[rspec-users] The problem with learning RSpec

Ben Mabey ben at benmabey.com
Fri Jun 12 10:36:32 EDT 2009

> I'm rambling now, and I've spent *way* too much of my workday on this
> message, so I'll just summarize:
> * Some easy things are complicated in RSpec;
> * Incomplete understanding of RSpec and a framework being spec'ed can
> create learning deadlock;
> * Novices need different answers than competent practitioners;
> * The community as a whole should be aware and respectful of the
> growth curve difficulty.
> If anyone had the patience to read this far, any thoughts?  Am I
> identifying real issues, or am I just full of hot air?

Hi Stephen,
I did in fact read your entire message, but I'm running out of time so 
I'm afraid I can't reply with the thoughtful response that it deserves.  
Here is my brief gut reaction.. I totally agree about your observation 
WRT the Dreyfus model.  I've thought about how how it relates to TDD/BDD 
in the past and have made similar conclusions.  I think you are spot on 
about an expert not being able to really answer a novice's question very 
well.. because they are suffering from the "curse of knowledge" and it 
is hard to remember what it was like without all that knowledge. 
In general though I don't know if I really see all of this as a problem 
specific to RSpec.  The problem is that many people coming to RSpec are 
not just RSpec novices but are in fact TDD novices (and Rails, and Ruby 
novices too boot at times as well!).   TDD, like you said, is a skill 
apart from programming and is really separate from learning the 
mechanics of RSpec.  A well practiced TDDer without much Ruby experience 
is in a much better position to use RSpec effectively than an 
experienced Ruby dev with no TDD experience.  So if the real problem is 
that people don't know TDD/BDD I think outside of the RSpec community 
there are a lot of resources to draw on.  There are great TDD books in 
addition to lists dedicated to TDD, presentations on TDD, etc...  
Perhaps one step would be to link to these resources?  I also agree with 
Rick in that it just takes experience to learn this stuff since the 
answers to questions are so context specific.  Anyways, I gotta run, but 
I those were some of the thoughts I had.


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