[rspec-users] Smart mocks for ActiveRecord to speed up tests

Rodrigo Rosenfeld Rosas lbocseg at yahoo.com.br
Fri Apr 13 19:09:26 UTC 2012

Hello old friends, I'm getting back to Rails and Ruby programming full 
time again (Yay!)

I've stopped doing Rails programming to work with Grails in 2009 after 2 
years working with Rails due to a better job offer.

Since then I've changed my job once more, but still on Grails, but I 
found a critical bug in Grails more than a week ago that didn't seem to 
get much attention and is affecting the production system I maintain:


As I couldn't work around that bug and I can't see myself reading the 
Grails source code (a real mess!) I decided to take another approach 
that would allow me to get back to Rails programming.

I created a Devise / Warden strategy to send the cookies to the current 
system and it will return me the current logged in user. So I can set up 
Nginx to proxy some requests affected by the Grails bug to this new 
Rails application.

I've finished this action last Monday but when I was about to send all 
the hard work to the server lots of my directories were suddenly gone 
when I was using them. I still don't know what happened but I've 
replaced my hard-drive just in case, but it means I had to do all over 
again :(

Anyway, now I got it back to work but testing a single action (an 
update/insert one) will take about a full second to run using RSpec and 

I really don't like Grails but they had a great feature for unit 
testing. They were able to mock their domain class (that is how they 
call their models) in such a way that they can perform most of the 
operations you can do on real objects.

Of course it have another serious bug that will prevent me to use it in 
lots of cases:


But the idea is great as it works seamlessly like in a memory database.

So, I'd like to be able to keep my tests easy to read but avoid touching 
the database that much.

But my controller spec rely on lots of the setting of ActiveRecord for 
my models, like maximum calculations in before callbacks, custom foreign 
keys and depends: :delete_all in some has_many associations. Also I do 
also need a user object that Devise will accept on its sign_in helper 

Is there any place I could read more about writing faster tests without 
getting crazy writing so many mocks manually. For example, mocking a 
Grails domain class in a unit test would be as easy as:

class UserTests...

Then I'm able to do most operations using the Grails domain class API 
using the User mock.

Is there something like this for Rails and Rspec? Is there some way that 
I could set up FactoryGirl to use those mocks instead of hitting the 
database when I want to?

Am I going in the wrong direction here? If so, what would be the right 

Thanks in advance.

Glad to be part of the Ruby, Rails and Rspec community full-time again :D


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