RSpec vs Minitest: Battle of Ruby Test Frameworks

By Saurabh Barot   |   27 December, 2022
RSpec vs Minitest: Battle of Ruby Test Frameworks

Quick Summary: Minitest and RSpec are two popular testing frameworks for Ruby. Minitest is a more traditional testing framework used as a part of the Ruby standard library. It is fast and lightweight but has fewer features than RSpec. RSpec is a more modern and feature-rich testing framework. It is more powerful but can be more complex and slower than Minitest. Both frameworks have advantages and disadvantages and are widely used in the Ruby community.

RSpec and Minitest are both testing frameworks for the Ruby programming language. They are used to write and run automated tests for Ruby programs, which can help ensure that the code works correctly and catch any bugs or errors.

RSpec is a behavior-driven development (BDD) testing framework that focuses on testing the code’s behavior rather than its implementation. It is designed to be easy to read and understand, with a syntax that emphasizes the behavior being tested. RSpec uses a DSL (domain-specific language) to define tests, making it easy to read and write tests, even for people unfamiliar with Ruby. if you are still confused about the testing framework, It is advisable to consult with a professional Ruby on Rails Development Company before choosing the right Ruby framework for your Ruby project.

Minitest is a testing framework that is built into the Ruby standard library. It is a lightweight and efficient testing tool designed to be easy to use and extend. Minitest uses a syntax similar to other testing frameworks, such as JUnit or Test::Unit, which makes it familiar to developers who have used other testing frameworks.

Now that we know what RSpec vs Minitest are let’s first brush up on some basic understanding of both testing frameworks. This blog will shed some light on the overview of both the test framework, the pros and cons offered, and the differences provided by both.

Rspec vs Minitest: Overview

As mentioned above both RSpec and minitest are ruby testing framework, but it is important to keep in mind that RSpec is an application where as minitest is just a library. When using any framework, it is important to have a good documention, RSpec has an incredible documentation, but for minitest it is not even close to the RSpec. Now that you have some idea about what both these framework are, let’s see the overview of both the technologies.

RSPec

RSpec is a behavior-driven development (BDD) testing framework for the Ruby programming language. It uses a Domain Specific Language (DSL) to describe the behavior of an application and verifies that the application complies with the desired behavior. RSpec focuses on providing an expressive and readable syntax for writing tests.

# Class definition for a Dog class
class Dog
  attr_reader :name, :breed
  def initialize(name, breed)
    @name = name
    @breed = breed
  end
  def bark
    "Woof!"
  end
end

# RSpec test case for the Dog class
describe Dog do
  let(:dog) { Dog.new("Fido", "Labrador") }

  it "has a name" do
    expect(dog.name).to eq("Fido")
  end

  it "has a breed" do
    expect(dog.breed).to eq("Labrador")
  end

  it "barks" do
    expect(dog.bark).to eq("Woof!")
  end
end

In this example, the describe block defines a test suite for the Dog class. Within the block, the let block defines a dog object that will be used in the test cases. The it blocks contain individual test cases, each of which consists of an expectation (using the expect method) and a matcher (using the to method). In this case, the test cases are checking the values of the name and breed attributes, as well as the output of the bark method. When run, RSpec will execute these test cases and report any failures.

The structure of the tests written in RSpec is more flexible than that of Minitest and allows different descriptions and contexts to clarify the concerns of what is being tested. Some of the typical RSpec elements are as follows:

Expect: It functions similarly to a Minitest assertion and is tasked with verifying a result. If the intended result and the actual result diverge, the test is said to have failed.

Describe: a description of the subject of the test, which may be a class, a method, or an action, designates a test execution block. It might be compared to a set of tests.

Let: When a variable needs to be assigned and the block in which it was declared is the only place where its definition is valid, it is used. When a test first uses the let the variable, it only has to be loaded once, and it is then cached until the test is finished. The variable is defined when the block is defined using a variation of it called let!

It: Describes the test to be executed, which is the test case.

