A long-lived project that still receives updates
A shared library of rails model & system tests that should pass in every Rails application.
 Project Readme

Effective TestBot

Stop testing and start test botting.

A minitest library of capybara based Rails System Tests that should pass in every Ruby on Rails application.

Adds many additional assertions and quality of life helper functions.

Provides a curated set of minitest and capybara focused rails testing gems and a well configured test_helper.rb file.

Run rails test:bot:environment to validate your testing environment. Ensures that all fixtures and seeds are properly initialized. Makes sure database transactions and web sessions correctly reset between tests.

Adds many class and instance level 1-liners to run entire test suites and check many assertions all at once.

Autosaves an animated .gif for any failing test.

Run rails test:bot to automatically check every route in your application against an appropriate test suite, without writing any code. Clicks through every page, intelligently fills forms with appropriate pseudo-random input and checks for all kinds of errors and omissions.

Turn on tour mode to programatically generate an animated .gif of every workflow in your website.

Make sure everything actually works.

effective_test_bot 1.0

This is the 1.0 series of effective_test_bot.

This requires Rails 5.1+

Please check out Effective TestBot Capybara-Webkit branch for more information using this gem with Capybara Webkit and Rails < 5.1.

This works with Rails 6.0.0.rc1 and parallelization.

See effective_website for a working rails website example that uses effective_test_bot.

Getting Started

First, make sure your site is using devise and that your application javascript includes jQuery and rails' jquery_ujs.

gem 'devise'
gem 'jquery-rails'

and in your application.js file:

//= require jquery
//= require jquery_ujs

Then you're ready to install effective_test_bot:

group :test do
  gem 'capybara'
  gem 'selenium-webdriver'
  gem 'webdrivers'
  gem 'effective_test_bot'

  # Optional.  Only required if you want animated gifs.
  gem 'rmagick'

Run the bundle command to install it:

bundle install

Install the configuration file:

rails generate effective_test_bot:install

The generator will run minitest:install if not already present and create an initializer file which describes all config options.

Fixture or seed one user. At least one user -- ideally a fully priviledged admin type user -- must be created.

(there are future plans to make this better. Right now rails test:bot just runs everything as one user. There really isn't support for 'this user should not be able to' yet.)

To create the initial user, please add it to either test/fixtures/users.yml, the db/seeds.db file or the effective_test_bot specific test/fixtures/seeds.rb file.

Finally, to test that your testing environment is set up correctly run and work through any issues with:

rails test:bot:environment

You now have effective_test_bot configured and you're ready to go:

rails test
rails test:system

rails test:bot
rails test:bot TEST=posts#index

rails test:bot:tour

rails test:bot:fails
rails test:bot:fails TOUR=true

rails test:bot:fail   # Kind of weird with parallelization

How to use this gem

Effective TestBot provides 4 areas of support in writing minitest capybara tests. As a developer, use this gem to:

1.) Enjoy a whole bunch of individual assertions and quality of life helper functions.

2.) Call one-liner methods to run test suites (10-50+ assertions) against a page, or use these methods to build larger tests.

3.) Produce animated .gifs of test runs. Enable autosave_animated_gif_on_failure to help debug a tricky test, or run in tour mode and record walkthroughs of features.

4.) Apply full stack automated testing. Just run rails test:bot to scan every route in your application and without writing any code check every controller action with an appropriate test suite.

Minitest Assertions

The following assertions are added for use in any integration test:

  • assert_assigns asserts a given rails view_assigns object is present.
  • assert_assigns_errors use after an intentionally invalid form submit to make sure your assigned rails object has errors, or a specific error.
  • assert_authorization checks for a 403 Access Denied error. For this to work, please add assign_test_bot_access_denied_exception(exception) if defined?(EffectiveTestBot) to the bottom of your ApplicationController's rescue_from block, after the respond_to, to generate more information.
  • assert_no_assigns_errors should be used after any form submit to make sure your assigned rails object has no errors. Prints out any errors if they exist.
  • assert_current_path(path) asserts the current page path.
  • assert_email(action) asserts an email with the given action name was sent. Also supports assert_email(to: email) type syntax with to, from, subject, body.
  • assert_flash, optionally with the desired :success, :error key and/or message, makes sure the flash is set.
  • assert_jquery_ujs_disable_with makes sure all input[type=submit] elements on the page have the data-disable-with property set.
  • assert_no_html_form_validation_errors checks for frontend html5 errors.
  • assert_no_js_errors checks for any javascript errors on the page.
  • assert_page_content(content) checks that the given content is present without waiting the capybara default wait time.
  • assert_no_page_content(content) checks that the given content is blank without waiting the capybara default wait time.
  • assert_page_status checks for a given http status, default 200.
  • assert_page_title makes sure there is an html <title></title> present.
  • assert_redirect(from_path) optionally with to_path, makes sure the current page path is not from_path.
  • assert_signed_in checks that the assigned @current_user is present.
  • assert_signed_out checks that the assigned @current_user is blank.
  • assert_submit_input makes sure there is an input[type='submit'] present.

