppetlabs-stdlib"
      ref: "2.6.0"

Move manifests and siblings to root directory when they are inside a code directory:

      repo: "git://github.com/puppetlabs/puppetlabs-extradirectory"
      subdir: "code"

Install modules from Puppet Forge:

    firewall: "puppetlabs/firewall"
      repo: "puppetlabs/stdlib"
      ref: "2.6.0"

Pass additional flags to module installation:

      repo: "puppetlabs/stdlib"
      ref: "2.6.0"
      flags: "--module_repository https://my_repo.com"
        repo: "git://github.com/puppetlabs/puppetlabs-firewall"
        ref: "2.6.0"
        flags: "--verbose"

Testing Parser Functions

This whole section is superseded by improved support of accessing the scope in rspec-puppet.

Generating code coverage reports

This section describes how to add code coverage reports for Ruby files (types, providers, ...). See the documentation of RSpec-Puppet for Puppet manifest coverage reports.

Starting with Ruby 1.9, the de facto standard for Ruby code coverage is SimpleCov. You can add it to your module like this:

# First line of spec/spec_helper.rb
require 'simplecov'

SimpleCov.start do
  add_filter '/spec/'
  # Exclude bundled Gems in `/.vendor/`
  add_filter '/.vendor/'

require 'puppetlabs_spec_helper/module_spec_helper'
# Further content

The reports will then be generated every time you invoke RSpec, e.g. via rake spec, and are written to /coverage/, which you should add to .gitignore.

Remember to add gem 'simplecov', require: false to your Gemfile.

Using Code Climate

You can also use Code Climate together with SimpleCov:

# First line of spec/spec_helper.rb
require 'codeclimate-test-reporter'

SimpleCov.formatters = [

SimpleCov.start do
  add_filter '/spec/'
  # Exclude bundled Gems in `/.vendor/`
  add_filter '/.vendor/'

require 'puppetlabs_spec_helper/module_spec_helper'
# Further content

Remember to add gem 'codeclimate-test-reporter', require: false to your Gemfile.

Using Coveralls

You can also use Coveralls together with SimpleCov:

# First line of spec/spec_helper.rb
require 'simplecov'
require 'coveralls'

SimpleCov.formatters = [

SimpleCov.start do
  add_filter '/spec/'
  # Exclude bundled Gems in `/.vendor/`
  add_filter '/.vendor/'

require 'puppetlabs_spec_helper/module_spec_helper'
# Further content

Remember to add gem 'coveralls', require: false to your Gemfile.

Some Notes for Windows Users

A windows users may need to do one of two things to execute rake spec.

Although things may appear to work, the init.pp may not transfer to the fixtures folder as needed or may transfer as an empty file.

This is related to a registry security setting requiring elevated privileges to create symbolic links.

Currently, there are two known approaches to get around this problem.

  • run your windows shell (cmd) as an Administrator
  • modify the registry entry settings to allow symbolic links to be created.

The following links may give you some insight into why...

Server Fault Post

Stack Overflow Post

Microsoft TechNet