Pros & Cons of RSPec Testing Framework

Like any other in this world, there are advantages and disadvantages of everything, same goes for this Ruby Testing Framework. Following are some of the benefits and limitations provided by RSpec.

Pros

  • It is simple to understand the test objectives and their results.
  • Using the straightforward CLI, you can quickly run a particular example.
  • The tools are easy to use and intuitive for stubbing and checking method calls.
  • By using common contexts, lets, and example hooks, it is simple to create a matrix of various circumstances.

Cons

The following are some of the limitations:

  • Since the DSL is not made entirely of Ruby, learning it takes longer.
  • The length and memory footprint of tests is greater.
  • Need libraries to perform functions provided by minitest out of the box.

Minitest

As many people go for the default option, Rails has provided Minitest. Minitest is a testing framework for Ruby similar to RSpec but smaller and lighter in weight. It is easy to use, has a simple syntax, and can be quickly implemented with low to medium-complexity tests. It uses a syntax similar to RSpec and depends on the xUnit architecture. Assertions are also used to check if the application performs as expected.

# Class definition for a Dog class
class Dog
  attr_reader :name, :breed

  def initialize(name, breed)
    @name = name
    @breed = breed
  end

  def bark
    "Woof!"
  end
end

# Minitest test case for the Dog class
class TestDog < Minitest::Test
  def setup
    @dog = Dog.new("Fido", "Labrador")
  end

  def test_name
    assert_equal "Fido", @dog.name
  end

  def test_breed
    assert_equal "Labrador", @dog.breed
  end

  def test_bark
    assert_equal "Woof!", @dog.bark
  end
end

In this example, the TestDog class defines a test suite for the Dog class. The setup method is run before each test case and is used to create a @dog object that will be used in the test cases. The test_* methods contain individual test cases, each of which consists of an assertion (using the assert_equal method) that verifies the expected output. When run, Minitest will execute these test cases and report any failures.

It entails creating classes responsible for testing other Ruby classes, integrating those classes, or doing other types of tests as needed. Each class consists mostly of three components:

Teardown: A block of code is invoked once for each test once it has been run. It is employed to carry out cleaning after testing.

Test:  The execution of fundamental procedures to validate a certain need. A string defining what is being tested is necessary for its specification.

Setup: To set up a shared environment, a block of code is run once before the execution of each test.

Now let’s move forward to the Pros and cons of both frameworks.

Pros & Cons of Minitest Testing Library

Each framework has 2 sides, it can provide several advantages but it can also have some disadvantages. Here we are going to weight the technical pros & cons of each framework.

Now let’s see the pros and cons of Minitest

Pros

  • Faster than RSpec at running
  • The testing is written entirely in ruby.
  • Reveals the number of assertions in addition to the number of examples.
  • Numerous rails assertions and fixtures are included out of the box

Cons

  • It is hard to run the specific example with the hard CLI
  • Stubbing or verifying method calls is not as intuitive as in RSpec
  • Harder to create a matrix of Scenarios

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Minitest vs RSpec: Tabular Comparison

There are several similarities between both frameworks, as well as there, are differences between both them. Following are some of the differences that are represented in the tabular form.

Minitest Factors RSpec
3.1k GitStar 2.9k
527 GitFork 246
63 No. of people watching 95
v5.16.3 (121.667 months ) Latest version v3.9.0 (1170 days ago)
Ruby Programming Language Ruby
Unit Testing Category Unit testing, Integration Testing
Complete Suite Testing Solution DSL testing
MIT License MIT
Faster than RSpec Speed Slower than Minitest
Easier to use Ease of use Difficult than RSpec

Minitest vs Rspec

RSpec vs Minitest: Key differences

Despite having no significant conceptual differences, RSpec vs Minitest has different syntactic structures. Whatever test framework you use—or even what language, for that matter—the basic testing concepts remain the same.

Minitest vs RSpec: xUnit

In both frameworks, xUnit is supported. Contrary to more conventional xUnit solutions, it is different in RSpec. Its tests are created in a “Tests as Specification” style. This implies that the terminology used in RSpec has been changed to one that is more appropriate for specifications. Assertion functions in the form of xUNit are present in the Minitest framework, which is designed in that style.