As well,

  • assert_page_normal checks for general errors on the current page. Checks include assert_page_status, assert_no_js_errors, and assert_page_title.

Object Extras

Includes a stub_any_instance helper:

String.stub_any_instance(:length, 42) do
  assert_equal "hello".length, 42

Capybara Extras

The following quality of life helpers are added by this gem:


Finds all input, select and textarea form fields and fills them with pseudo-random but appropriate values.

Intelligently fills names, addresses, start and end dates, telephone numbers, postal and zip codes, file, price, email, numeric, password and password confirmation fields. Probably more.

Will only fill visible fields that are currently visible and not disabled.

If a selection made in one field changes the visibility/disabled of fields later in the form, those fields will be properly filled.

It clicks through bootstrap tabs and fill them nicely left-to-right, one tab at a time, and knows how to work with cocoon, select2 and effective_assets form fields.

You can pass a Hash of 'fills' to specify specific input values:

# app/test/system/posts_test.rb
class PostTest < ApplicationSystemTestCase
  test 'creating a new post' do
    visit new_post_path
    fill_form(title: 'A Cool Post', 'author.last_name': 'Smith')

And you can disable specific fields from being filled, by modifying the input html in your normal view:

= f.input :too_complicated, 'data-test-bot-skip': true

Sometimes you have the requirement that inputs add upto a certain number. For example, having to provide percentages in 3-4 input fields that always add upto 100%.

You can use the html min and max properties to indicate this requirement.

The min and max html properties are considered when filling in any numeric field -- the fill value will always be within the specified range.

If there are 2 or more numeric inputs that end with the same jquery selector, the fields will be filled so that their sum will match the html max value.

You can scope the fill_form to a particular area of the page by using the regular within do..end block


Clicks the first input[type='submit'] field (or first submit field with the given label) and submits the form.

Automatically checks for assert_no_html5_form_validation_errors, assert_jquery_ujs_disable_with and assert_no_unpermitted_params

class PostTest < ApplicationSystemTestCase
  test 'creating a new post' do
    visit(new_post_path) and fill_form
    submit_form    # or submit_form('Save and Continue')

other helpers

  • as_user(user) do .. end yields a block between sign_in, and logout.
  • clear_form clears all form fields, probably used before submit_novalidate_form to test invalid form submissions.
  • click_first(label) clicks the first link matching the given label
  • submit_novalidate_form submits the form without client side validation, ignoring any required field requirements.
  • sign_in(user) optionally with user, signs in via Warden::Test::Helpers hacky login skipping method.
  • sign_in_manually(user, password) visits the devise new_user_session_path and signs in via the form.
  • sign_up visits the devise new_user_registration_path and signs up as a new user.
  • synchronize! should fix any timing issues waiting for page elements.
  • was_redirect? returns true/false if the last time we changed pages was a 304 redirect.
  • within_if(selector, boolean) do .. end runs the block inside capybara's within do .. end if boolean is true, otherwise runs the same block skipping the within.

Capybara Super Extras

Running system tests is supposed to be a black-box integration testing experience. This provides a lot of benefits, but also some severe limitations.

The test web server runs in a totally separate process. It knows nothing about your application and it does not have access to any of the rails internal state. It only sees html, javascript, css and urls.

effective_test_bot fills in this knowledge gap by serializing any interesting values with a javascript payload. This gives our tests a way to peek inside the black box.

The following representations of the rails internal state are made available:

  • assigns a Hash representation of the current page's rails view_assigns. Serializes any ActiveRecord objects, as well as any TrueClass, FalseClass, NilClass, String, Symbol, and Numeric objects. Does not serialize anything else, but sets a symbol assigns[key] == :present_but_not_serialized.
  • flash a Hash representation of the current page's flash.

Effective Test Suites

Each of the following test suites make 10-50+ assertions on a given page or controller action. The idea is to check for every possible error or omission accross all layers of the stack.

These may be used as standalone one-liners, in the style of shoulda-matchers and as helper methods to quickly build up more advanced tests.

