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Getting Started

Update Your Gemfile

If you're using Rails, you'll need to upgrade factory_girl_rails to the latest RC:

gem "factory_girl_rails", "~> 1.1"

If you're not using Rails, you'll just have to change the required version of factory_girl:

gem "factory_girl", "~> 2.0.0"

Once your Gemfile is updated, you'll want to update your bundle.

Defining factories

Each factory has a name and a set of attributes. The name is used to guess the class of the object by default, but it's possible to explicitly specify it:

# This will guess the User class
FactoryGirl.define do
  factory :user do
    first_name 'John'
    last_name  'Doe'
    admin false

  # This will use the User class (Admin would have been guessed)
  factory :admin, :class => User do
    first_name 'Admin'
    last_name  'User'
    admin true

  # The same, but using a string instead of class constant
  factory :admin, :class => 'user' do
    first_name 'Admin'
    last_name  'User'
    admin true

It is highly recommended that you have one factory for each class that provides the simplest set of attributes necessary to create an instance of that class. If you're creating ActiveRecord objects, that means that you should only provide attributes that are required through validations and that do not have defaults. Other factories can be created through inheritance to cover common scenarios for each class.

Attempting to define multiple factories with the same name will raise an error.

Factories can be defined anywhere, but will be automatically loaded if they are defined in files at the following locations:


Using factories

factory_girl supports several different build strategies: build, create, attributes_for and stub:

# Returns a User instance that's not saved
user =

# Returns a saved User instance
user = FactoryGirl.create(:user)

# Returns a hash of attributes that can be used to build a User instance
attrs = FactoryGirl.attributes_for(:user)

# Returns an object with all defined attributes stubbed out
stub = FactoryGirl.stub(:user)

No matter which strategy is used, it's possible to override the defined attributes by passing a hash:

# Build a User instance and override the first_name property
user =, :first_name => 'Joe')
# => "Joe"

If repeating "FactoryGirl" is too verbose for you, you can mix the syntax methods in:

# rspec
RSpec.configure do |config|
  config.include Factory::Syntax::Methods

# Test::Unit
class Test::Unit::TestCase
  include Factory::Syntax::Methods

This would allow you to write:

describe User, "#full_name" do
  subject { create(:user, :first_name => "John", :last_name => "Doe") }

  its(:full_name) { should == "John Doe" }

Lazy Attributes

Most factory attributes can be added using static values that are evaluated when the factory is defined, but some attributes (such as associations and other attributes that must be dynamically generated) will need values assigned each time an instance is generated. These "lazy" attributes can be added by passing a block instead of a parameter:

factory :user do
  # ...
  activation_code { User.generate_activation_code }
  date_of_birth   { 21.years.ago }


Aliases allow you to use named associations more easily.

factory :user, :aliases => [:author, :commenter] do
  first_name    "John"
  last_name     "Doe"
  date_of_birth { 18.years.ago }

factory :post do
  # instead of
  # association :author, :factory => :user
  title "How to read a book effectively"
  body  "There are five steps involved."

factory :comment do
  # instead of
  # association :commenter, :factory => :user
  body "Great article!"

Dependent Attributes

Attributes can be based on the values of other attributes using the proxy that is yielded to lazy attribute blocks:

factory :user do
  first_name 'Joe'
  last_name  'Blow'
  email { "#{first_name}.#{last_name}".downcase }

FactoryGirl.create(:user, :last_name => 'Doe').email
# => ""


It's possbile to set up associations within factories. If the factory name is the same as the association name, the factory name can be left out.

factory :post do
  # ...

You can also specify a different factory or override attributes:

factory :post do
  # ...
  association :author, :factory => :user, :last_name => 'Writely'

The behavior of the association method varies depending on the build strategy used for the parent object.

# Builds and saves a User and a Post
post = FactoryGirl.create(:post)
post.new_record?       # => false # => false

# Builds and saves a User, and then builds but does not save a Post
post =
post.new_record?       # => true # => false


You can easily create multiple factories for the same class without repeating common attributes by nesting factories:

factory :post do
  title 'A title'

  factory :approved_post do
    approved true

approved_post = FactoryGirl.create(:approved_post)
approved_post.title # => 'A title'
approved_post.approved # => true

You can also assign the parent explicitly:

factory :post do
  title 'A title'

factory :approved_post, :parent => :post do
  approved true

As mentioned above, it's good practice to define a basic factory for each class with only the attributes required to create it. Then, create more specific factories that inherit from this basic parent. Factory definitions are still code, so keep them DRY.


Unique values in a specific format (for example, e-mail addresses) can be generated using sequences. Sequences are defined by calling sequence in a definition block, and values in a sequence are generated by calling

# Defines a new sequence
FactoryGirl.define do
  sequence :email do |n|
end :email
# => "" :email
# => ""

Sequences can be used as attributes:

factory :user do

Or in lazy attributes:

factory :invite do
  invitee { }

And it's also possible to define an in-line sequence that is only used in a particular factory:

factory :user do
  sequence(:email) {|n| "person#{n}" }

You can also override the initial value:

factory :user do
  sequence(:email, 1000) {|n| "person#{n}" }

Without a block, the value will increment itself, starting at its initial value:

factory :post do


Factory_girl makes available three callbacks for injecting some code:

  • after_build - called after a factory is built (via
  • after_create - called after a factory is saved (via FactoryGirl.create)
  • after_stub - called after a factory is stubbed (via FactoryGirl.stub)


# Define a factory that calls the generate_hashed_password method after it is built
factory :user do
  after_build { |user| generate_hashed_password(user) }

Note that you'll have an instance of the user in the block. This can be useful.

You can also define multiple types of callbacks on the same factory:

factory :user do
  after_build  { |user| do_something_to(user) }
  after_create { |user| do_something_else_to(user) }

Factories can also define any number of the same kind of callback. These callbacks will be executed in the order they are specified:

factory :user do
  after_create { this_runs_first }
  after_create { then_this }

Calling FactoryGirl.create will invoke both after_build and after_create callbacks.

Also, like standard attributes, child factories will inherit (and can also define) callbacks from their parent factory.

Building or Creating Multiple Records

Sometimes, you'll want to create or build multiple instances of a factory at once.

built_users   = FactoryGirl.build_list(:user, 25)
created_users = FactoryGirl.create_list(:user, 25)

These methods will build or create a specific amount of factories and return them as an array. To set the attributes for each of the factories, you can pass in a hash as you normally would.

twenty_year_olds = FactoryGirl.build_list(:user, 25, :date_of_birth => 20.years.ago)

Cucumber Integration

factory_girl ships with step definitions that make calling factories from Cucumber easier. To use them:

require 'factory_girl/step_definitions' 

Alternate Syntaxes

Users' tastes for syntax vary dramatically, but most users are looking for a common feature set. Because of this factory_girl supports "syntax layers" which provide alternate interfaces. See Factory::Syntax for information about the various layers available. For example, the Machinist-style syntax is popular:

require 'factory_girl/syntax/blueprint'
require 'factory_girl/syntax/make'
require 'factory_girl/syntax/sham' {|n| "#{n}" }

User.blueprint do
  name  { 'Billy Bob' }
  email {  }

User.make(:name => 'Johnny')