David Chelimsky

random thoughtlessness

RSpec-1.1.2 and ZenTest-3.8.0

The RSpec-1.1.2 release includes changes to keep RSpec compatible with autotest in ZenTest-3.8.0. This new ZenTest release boasts an improved cascading configuration model that works well for subclasses (like those that ship with RSpec) and allows users to override the mappings of specs (or tests) to code as well as the list of files that get ignored by autotest.

To support this, Autotest now loads the following files in the following order:


This allows RSpec (or any other library) to override defaults set in Autotest, and then provides users both generic (~/.autotest) and project specific (./.autotest) control over the mappings and exceptions.

How can you take advantage of this?

When autotest begins to run, it calls its :initialize hook. This hook is exposed by the add_hook method. You can use this to access the mappings and exceptions using the following methods on Autotest:

add_mapping(regexp, proc)



The add_mapping method adds a key/value pair to a hash that maps regexps to procs. Whenever autotest senses that a file is touched, it looks for the regexp that matches the file name and the runs all the files returned by the associated proc.

Imagine you’re working on a shopping cart app. You have some currency conversion behaviour in a Product model that you’d like to extract to an acts_as_currency plugin, and you want autotest to observe the process. You might add a mapping like this to .autotest:

Autotest.add_hook :initialize do |at|
at.add_mapping(%r%^plugins/acts_as_currency/lib/.*\.rb$%) {
  at.files_matching %r%^spec/models/product_spec\.rb$% +
  at.files_matching %r%^plugins/acts_as_currency/spec/.*_spec\.rb$%

In this case, a change to any of the files in the plugin’s lib directory would cause all the plugins specs to run, as well as the spec for the Product model.


The add_exception method adds paths to a list of paths that Autotest ignores.

I like to run autotest in verbose mode (autotest -v) because it tells me when I change a file that it doesn’t know what to do with. The drawback is that it wants to tell me every time I commit because files in the .svn/.hg/.git directories change. So I’ve got these all listed as exceptions in my ~/.autotest file, along with assorted others:

Autotest.add_hook :initialize do |at|
%w{.svn .hg .git}.each {|exception|at.add_exception(exception)}

Note that autotest compiles this list to a Regexp with no anchors, so .hgignore and .gitignore would also get ignored in this case.

Cascading config and granular control

One of the coolest changes in ZenTest-3.8.0 is that autotest loads both ~/.autotest and ./.autotest. So now you can have the hooks you like on every project (like growl notifation) all in one place and still have project specific settings.

This also allows you to set up global mappings/exceptions and modify them at the project level. See Autotest’s RDoc for more info.