[rspec-users] [BDD] View specs and cucumber -- duplication of effort?

Andrew Premdas apremdas at gmail.com
Wed Nov 4 10:56:02 EST 2009


2009/10/29 nruth <nick.rutherford at gmail.com>

> Hi Guys
>
> I'm going to put the cat amongst the pigeons here in the hope of some
> clarity falling out of the sky on me.
> My question is this: In a world with Cucumber what is the value of
> view specs?
>
> In the community (railscamp, for example) there are a fair number of
> people using Cucumber and skipping view specs, but still speccing
> controllers, models, tricky view helpers and so on.
>
> Why? Because they don't find them helpful. Indeed they are seen as a
> waste of time (money) not only duplicating Cucumber coverage, but also
> introducing a high-maintenance example group which designers (who
> don't run tests) will frequently break.
>
> These people aren't stupid. They're producing working apps. I don't
> claim that their work cycle is perfect: this is about utility and
> efficiency, or about being lazy or avoiding boredom, if you prefer.
>
> I've been working in a mixed environment, with an existing project
> which uses rspec and cucumber (sans view specs) and my own green field
> app for a different client.
> I've been following the BDD approach prescribed by the RSpec book (or
> so I think). This works, and has produced a lot of LOC.
>
> I've not worried, as it has given me plenty of practice with the
> various arms of rspec, webrat, and other tools.
> Now that I'm more comfortable with them things are starting to get
> tiresome, especially duplication, and I'm worried I'm creating a
> monolith. Too many specs => TLDR ?
>
> What should I try using view specs for? Why are they better than
> cucumber for this?
>
> "Driving views through examples helps us think about what the view
> needs in order for it to do its job. It encourages us to write the
> code we wish we had to fulfil those needs."
>
> I'm not sure how this is any different to what I do in the outer
> circle with Cucumber. If I write an explicit scenario like
> http://gist.github.com/221004 then I already know what the view needs
> to let me do.
>
> If I write something more broad-brush (which you will do, if quickly
> sketching out features during a design meeting) like "When I add a
> page link" I have to then define that step so it goes red (or, heaven
> forbid, green). But to write that step definition I have to know how I
> can interact with the page. This example actually comes from a broad-
> brush step being expanded in the scenario itself rather than hiding it
> away in a step definition, but that's a different subject.
>
> I'm specifying the page's behaviour in the scenario, or in the step
> definition. Why duplicate this process with a view spec?
>
> I keep coming back to the introduction of chapter 23 in the RSpec book
> but don't seem to be getting anywhere from it.
>
> For the time being I'm going to keep writing view specs, but try to
> make them lighter and cut some of the dead wood by describing unusual
> or interesting behaviour rather than all behaviour.
>
> I'd love to hear your thoughts.
>
> Regards
>
> Nick
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>

Currently I don't do view specs, but I'm beginning to see a use for them.
This is all to do with a recent change change in my thinking about features.
In addition to all the other things features do, I am now seeing them as a
map to what the "business" wants from the application. This map works best
if it is clear and simple (a bit like the London tube map). Putting lots of
view details in the features (and I should see a wibble field etc. ...)
pollutes this map with clutter that is not relevant to the "business"
context. So view specs seem like a really good place to spec all this
detail.

Another benefit of this is that the view specs might end up as another map
that is useful to designers and front end developers.

I've been thinking about features, specs and even code as maps recently. It
provides a really good explanation of why names and description are so
important.

Andrew
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