[rspec-users] Spec/Test Speed

Scott Taylor mailing_lists at railsnewbie.com
Sun Oct 7 01:24:10 EDT 2007

On Oct 7, 2007, at 12:31 AM, Chad Humphries wrote:

> Scott,
> I don't really have a lot to contribute on how to make it faster,
> other than to outline what we've been doing on our projects.
> On one of our current projects we have the following 2570 examples
> that run in ~70 seconds on our pairing stations (mac minis, 1.83

I assume your "pairing stations" are two separate mac-minis, in which  
you practice pair programming?  Or is this a cluster of two mac-minis?

But this sounds great - 70 seconds for 2500 specs.  How many of those  
are model specs (that hit the database)?

> c2d).  In general across our various machines is at or a little more
> than a minute for specs for controllers, models, helpers, lib, views,
> and plugins.   Our Story suite takes longer, but it's still under
> development so I don't really count it at this point.   We have Ruby
> 1.8.6 installed from MacPorts on all machines, as well as MySQL 5.
> (current as of a month ago) from macports.
> We make good use of mocking and stubbing through our controller
> tests, and little use of fixtures.  We primarily use the
> spec_attribute_helper (or factory method) as Luke Redpath and Dan
> Manges have outlined in their respective blog articles.     I've been
> looking at deep test, or possible spec_distributed as a way to speed
> things up more.   Our main issue is our precommit task (rake cruise

The factory method (or attribute_helper) still hits the database.  I  
don't see it as any sort of performance gain. In fact, I've even  
developed a plugin around the Factory idea, and it was only when I  
started using it in all of my tests that the speed really started to  
affect me (I was using mocking/stubbing, with much frustration prior  
to that point).  But to me it's pretty clear the plugin (or the  
factory) is not the problem - the hit is the database.  DHH saw this  
hit, and since they were using fixtures,he found that creating the  
fixtures, and then wrapping each test in a transaction was a huge  
performance gain.  I wonder if the same would be true with setups/ 

The obvious thing to do to solve the performance problem is to remove  
the hit to the database.  The question is: At what level of  
abstraction should this be done?  The one camp (which would include  
fellows like Jay Fields), would mock/stub everything they don't  
write.  For me, I see testing as more than testing - it's the  
documentation to my code which never lies to me (this documentation  
is so good, that I can give it to my boss, who is not a programmer).   
For that reason (testing is not about testing), I could never stub/ 
mock AR inline - that is, in the tests themselves (although if I had  
some sort of external plugin to do this for me, I may feel  
differently about it).

The other alternatives seem to be: b) writing a sql parser, and c)  
speeding up the database (deeptest, in-memory databases, more  
hardware, etc).  The sql parser is a big job, and speeding up the  
database doesn't seem to give the performance improvement that I'm  
looking for.

As for deeptest, I wouldn't mind helping out with getting it to work  
for rspec (email me off-list at scott at railsnewbie.com, if you are  
interested in my help).  I haven't explored spec_distributed at all  
(in fact, I didn't even know it existed, although I had a similar  
thought a few days ago).

> which our ci server also runs) executes rcov to test for full
> coverage and adds 15-25 seconds to the whole thing bringing it up to
> a minute and a half.

Coverage is not a big point for me.  I'm happy with running rcov only  
once a week, assuming that I have 100% right now, and I develop  
everything test-first.  Right now I'm no where near 100%, so I'm not  
too worried about it.



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