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Testing with Rspec in Ruby

Welcome back to our informational series, leaning towards programming in Ruby. In the last piece, we dove into the world of Ruby Gems, their structure, and how to practically apply them to enhance your Ruby applications. Here, we will carry forward this learning and shift our focus to an important aspect – ruby testing with Rspec.

What is RSpec?

RSpec is a unit test framework for the Ruby programming language. Born under the banner of Behaviour-Driven Development (BDD), it is designed to make test-driven development a productive and enjoyable experience.

A Mapping to Practicality

Let’s imagine you’re building an e-commerce platform for a tech startup. RSpec could help you create expected behavior in the shopping cart class, ensuring that items can be added, retrieved, and deleted seamlessly. RSpec aids in exploring and asserting critical functionalities.

Understanding Its Importance

RSpec brings a unique perspective to the testing process. It enforces the habit of writing tests first and production code later, mimicking real-world conditions and focusing on customer’s perspectives, thus upholding the principles of BDD.

Insight into RSpec Syntax

Rspec uses ‘describe’ and ‘it’ methods, which take a string argument and a block argument. The string is a description of what the method is testing, and the block is the test code itself.

How It Differs?

Conventional testing methods only fix bugs, but RSpec goes beyond, helping developers clearly define application behavior, resulting in better-designed software and smoother functionality.

Writing Your First RSpec Test

RSpec is about writing examples of how your code should behave, describing the behavior in plain English. Let’s start writing our first example:

describe 'An ideal shopping cart' do
  it 'allows items to be added' do
    cart = Cart.new
    hamper = Product.new('Fruit Hamper')
    expect(cart.items).to include(hamper)

This simple example creates a new instance of ‘Cart’, initializes a ‘Product’, and adds it to ‘Cart’. Then it expects when checking the items in ‘Cart’, to include ‘Product’ added.

Running the Test

To run the test, just type ‘rspec‘ into the terminal, making sure you are running it in the proper directory.

RSpec uses colors to indicate which tests passed and which failed. If a test fails, it shows a detailed reason for it, helping you get to the root of the problem and fix it quickly.

The Significance of Failing First

RSpec promotes the concept of ‘red, green, refactor’. You should first write a test that fails (red), make it pass by implementing the function (green), and then refactor your code for optimization.

Pitfalls to Avoid

While RSpec is a powerful tool, there are common traps beginners fall into:

Overusing before Hooks

The ‘before’ hook syntax may seem like an efficient way to set things up, but if overused can lead to tests that are hard to read and understand. It is best to use it sparingly.

Not Isolating Tests

The state related to one test must not affect another. Be sure to clean up after each test run.

Focusing on Code Coverage

100% code coverage may seem a mighty goal but focusing only on these may lead to poor quality tests. Aim for comprehensive and meaningful tests.

Ignoring Failing Tests

Every failing test is Ruby’s way of telling that something’s wrong. Never ignore them.


Learning RSpec will give you a more solid and robust testing pattern providing surety in every line of code you write. It enables you to create applications that are flexible, scalable, and maintainable.

In our upcoming articles, let’s continue to delve deeper into this critical ruby testing library.

Feel free to go back and explore the previous article on Ruby Gems if you missed it.


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