Each test suite has a class-level one-liner x_test and and one or more instance level x_action_test versions.


This test runs through the standard CRUD workflow of a given controller and checks that resource creation functions as expected -- that all the model, controller, views and database actually work -- and tries to enforce best practices.

There are 9 different crud_action_test test suites that may be run individually. The one-liner crud_test runs all of them.

The following instance level crud_action_test methods are available:

  • crud_action_test(:index) signs in as the given user, finds or creates a resource, visits resources_path and checks that a collection of resources has been assigned.
  • crud_action_test(:new) signs in as the given user, visits new_resource_path, and checks for a properly named form appropriate to the resource.
  • crud_action_test(:create_invalid) signs in as the given user, visits new_resource_path and submits an empty form. Checks that all errors are properly assigned and makes sure a new resource was not created.
  • crud_action_test(:create_valid) signs in as the given user, visits new_resource_path, and submits a valid form. Checks for any errors and makes sure a new resource was created.
  • crud_action_test(:show) signs in as the given user, finds or creates a resource, visits resource_path and checks that the resource is shown.
  • crud_action_test(:edit) signs in as the given user, finds or creates a resource, visits edit_resource_path and checks that an appropriate form exists for this resource.
  • crud_action_test(:update_invalid) signs in as the given user, finds or creates a resource, visits edit_resource_path and submits an empty form. Checks that the existing resource wasn't updated and that all errors are properly assigned and displayed.
  • crud_action_test(:update_valid) signs in as the given user, finds or creates a resource, visits edit_resource_path and submits a valid form. Checks for any errors and makes sure the existing resource was updated.
  • crud_action_test(:destroy) signs in as the given user, finds or creates a resource, visits resources_path. It then finds or creates a link to destroy the resource and clicks the link. Checks for any errors and makes sure the resource was deleted. If the resource respond_to?(:archived) it will check for archive behavior instead of delete.


  • crud_action_test(:tour) signs in as a given user and calls all the above crud_action_test methods from inside one test. The animated .gif produced from this test suite records the entire process of creating, showing, editing and deleting a resource from start to finish. It makes all the same assertions as running the test suites individually.

A quick note on speed: You can speed up these test suites by fixturing, seeding or first creating an instance of the resource being tested. Any tests that need to find_or_create_resource check for an existing resource first, otherwise visit new_resource_path and submit a form to create the resource. Having a resource already created will speed things up.

There are a few variations on the one-liner method:

class PostTest < ApplicationSystemTestCase
  # Runs all 9 crud_action tests against /posts
  crud_test(resource: Post)

  # Runs all 9 crud_action tests against /posts and use this Post's attributes when calling fill_form.
  crud_test(resource: Post.new(title: 'my first post'))

  # Runs all 9 crud_action tests against /admin/posts controller as a previously seeded or fixtured admin user
  crud_test(resource: 'admin/posts', user: User.where(admin: true).first)

  # Run only some tests
  crud_test(resource: Post, user: User.first, only: [:new, :create_valid, :create_invalid, :show, :index])

  # Run all except some tests
  crud_test(resource: Post, user: User.first, except: [:edit, :update_valid, :update_invalid])

  # Skip individual assertions
  crud_test(resource: Post, user: User.first, skip: {create_valid: :path, update_invalid: [:path, :flash]})

The individual test suites may also be used as part of a larger test:

class PostTest < ApplicationSystemTestCase
  test 'user may only update a post once' do
    crud_action_test(test: :create_valid, resource: Post, user: User.first)
    assert_text 'successfully created post.  You may only update it once.'

    crud_action_test(test: :update_valid, resource: Post.last, user: User.first)
    assert_text 'successfully updated post.'

    crud_action_test(test: :update_valid, resource: Post.last, user: User.first, skip: [:no_assigns_errors, :updated_at])
    assert_assigns_errors(:post, 'you may no longer update this post.')
    assert_text 'you may no longer update this post.'

If your resource controller passes a crud_test you can be certain that your user is able to correctly create, edit, display and delete a resource without encountering any application errors.


This test runs through the the devise sign up, sign in, and sign in invalid workflows.

  • devise_action_test(:sign_up) visits the devise new_user_registration_path, submits the sign up form and validates the current_user.
  • devise_action_test(:sign_in) creates a new user and makes sure the sign in process works.
  • devise_action_test(:sign_in_invalid) makes sure an invalid password is correctly denied.

