Using autotest with Rails (with ZenTest prior to 3.6.0)Edit

Newer versions of these notes (for use with versions of ZenTest greater than or equal to ZenTest 3.6.0) can be found at "Using autotest with Rails".

An older version of these notes (for use with versions of ZenTest prior to 3.5.0) can be found at "Using autotest with Rails (with ZenTest prior to 3.5.0)".


Installing the RSpec Rails plugin

You have to use the version of the plug-in corresponding with your installed version of RSpec so in my case at the time of writing this corresponds to the REL_0_9_0_BETA_1 tag (see "Trying out the rspec version 0.9 preview"). From the top of the application directory:

script/plugin install svn://

After installing you must "bootstrap" RSpec as follows:

script/generate rspec


      create  spec
      create  spec/spec_helper.rb
      create  spec/spec.opts
      create  previous_spec_failures.txt
      create  script/spec_server
      create  script/spec

For more information see

I later installed RSpec itself as a plug-in alongside of rspec_on_rails:

script/plugin install svn://
script/plugin install --force svn://

This was necessary in order to get autotest from the new version of ZenTest (3.5.0 at the time of writing) working. Note that I took the opportunity to upgrade to the latest beta. I had to supply the --force switch in order to force the upgrade to overwrite the existing copy of the plug-in.


Add the following to your ~/.autotest file:

require 'rspec_rails_autotest'

Autotest.add_hook :initialize do |autotest|
  if autotest.is_a? RspecRailsAutotest
    autotest.spec_command = 'script/spec --options spec/spec.opts' if File.exist? 'script/spec'

Starting autotest



I was seeing a lot of warnings, invalid option: -s (OptionParser::InvalidOption), due to the fact that the plug-in is passing a switch that RSpec no longer supports in 0.9.0 beta 1 (and in fact I can’t find any information on what it used to do); I assume it was for specifying an individual specification. I was able to silence these by changing the -s to an -e because specifications are now called examples in RSpec 0.9:

methods.each { |meth| cmds << "#{spec_command} -s #{meth.inspect} #{klass}" }


methods.each { |meth| cmds << "#{spec_command} -e #{meth.inspect} #{klass}" }

At line 91 of rspec_autotest.rb.

Here’s a ticket for the issue with a basic patch:

Additional Rails configuration

David Chelimsky points out in this rspec-users mailing list post that you should remove the following lines from the spec/spec.opts file:


This prevents the tests from failing continuously when an example fails; autotest will run the specs again automatically once changes have been made.

See also