Faster controller specs with sorcery

It looks like the entire Rails community is paying attention to the testing-is-not-enough-your-tests-should-be-fast mantra. And I have to say I agree with the topic. It’s good to focus on speeding up your tests because, as Corey Haines keeps saying, it will help you to focus on the design of your project. But still I’m convinced you have to concentrate on the design and business logic first. When your project grows enough and you get a slow test suite, you should focus on test speed. Practically, I’m just focusing on the good advice “premature optimization is evil”. Always, even when talking about tests.

Well, having said that, I want to talk about a simple addition I made to my rspec suite in my latest project. The project has a lot of controllers specs because it involves many different user types, specific rules and actions that users can or cannot do. The controllers specs were a bit slow. I wanted to speed them up a bit and remembered that I’d read somewhere about faster controller specs with devise. Actually, Kevin Rutherford wrote a great article on the topic and I said to myself I could have reproduced the technique with sorcery.

It’s a nice technique, think about it. Sorcery gives you a nice helper for controller spec and you can call it in the following way (supposing you’re using FactoryGirl):

login_user Factory(:user)

This way you’re hitting the database in many ways. Stuff like updating the fields last_login_at and last_activity_at of your users to the current time. Generally, this stuff is useless to your specific spec and you can get rid of it by mocking the user and passing it to the sorcery method. So, using this technique, you completely mock the user and don’t hit the database at all.

Actually I didn’t know how many things I had to mock to get it working nicely with the sorcery helper but I came up with a nice technique. If you do something like:

user = mock_model(User, email:')


You’ll probably get an error like:

Mock "User_1001" received unexpected message :foo_method with (:baz, Sun, 22 Jan 2012 19:26:03 UTC +00:00)

And it’s nice because this error is telling you how the third_part_code method intends to use your object. So, that’s exactly what I did. I passed in a mocked user to the login_user method provided by sorcery and I found out very quickly what I needed to mock in order to make it working.

So eventually I created a spec/support/controller_helpers.rb with the following content:

module ControllerHelpers

  def stub_login
  user = mock_model User,

        sorcery_attributes = {
          last_login_at_attribute_name: :last_login,
          last_activity_at_attribute_name: :last_activity_at,
          username_attribute_names: [:username]

        sorcery_config = double "sorcery_config", sorcery_attributes


        login_user user



Actually my code is a bit fancier because I have a lot of situations where I need a particular type of user based on the STI pattern. So, your mileage may vary but it should be easy enough to adapt the code to other situations.

In any case, do not forget to add the helper to your RSpec configuration with:

config.include ControllerHelpers, type: :controller

Having done that, you just want to change all your:

login_user Factory(:user)



And then benchmark your changes. I recommend you to use a git branch (you’re using git, aren’t you?) and commit the changes there. In this way, you’ll be able to benchmark the whole thing with something like the following:

git checkout fast-controllers
time rspec spec/controllers
git checkout master
time rspec spec/controllers

And if you like the results you get, you have nothing to do but:

git merge fast-controllers master