RSpec vs Minitest: Client Support

In the Minitest vs RSpec comparison, RSpec enables us to evaluate the execution of code on the client, like a web browser. The capybara gem and RSpec can be used for that. It is usually used to test the behavior of applications or specific components, but it can also test front-end behavior. However, client-side code testing is not supported by Minitest.

Minitest Vs RSpec In Rails: Compatibility

Minitest has better compatibility with a broader range of Ruby versions. Ruby compatibility aside, keeping your project up to date is essential: having frameworks and libraries updated to their most recent versions is critical. It can be for security reasons or performance benefits. Anyway, newer versions of libraries should be more mature, have more bugs fixed, and are usually better performing.

Developers are unable to update Rails regularly due to two key factors:

  • Insufficient coverage exists. Just how safe an upgrade is and whether it won’t damage anything is unknown
  • The most recent version of rails’ ruby is incompatible with any third-party code or libraries

However, after the latest edition of Rails is released, RSpec might occasionally lead to compatibility problems. Release of support for the most recent version of Rails requires patience for the RSpec community to keep up and become proficient. Minitest has no such difficulties as it is the default testing library included in the standard Rails installation.

Also Read : Popular Ruby Design Patterns to Use in 2023

RSpec vs Minitest: Fixture

RSpec includes fixture methods, while Minitest offers test fixtures procedures. Both testing frameworks enable Fixtures. It enables the definition of test-local data states that are fixed and specified (fixtures). For a single test, this guarantees a specific environment.

Minitest vs RSpec: Group Fixtures

Group fixtures are the next item on the RSpec vs. Minitest comparison list. Once more, both test frameworks support group fixtures. This enables the definition of fixed, specific data states for a collection of tests (group fixtures). This guarantees a unique ecosystem for a particular set of tests.

RSpec vs Minitest: Generators

When the generator capability of the two test frameworks is compared, only RSpec implements the generator feature. A specification will be saved in the spec/requests folder using the integration’ test name’ example. Data generators produce the test’s input data. Each input data set created in this manner is then subjected to the test.

Minitest Vs RSpec In Rails: Mocks

According to a comparison of the two test frameworks, both support mocks. By stating example groups and situations, RSpec makes this possible. The Minitest::Mock class, a straightforward and tidy mock object framework, provides mocking in Minitest. Mocks, which mimic the behavior of actual objects, are objects that are used in both frameworks. By utilizing mocks, it is possible to test a portion of the code independently while also mocking other portions as necessary.

RSpec vs Minitest: Application vs Library

RSpec includes libraries as well, of course, but Bisect, a sophisticated CLI application, provides the user experience. It includes an alot of helpful features and choices, all of which are explained using –help option, as you might think. However, because Minitest is only a library, it requires another software to run it. Rake usually fulfils that role. Rake is only a basic task runner, so the user experience isn’t even close to being as excellent. Custom Rake DSL scripting is needed for even basic functionalities like run all tests.

Conclusion

When RSpec vs Minitest is compared, both test frameworks are popular and effective for writing and running automated tests in the Ruby programming language. Minitest is a lightweight and fast option included with the Ruby standard library, making it an easy choice for developers who want a simple and familiar testing solution.

On the other hand, RSpec is a more feature-rich and expressive framework that is popular for its readable and expressive syntax, making tests easier to write and understand. Ultimately, the choice between Minitest and RSpec will depend on your project and your team’s specific needs and preferences. Both frameworks have their strengths and limitations, and it may be helpful to try out both options to determine the best fit for your project.

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    Saurabh Barot

    Saurabh Barot is co-founder and Experienced Chief Technology Officer at Aglowid IT Solutions. His deep industry experience in Angular, React, Ruby on Rails, PHP, Mean Stack and just to name few, has helped the company reach to a new level. He believes that technology is all about exploring new possibilities. Whatever a mind can think (exception can't be ruled out), technology brings it into reality.

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