[rspec-users] How To Drive Out AJAX Functionality in a Rails View

Mike Doel mike at mikedoel.com
Tue May 12 10:04:33 EDT 2009

On May 12, 2009, at 8:36 AM, Lee Longmore wrote:

> I am new to RSpec and have just started to drive out my first Rails  
> view using a spec. I have used the The RSpec Book (beta) to do the  
> basic stuff like testing for the presence of a field but I am unsure  
> where to start for driving out some AJAX functionality.

Check out Adam McCrea's fork of webrat:


It includes a submit_form_via_ajax method that I use to do this.  It  
basically just forces Rails into treating the form request as asking  
for a .js response.  There are limitations on what you can do with the  
response (e.g. inspecting the entire page is no longer possible), but  
you are able to look at the response body of the call and match it  
against regular expressions.  So, I use features like:

     When I go to the homepage
     And I use a search term of "foo"
     And I press "search"
     And the edit_search_form is submitted via ajax
     Then the search results should have 2 bars

with the critical step like:

When /^the (.+) is submitted via ajax$/ do |form|
   submit_form_via_ajax form

I've left out a couple of things here (in particular, a step that  
fills in form fields to mimic javascript action), but this basic idea  
makes it possible to have acceptance tests for ajax based features  
that are written in the language of the customer and yet operate  
quickly (i.e. you don't need to have selenium or something else like  
that involved to run this).

The drawback of course is that it's not really exercising the full end- 
to-end system.  While I understand that this is frowned upon (and for  
good reason), in my case, I have decided that the speed of the tests  
(and thus my willingness to use them) makes up for the drawbacks  
involved.  To limit my exposure, I'm working on including javascript  
unit tests that will ensure that the behavior I stub out above  
actually works as expected.

Mike Doel

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