Use as a one-liner:

class MyApplicationTest < ApplicationSystemTestCase
  devise_test  # Runs all tests (sign_up, sign_in_valid, and sign_in_invalid)

Or each individually in part of a regular test:

class MyApplicationTest < ApplicationSystemTestCase
  test 'user receives 10 tokens after signing up' do
    devise_action_test(test: :sign_up)
    assert_text 'Tokens: 10'
    assert_equals 10, User.last.tokens
    assert_equals 10, assigns(:current_user).tokens


This test is intended for non-CRUD actions that operate on a specific instance of a resource.

The action must be a GET with a required id value. member_test-able actions appear as follows from rake routes:

unarchive_post  GET  /posts/:id/unarchive(.:format)  posts#unarchive

This test signs in as the given user, visits the given controller/action/page and checks assert_page_normal and assert_assigns.

Use it as a one-liner:

class PostsTest < ApplicationSystemTestCase
  # Uses find_or_create_resource! to load a seeded resource or create a new one
  member_test(controller: 'posts', action: 'unarchive', user: User.first)

  # Run the member_test with a specific post
  member_test(controller: 'posts', action: 'unarchive', user: User.first, member: Post.find(1))

Or as part of a regular test:

class PostsTest < ApplicationSystemTestCase
  test 'posts can be unarchived' do
    post = Post.create(title: 'first post', archived: true)

    assert Post.where(archived: false).empty?
    member_action_test(controller: 'posts', action: 'unarchive', user: User.first, member: post)
    assert Post.where(archived: false).present?


This test signs in as the given user, visits the given page and simply checks assert_page_normal.

Use it as a one-liner:

class PostsTest < ApplicationSystemTestCase
  page_test(path: :posts_path, user: User.first)  # Runs the page_test test suite against posts_path as User.first

Or as part of a regular test:

class PostsTest < ApplicationSystemTestCase
  test 'posts are displayed on the index page' do
    Post.create(title: 'first post')

    page_action_test(path: :posts_path, user: User.first)

    assert page.current_path, '/posts'
    assert_text 'first post'


This test signs in as the given user, visits the given page then checks assert_redirect(from_path, to_path) and assert_page_normal.

Use it as a one-liner:

class PostsTest < ApplicationSystemTestCase
  # Visits /blog and tests that it redirects to a working /posts page
  redirect_test(from: '/blog', to: '/posts', user: User.first)

Or as part of a regular test:

class PostsTest < ApplicationSystemTestCase
  test 'visiting blog redirects to posts' do
    Post.create(title: 'first post')
    redirect_action_test(from: '/blog', to: '/posts', user: User.first)
    assert_text 'first post'


This test signs in as the given user, visits the given initial page and continually runs fill_form, submit_form and assert_page_normal up until the given final page, or until no more input[type=submit] are present.

It tests any number of steps in a wizard, multi-step form, or inter-connected series of pages.

As well, in the wizard_action_test, each page is yielded to the calling method.

Use it as a one-liner:

class PostsTest < ApplicationSystemTestCase
  wizard_test(from: '/build_post/step1', to: '/build_post/step5', user: User.first)

Or as part of a regular test:

class PostsTest < ApplicationSystemTestCase
  test 'building a post in 5 steps' do
    wizard_action_test(from: '/build_post/step1', to: '/build_post/step5', user: User.first) do
      if page.current_path.end_with?('step4')
        assert_text 'your post is ready but must first be approved by an admin.'

Skipping individual assertions or test suites

Each of the test suites checks a page or pages for some expected behaviour. Sometimes a developer has a good reason for deviating from what is expected and it's frustrating when just one assertion in a test suite fails.

So, almost every individual assertion made by these test suites is skippable.

When an assertion fails, the output will look something like:

crud_test: (users#update_invalid)                               FAIL (3.74s)

Minitest::Assertion: (current_path) Expected current_path to match resource #update path.
  Expected: "/users/1"
  Actual: "/members/1"
  /Users/matt/Sites/effective_test_bot/test/test_botable/crud_test.rb:155:in `test_bot_update_invalid_test'

Here, the (current_path) is the name of the specific test bot assertion that failed.

The expectation is that when submitting an invalid form at /users/1/edit we should be returned to the update action url /users/1, but in this totally reasonable but not-standard case we are redirected to /members/1 instead.

You can skip this assertion by adding it to the app/config/initializers/effective_test_bot.rb file:

EffectiveTestBot.setup do |config|
  config.except = [
    'users#create_invalid current_path',  # Skips the current_path assertion for just the users#create_invalid test
    'current_path',                       # Skips the current_path assertion entirely in all tests
    'users#create_invalid'                # Skips the entire users#create_invalid test

There is support for skipping individual assertions, entire tests, or a combination of both.

