RSpec and Watir to test web applications

Testing is cool

Software testing

Software testing is an investigation conducted to provide stakeholders with information about the quality of the product or service under test. Software testing can also provide an objective, independent view of the software to allow the business to appreciate and understand the risks of software implementation. Test techniques include, but are not limited to, the process of executing a program or application with the intent of finding software bugs (errors or other defects) – Wikipedia

The main intend of this post is, introduce you to UI tests over some ruby toys. In fact you could create an entire project (new) in ruby just to test your legacy web project. It’s cool, you can learn new language and work for the improvement of your legacy product. If you are totally new for ruby maybe a ruby overview can help you. (or might confuse you more)

Installing ruby, watir and rspec

Instead of installing the ruby directly, we are going to install the RVM (Ruby Version Manager) to then install any ruby we need. The steps described here were made on Ubuntu 11.04. On your terminal do the magic to install RVM.

bash < <(curl -s
echo ‘[[ -s “$HOME/.rvm/scripts/rvm” ]] && . “$HOME/.rvm/scripts/rvm” # Load RVM function’ >> ~/.bash_profile
source .bash_profile

And from now on, your life will be better on ruby interpreters versions. Let’s install the ruby 1.9.2. (terminal again)

rvm install 1.9.2

And if we want to see the rubies installed on our machine?

rvm list

And now, how can we chose one ruby to work on the terminal session?

rvm use 1.9.2

For the test purpose we will use Watir and RSpec, great tools for testing, make fun with BDD and the best thing is install them it’s very easy.

gem install watir-webdriver
gem install rspec


Since we have all things installed, we can move for the example. The feature I want to test is the search system of  Amazon. Being more precise, I want to search for ‘Brazil’ and see if the ‘Brazil on the Rise’ is within the results as I want to be sure when I search for ‘semnocao‘ the Amazon doesn’t provide any result. Now, we can write the spec.

require 'amazon_page'

describe AmazonPage do
 before(:each) do
   @page =
 after(:each) do
 it "should show 'Brazil on the Rise' when I query for [Brazil]" do
  @page.query 'Brazil'
  @page.has_text('Brazil on the Rise').should == true
 it "should bring no result when I search for [semnocao]" do
  @page.query 'semnocao'
  @page.results_count.should == 0

The specification is very simple, it will create a page before each test calling and close the page after each test calling. There is only two tests: test when you search for Brazil  and  when you search for semnocao. We will design the tests using page object pattern. The class bellow is the page which represents the Amazon page and all testable behaviors should be inside of it.

require 'watir-webdriver'

class AmazonPage
 def initialize
  @page = Watir::Browser::new :firefox
  @page.goto ''
 def close
 def query(parameter)
  @page.text_field(:id=>'twotabsearchtextbox').set parameter
  @page.send_keys :enter
 def has_text(text)
  @page.text.include? text
 def results_count
    if @page.text.include? 'did not match'
     @page.div(:id=>'resultCount').text.split(' ')[5].gsub(',','').to_i

To run this you just need to type on your terminal.

rspec spec/

The final code can be downloaded or viewed at github.


  • We could improve our story readibility  with Cucumber.
  • We could send the browser execution to an Xvfb server. (A.K.A. running headless) The browser pops up really bothers me.
  • We could integrate it with our CI.
  • We could design a base Page class for provide common operations as mixin or something

ps: the post was very inspired by KK post and Saush.

4 thoughts on “RSpec and Watir to test web applications

  1. The emphasis on tests made me happy mainly because it gives confidence for the team build better software and the sure of our client will have the most quality product. By the way the article was well written.

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