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Shoulda - Making tests easy on the fingers and eyes

Shoulda makes it easy to write elegant, understandable, and maintainable tests. Shoulda consists of test macros, assertions, and helpers added on to the Test::Unit framework. It's fully compatible with your existing tests, and requires no retooling to use.


#context and #should give you RSpec like test blocks. In addition, you get nested contexts and a much more readable syntax.


Generate hundreds of lines of Controller and ActiveRecord tests with these powerful macros. They get you started quickly, and can help you ensure that your application is conforming to best practices.


Many common rails testing idioms have been distilled into a set of useful assertions.


Rspec-compatible matchers providing the same tests as Shoulda macros.


Context Helpers (Shoulda::Context)

Stop killing your fingers with all of those underscores… Name your tests with plain sentences!

class UserTest < Test::Unit::TestCase
  context "A User instance" do
    setup do
      @user = User.find(:first)

    should "return its full name" do
      assert_equal 'John Doe', @user.full_name

    context "with a profile" do
      setup do
        @user.profile = Profile.find(:first)

      should "return true when sent #has_profile?" do
        assert @user.has_profile?

Produces the following test methods:

"test: A User instance should return its full name."
"test: A User instance with a profile should return true when sent #has_profile?."

So readable!

ActiveRecord Tests (Shoulda::ActiveRecord::Macros)

Quick macro tests for your ActiveRecord associations and validations:

class PostTest < Test::Unit::TestCase
  fixtures :all

  should_belong_to :user
  should_have_many :tags, :through => :taggings

  should_validate_uniqueness_of :title
  should_validate_presence_of :body, :message => /wtf/
  should_validate_presence_of :title
  should_validate_numericality_of :user_id

class UserTest < Test::Unit::TestCase
  should_have_many :posts

  should_not_allow_values_for :email, "blah", "b lah"
  should_allow_values_for :email, "", ""
  should_ensure_length_in_range :email, 1..100
  should_ensure_value_in_range :age, 1..100
  should_not_allow_mass_assignment_of :password

Makes TDD so much easier.

Controller Tests (Shoulda::Controller::Macros)

Macros to test the most common controller patterns…

class PostsControllerTest < ActionController::TestCase
  context "on GET to :show for first record" do
    setup do
      get :show, :id => 1

    should_assign_to :user
    should_respond_with :success
    should_render_template :show

    should "do something else really cool" do
      assert_equal 1, assigns(:user).id

Helpful Assertions (Shoulda::Assertions)

More to come here, but have fun with what's there.

assert_same_elements([:a, :b, :c], [:c, :a, :b])
assert_contains(['a', '1'], /\d/)
assert_contains(['a', '1'], 'a')

3rd Party and Application Specific Macros

Any *.rb file under RAILS_ROOT/test/shoulda_macros/ or vendor/(plugins|gems)/gem_name/shoulda_macros/ will be automatically required when you run your tests. This allows you to distribute macros with your plugins, or to organize the macros inside your application. Remember to add your macro to Test::Unit::TestCase in the macro file:

# test/shoulda_macros/security.rb
class Test::Unit::TestCase
  def self.should_be_denied(opts = {})
    should_set_the_flash_to(opts[:flash] || /Please log in/i)
    should_redirect_to(opts[:redirect]   || 'login_url')

Rails Installation (Test::Unit)

As a Gem

Use this if you prefer to use versioned releases of shoulda. Specify the gem dependency in your config/environment.rb file: do |config|
  config.gem "thoughtbot-shoulda", :lib => "shoulda", :source => ""


$ rake gems:install
$ rake gems:unpack

As a Plugin

Use this if you prefer to use the edge version of shoulda:

$ script/plugin install git://

As a Plugin (using git submodules)

Use this if you prefer the idea of being able to easily switch between using edge or a tagged version of shoulda:

$ git submodule add git:// vendor/plugins/shoulda

Rails Installation (RSpec)

If you're using Shoulda with RSpec, we recommend that you add config.gem lines for RSpec and Shoulda in your config/environment/test.rb file, but do not ask Rails to load the RSpec and Shoulda libraries:

config.gem 'rspec', :lib => false
config.gem 'rspec-rails', :lib => false
config.gem 'thoughtbot-shoulda',
           :lib => false,
           :source => ''

Then require shoulda from your spec/spec_helper.rb file, before Spec::Runner is configured:

# requires for RSpec
require 'shoulda'
Spec::Runner.configure do |config|
# ...

You should not need to require anything besides the top-level shoulda library.


Shoulda is maintained by Tammer Saleh, and is funded by Thoughtbot, inc.


Shoulda is Copyright © 2006-2008 Tammer Saleh, Thoughtbot. It is free software, and may be redistributed under the terms specified in the MIT-LICENSE file.

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