Please see the installed effective_test_bot.rb initializer file for a full description of all options.

Testing the test environment

Unfortunately, with the current day ruby on rails ecosystem, simply getting a testing environment setup correctly is a non-trivial endeavor filled with gotchas and many things that can go wrong.

User sessions need to properly reset and database transactions must be correctly rolled back between tests. Seeds and fixtures that were once valid may become invalid as the application changes. Database migrations must stay up to date. Capybara needs to query your app with a single shared connection or weird things start happening.

Included with this gem is the rails generate effective_test_bot:install that does its best to provide a known-good set of configuration files that initialize all required testing gems. However, every developer's machine is different, and there are just too many points of failure. Everyone's test/test_helper.rb will be slightly different.

Run rails test:bot:environment to check that capybara is doing the right thing, everything is reset properly between test runs, an initial user record exists, all seeded and fixtured data is valid, devise works and rails' jquery-ujs is present.

If all environment tests pass, you will have a great experience with automated testing.

Automated full stack testing

One of the main goals of effective_test_bot is to increase the speed at which tests can be written in any ruby on rails application. Well, there's no faster way of writing tests than by not writing them at all.

Run rails test:bot to scan every route defined in routes.rb and run an appropriate test suite.

You can configure test bot to skip individual tests or assertions, tweak screenshot behaviour and toggle tour mode via the config/initializers/effective_test_bot.rb file. As well, there are a few command line options available.

These are some quick ways to customize test bot's behaviour:

# Scan every route in the application as per config/initializers/effective_test_bot.rb
rails test:bot

# Test a specific controller (any routes matching posts)
rails test:bot TEST=posts

# Test a specific controller and action
rails test:bot TEST=posts#index

# Only runs previously failed tests
rails test:bot:fails

# Only runs failed tests and stops after first failure
rails test:bot:fails

# Clobber (delete) all screenshots and fails
rails test:bot:clobber

Animated gifs and screenshots

Call save_test_bot_screenshot from within any test to take a screenshot of the current page. If an animated .gif is produced at the end of the test -- either from autosave_animated_gif_on_failure or tour mode -- this screenshot will be used as one of the frames in the animation.

This method is already called by fill_form and submit_form.

To disable taking screenshots entirely set config.screenshots = false in the config/initializers/effective_test_bot.rb initializer file.

You must have gem 'rmagick' installed to use animated gifs.

Tour mode

When running in tour mode, an animated .gif image file, a "tour", will be created for all successful tests.

This feature is slow, increasing the runtime of each test by almost 30%, but it's also really cool.

You can run test bot in tour mode by setting config.tour_mode = true in the config/initializers/effective_test_bot.rb file or by running any variation of the following rake tasks:

# Run test:bot in tour mode, saving an animated .gif for all successful tests
rails test:bot:tour
rails test:bot TOUR=true

# Also prints the animated .gif file path to stdout
rails test:bot:tourv
rails test:bot TOUR=verbose

# Makes a whole bunch of extra screenshots when filling out forms
rails test:bot TOUR=extreme

# Runs in tour mode and tests only a specific controller or action
rails test:bot:tour TEST=posts
rails test:bot:tour TEST=posts#index

To print out the file location of all tour files, run the following:

# Prints out all animated .gif file locations
rails test:bot:tours

# Prints out any animated .gif files locations with a file name matching posts
rails test:bot:tours TEST=posts

To delete all tour and autosave on failure animated .gifs, run the following:

# Deletes all tour and failure animated .gifs
rails test:bot:clobber

As well, to enable tour mode when running the standard rails test:

# Runs all regular minitest tests with tour mode enabled
rails test:tour
rails test:tourv

Fail fast

Set config.fail_fast = true to exit immediately if there is a test failure.

Or, override the config setting by running the following:

rails test:bot FAILFAST=true

This functionality is provided thanks to minitest-fail-fast

It's kind of busted with parallelization but mostly works.

Failed tests only

Skip any previously passed tests by running the following:

rails test:bot:fails


rails test:bot FAILS=true


MIT License. Copyright Code and Effect Inc.


  1. Fork it
  2. Create your feature branch (git checkout -b my-new-feature)
  3. Commit your changes (git commit -am 'Add some feature')
  4. Push to the branch (git push origin my-new-feature)
  5. Bonus points for test coverage
  6. Create new Pull Request