[rspec-users] Integrate or isolate views?

Ben Mabey ben at benmabey.com
Sun Jun 28 16:33:45 EDT 2009

Jesse Crockett wrote:
> Ben Mabey wrote:
>> On Jun 28, 2009, at 8:32 AM, Jesse Crockett wrote:
>>> When I use integrate_views, can I write view spec in what would
>>> otherwise be isolated controller spec?
>> Correct, by default RSpec's controller specs will not render the
>> view.  This allows you to test the controller and view in complete
>> isolation.  By turning on integrate_views you can specify what the
>> rendered view should contain at the same time.  If you were to do
>> outside-in dev starting from the view you would start out by writing
>> an isolated view spec.  That spec would say that such and such would
>> be displayed.  This would in turn prompt you to assign something to
>> that view for it to be rendered.  That is then your signal that the
>> controller needs to assign that object.  So, you go up a level and
>> make sure that the controller action is assigning the needed object
>> for the view.  That object will most likely have to answer to some
>> methods used in the view so that prompts you to start writing examples
>> on the model level.  Isolation has it's benefits, however an
>> integration test (i.e. Cucumber scenario) is really needed to make
>> sure these parts are all working together as expected.
>>> I read that I'm "encouraged" to do these in isolation, but IMHO the
>>> chapter on spec'ing views is not very convincing in its own right, it
>>> tells me that it's good, but doesn't show me as much, compared to the
>>> examples and descriptions of circumstance that make several other
>>> chapters very convincing.
>> FWIW Jesse, you are not alone on this list in thinking that view specs
>> are not that valuable.  A lot of people share your opinion, and I
>> think Cucumber is generally used to specify the views the majority of
>> the time.  This enables you to specify your controllers in isolation
>> since your Cucumber features are cutting through the entire stack. 
> I gather that you are saying a balance of cucumber scenarios in tandem 
> with spec'ing controllers and models in isolation is a reasonable 
> conclusion and equally reasonable path to move forward?

Yes, IME this has worked well.
>> I personally think  view specs are a very nice tool to have available,
>> but I would only use them on complex views.  By complex I don't mean
>> riddled with logic, but a view that has a lot of stuff going on which
>> is hard to set up all in one integration test (or Cucumber scenario).
>> Since the majority of views are very simple then verifying them just
>> in Cucumber is good enough, IMO.
>> -Ben
> I gather that you are affirming that adequate testing of controllers and 
> models in isolation as presscribed the the Rspec Book can be 
> accomplished without spec'ing the views in the same isolation, but 
> instead by using 'integrate_views' with adequate cucumber scenarios?

The last part of your sentence is confusing me: "but instead by using 
'integrate_views' with adequate cucumber scenarios?".  There is no 
"integrate_views" option in Cucumber as views are always rendered.  When 
I am using Cucumber I don't see the need to be using 'integrate_views' 
in my controller specs either. 

Keep in mind that I'm not affirming anything as a hard rule, but rather 
stating a guideline that I have gravitated towards in my past projects 
that were webapps.  You, like Sarah, may see enough value provided by 
view specs to warrant them.  I would encourage you to try them and then 
judge for yourself and the specific project you are working on.  If you 
don't get any value out of them then you can stop but you will at least 
know how to do it when a situation arises that seems better fit for them.


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