Spring is a Rails application preloader. It speeds up development by keeping your application running in the background so you don't need to boot it every time you run a test, rake task or migration.
- Totally automatic; no need to explicitly start and stop the background process
- Reloads your application code on each run
- Restarts your application when configs / initializers / gem dependencies are changed
- Ruby versions: MRI 1.9.3, MRI 2.0, MRI 2.1, MRI 2.2, MRI 2.3, MRI 2.4
- Rails versions: 4.2, 5.0, 5.1 (Spring is installed by default when you do
rails newto generate your application)
Spring makes extensive use of
Process.fork, so won't be able to
provide a speed up on platforms which don't support forking (Windows, JRuby).
Add Spring to your Gemfile:
gem "spring", group: :development
gem "spring", git: "..." won't work and is not a
supported way of using Spring.)
It's recommended to 'springify' the executables in your
$ bundle install $ bundle exec spring binstub --all
This generates a
bin/spring executable, and inserts a small snippet of
code into relevant existing executables. The snippet looks like this:
begin load File.expand_path('../spring', __FILE__) rescue LoadError end
On platforms where Spring is installed and supported, this snippet hooks Spring into the execution of commands. In other cases, the snippet will just be silently ignored and the lines after it will be executed as normal.
If you don't want to prefix every command you type with
can use direnv to
./bin to your
PATH when you
cd into your application.
Simply create an
.envrc file with the command
PATH_add bin in your
For this walkthrough I've generated a new Rails application, and run
rails generate scaffold post name:string.
Let's run a test:
$ time bin/rake test test/controllers/posts_controller_test.rb Running via Spring preloader in process 2734 Run options: # Running tests: ....... Finished tests in 0.127245s, 55.0121 tests/s, 78.5887 assertions/s. 7 tests, 10 assertions, 0 failures, 0 errors, 0 skips real 0m2.165s user 0m0.281s sys 0m0.066s
That wasn't particularly fast because it was the first run, so Spring had to boot the application. It's now running:
$ bin/spring status Spring is running: 26150 spring server | spring-demo-app | started 3 secs ago 26155 spring app | spring-demo-app | started 3 secs ago | test mode
The next run is faster:
$ time bin/rake test test/controllers/posts_controller_test.rb Running via Spring preloader in process 8352 Run options: # Running tests: ....... Finished tests in 0.176896s, 39.5714 tests/s, 56.5305 assertions/s. 7 tests, 10 assertions, 0 failures, 0 errors, 0 skips real 0m0.610s user 0m0.276s sys 0m0.059s
If we edit any of the application files, or test files, the changes will be picked up on the next run without the background process having to restart. This works in exactly the same way as the code reloading which allows you to refresh your browser and instantly see changes during development.
But if we edit any of the files which were used to start the application (configs, initializers, your gemfile), the application needs to be fully restarted. This happens automatically.
$ touch config/application.rb $ bin/spring status Spring is running: 26150 spring server | spring-demo-app | started 36 secs ago 26556 spring app | spring-demo-app | started 1 sec ago | test mode
The application detected that
config/application.rb changed and
automatically restarted itself.
If we run a command that uses a different environment, then that environment gets booted up:
$ bin/rake routes Running via Spring preloader in process 2363 posts GET /posts(.:format) posts#index POST /posts(.:format) posts#create new_post GET /posts/new(.:format) posts#new edit_post GET /posts/:id/edit(.:format) posts#edit post GET /posts/:id(.:format) posts#show PUT /posts/:id(.:format) posts#update DELETE /posts/:id(.:format) posts#destroy $ bin/spring status Spring is running: 26150 spring server | spring-demo-app | started 1 min ago 26556 spring app | spring-demo-app | started 42 secs ago | test mode 26707 spring app | spring-demo-app | started 2 secs ago | development mode
There's no need to "shut down" Spring. This will happen automatically
when you close your terminal. However if you do want to do a manual shut
down, use the
$ bin/spring stop Spring stopped.
From within your code, you can check whether Spring is active with
To remove Spring:
- 'Unspring' your bin/ executables:
bin/spring binstub --remove --all
- Remove spring from your Gemfile
You must not install Spring on your production environment. To prevent it from
being installed, provide the
--without development test argument to the
bundle install command which is used to install gems on your production
$ bundle install --without development test
Runs a rake task. Rake tasks run in the
development environment by
default. You can change this on the fly by using the
environment variable. The environment is also configurable with the
Spring::Commands::Rake.environment_matchers hash. This has sensible
defaults, but if you need to match a specific task to a specific
environment, you'd do it like this:
Spring::Commands::Rake.environment_matchers["perf_test"] = "test" Spring::Commands::Rake.environment_matchers[/^perf/] = "test" # To change the environment when you run `rake` with no arguments Spring::Commands::Rake.environment_matchers[:default] = "development"
These execute the rails command you already know and love. If you run
a different sub command (e.g.
rails server) then Spring will automatically
pass it through to the underlying
rails executable (without the
You can add these to your Gemfile for additional commands:
- spring-commands-testunit - useful for
Test::Unittests on Rails 3, since only Rails 4 allows you to use
rake test path/to/testto run a particular test/directory.
