[rspec-users] Working outside-in with Cucumber and RSpec

Pat Maddox pergesu at gmail.com
Mon Oct 27 13:20:31 EDT 2008

On Mon, Oct 27, 2008 at 9:35 AM, Pat Maddox <pergesu at gmail.com> wrote:
> Matt Wynne <matt at mattwynne.net> writes:
>> Pat - are you going solo too?
> Nope, I'm trying to teach RSpec/BDD to an organization that currently
> doesn't use it and has 0% test coverage.  It's interesting, to say the
> least.  They're good devs, but even so, the effects of not writing tests
> first (or even at all) are painfully evident when trying to get the
> codebase under test, and especially to change stuff.  Really puts your
> "working effectively with legacy code" chops to work :)

One major point which I failed to make is that a heavily determining
factor for me is confidence.  How much confidence does a new test
inspire?  Clearly, a full-stack acceptance test ought to inspire a
good deal of confidence.  A mocked-out unit test considerably less so.

As I've said before, I see three major benefits to unit tests:
* Drive the design of objects
* Provide regression tests
* Serve as examples of how to use the code

Mock based controller specs don't provide as much regression value as
acceptance tests, unless you've got a bunch of weird little pathways
that you want to unit test.  But most Rails apps these days aren't
like that - we have REST + "skinny controller / fat model" to thank
for that.

Ben, I think it was you who mentioned that you like using mocks in
controller specs because it helps with interface discovery.  While I
agree that mocks can be a great tool for interface discovery, I'm
finding that to be decreasingly important in controllers.  They're
just so damn simple, for the most part.  Remember, mocks are just one
of the tools we use to improve design.  Refactoring is another one.
I've found that when writing controllers, mocks provide little upfront
design value, and the bulk of design value I get comes from

Now, I will add that I've written a crapload of controller specs over
the last few years, and have developed a personal style that minimizes
logic in the controllers.  So I don't generally spend a lot of brain
cycles on controller design.  They become patterns...think Cypher from
the Matrix: "all I see is blonde, brunette, redhead..."

When it comes to controllers specs, mocks provide the most value by
isolating from the model and db - the specs run faster, and you don't
have to worry about model validations.  But if you minimize controller
logic, you can write acceptance tests that give you confidence that
your controllers work, and then controller specs become unnecessary


More information about the rspec-users mailing list