Rails – Integrate Autotest and RSpec in Linux

I am learning Rails 3 @ Ruby on Rails Tutorial by Michael Hartl. A very nice and detail tutorial with many examples for beginners. Highly recommended.

But i got some problems when i tried to setup the Autotest for the RSpec framework. Autotest is a continuous testing tool which run the test suite automatically based on the files you have changed. RSpec is a Behavior Driven Development (BDD) framework for Ruby. After a few hours of struggling, i finally made it work.

1. Create a new Rails project without the default Test::Unit framework.

  • rails new sample_app -T


2. Edit the project Gemfile as follow

source 'http://rubygems.org'

gem 'rails', '3.0.1'
gem 'sqlite3-ruby', '1.3.2',  :require => 'sqlite3'

group :development do
  gem 'rspec-rails', '2.2.1'

group :test do
  gem 'rspec', '2.2.0'
  gem 'webrat', '0.7.2'
  gem 'autotest', '4.4.4'
  gem 'redgreen', '1.2.2'
  gem 'test-unit', '2.1.1'


3. Install the dependencies which is listed in the Gemfile

  • bundle install


4. Create the files of RSpec

  • rails generate rspec:install


5. Create the Pages controller with 2 views named as home and contact

  • rails generate controller Pages home contact


6. Remove the view and helper tests which we don’t need in the example.

  • rm -rf spec/views
  • rm -rf spec/helpers


7. Run the test cases in the spec folder to check if RSpec could be run without problem

  • rspec spec/


8. We can now proceed to the Autotest setup. Install the libnotify-bin for showing the popup about the test result in GNOME.

  • sudo apt-get install libnotify-bin


9. Create the Autotest configuration file under the user home directory.

gem 'redgreen'
require 'autotest/timestamp'

module Autotest::GnomeNotify
  def self.notify title, msg, img
    system "notify-send '#{title}' '#{msg}' -i #{img} -t 3000"

  Autotest.add_hook :ran_command do |at|
    image_root = "~/.autotest_images"
    results = [at.results].flatten.join("\n")
    output = results.slice(/(\d+)\sexamples?,\s(\d+)\sfailures?(,\s(\d+)\spending?|)/)
    full_sentence, green, failures, garbage, pending = $~.to_a.map(&:to_i)
    if output
      if failures > 0
        notify "FAIL", "#{output}", "#{image_root}/fail.png"
      elsif pending > 0
        notify "Pending", "#{output}", "#{image_root}/pending.png"
        notify "Pass", "#{output}", "#{image_root}/pass.png"


10. Also create a ~/.autotest_images folder and save the following 3 pictures inside it.


11. Run the Autotest now

  • bundle exec autotest

12. A pop up message is promoted whenever the tests are completed. but i don’t know how to fix the warning as highlighted in the following picture before the test started.

*The above warning is fixed if the Zentest gem does not exist. (Update @ 2010-11-19)

There is an alternative way to setup the Autotest by using the autotest-notification gem. Please refer to Growl style images for autotest-notification using Ubuntu 10.04 for more information.

Done and enjoy the Ruby and Rails. =)

Update @ 2010-11-19

  • Remove the installations of ZenTest and Redgreen gems. Actually the required gems will be installed when running bundle install. Moreover, the warning during the Autotest run is fixed if the ZenTest gem does not exist. Thanks bunwich very much for finding the solution.
  • For Fedora user, install libnotify instead of libnotify-bin. Thanks bunwich again. =)
  • Updated the Autotest version in Gemfile from 4.4.2 to 4.4.4.

Update @ 2010-12-02
Update the Gem version to solve the Failure/Error: Unable to find matching line from backtrace stack level too deep error when running rspec test.

  • rspec-rails – from 2.1.0 to 2.2.1
  • rspec – from 2.1.0 to 2.2.0

If you want to remain using version 2.1.0, then change the webrat version from 0.7.2 to 0.7.1.




12 thoughts on “Rails – Integrate Autotest and RSpec in Linux”

  1. I removed zentest and the warnings disappeared.

    Thanks worked well on fedora 14. One exception was on fedora libnotify-bin is just called libnotify.



  2. Awesome explanation!!! I am going thru the same tutorial book and had to struggle with tests for a while too.
    Thanks a lot!


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