Use without adding to bundle
If you don't want Spring-related code checked into your source repository, it's possible to use Spring without adding to your Gemfile. However, using Spring binstubs without adding Spring to the Gemfile is not supported.
To use Spring like this, do a
gem install spring and then prefix
spring. For example, rather than running
spring rake -T.
Temporarily disabling Spring
If you're using Spring binstubs, but temporarily don't want commands to
run through Spring, set the
DISABLE_SPRING environment variable.
Spring uses Rails' class reloading mechanism
ActiveSupport::Dependencies) to keep your code up to date between
test runs. This is the same mechanism which allows you to see changes
during development when you refresh the page. However, you may never
have used this mechanism with your
test environment before, and this
can cause problems.
It's important to realise that code reloading means that the constants in your application are different objects after files have changed:
$ bin/rails runner 'puts User.object_id' 70127987886040 $ touch app/models/user.rb $ bin/rails runner 'puts User.object_id' 70127976764620
Suppose you have an initializer
USER_CLASS = User
This saves off the first version of the
User class, which will not
be the same object as
User after the code has been reloaded:
$ bin/rails runner 'puts User == USER_CLASS' true $ touch app/models/user.rb $ bin/rails runner 'puts User == USER_CLASS' false
So to avoid this problem, don't save off references to application constants in your initialization code.
Using Spring with a containerized development environment
Spring will read
config/spring.rb for custom
settings. Note that
~/.spring.rb is loaded before bundler, but
config/spring.rb is loaded after bundler. So if you have any
spring-commands-* gems installed that you want to be available in all
projects without having to be added to the project's Gemfile, require
them in your
config/spring_client.rb is also loaded before bundler and before a
server process is started, it can be used to add new top-level commands.
Spring must know how to find your Rails application. If you have a normal app everything works out of the box. If you are working on a project with a special setup (an engine for example), you must tell Spring where your app is located:
Spring.application_root = './test/dummy'
Running code before forking
There is no
Spring.before_fork callback. To run something before the
fork, you can place it in
config/spring.rb or in any of the files
which get run when your application initializes, such as
Running code after forking
You might want to run code after Spring forked off the process but
before the actual command is run. You might want to use an
after_fork callback if you have to connect to an external service,
do some general cleanup or set up dynamic configuration.
Spring.after_fork do # run arbitrary code end
If you want to register multiple callbacks you can simply call
Spring.after_fork multiple times with different blocks.
Watching files and directories
Spring will automatically detect file changes to any file loaded when the server boots. Changes will cause the affected environments to be restarted.
If there are additional files or directories which should trigger an
application restart, you can specify them with
By default Spring polls the filesystem for changes once every 0.2 seconds. This method requires zero configuration, but if you find that it's using too much CPU, then you can use event-based file system listening by installing the spring-watcher-listen gem.
To disable the "Running via Spring preloader" message which is shown each time a command runs:
Spring.quiet = true
The following environment variables are used by Spring:
DISABLE_SPRING- If set, Spring will be bypassed and your application will boot in a foreground process
SPRING_LOG- The path to a file which Spring will write log messages to.
SPRING_TMP_PATH- The directory where Spring should write its temporary files (a pidfile and a socket). By default we use the
XDG_RUNTIME_DIRenvironment variable, or else
Dir.tmpdir, and then create a directory in that named
spring-$UID. We don't use your Rails application's
tmp/directory because that may be on a filesystem which doesn't support UNIX sockets.
SPRING_APPLICATION_ID- Used to identify distinct Rails applications. By default it is an MD5 hash of the current
RUBY_VERSION, and the path to your Rails project root.
SPRING_SOCKET- The path which should be used for the UNIX socket which Spring uses to communicate with the long-running Spring server process. By default this is
SPRING_PIDFILE- The path which should be used to store the pid of the long-running Spring server process. By default this is related to the socket path; if the socket path is
/foo/bar/spring.sockthe pidfile will be
SPRING_SERVER_COMMAND- The command to run to start up the Spring server when it is not already running. Defaults to
spring _[version]_ server --background.
If you want to get more information about what Spring is doing, you can run Spring explicitly in a separate terminal:
$ spring server
Logging output will be printed to stdout. You can also send log output
to a file with the
SPRING_LOG environment variable.