Checkout Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of the series first!

The ancient, venerable, and useful autotest gem died, but was reborn as rspec-autotest. Let’s migrate the library to use it!

We still use the old .autotest hook file, but we replace the old contents:

# autotest config for rspec
# see:
Autotest.add_hook(:initialize) {|at|
  at.add_exception %r{^\.git}  # ignore Version Control System
  at.add_exception %r{^pkg}  # ignore gem pkg dir
  #  at.add_exception %r{^./tmp}  # ignore temp files, lest autotest will run again, and again...
  #  at.clear_mappings         # take out the default (test/test*rb)
  ## include specs
  at.add_mapping(%r{^lib/.*\.rb$}) {|f, _|

with new contents:

require "autotest/bundler"

But it won’t work, because in Part 3 we upgraded from RSpec v2 to v3, but we left v2 installed, albeit unused. Autotest will not work if RSpec v2 and v3 are both installed. So we uninstall the old RSpec gems. Use gem list rspec to see all the gems, and the versions, you need to clear out:

$ gem list rspec

*** LOCAL GEMS ***

rspec (3.12.0, 3.11.0, 2.99.0, 2.5.0)
rspec-autotest (1.0.2)
rspec-block_is_expected (1.0.2)
rspec-core (3.12.0, 3.11.0, 2.99.2, 2.5.2)
rspec-expectations (3.12.0, 3.11.1, 3.11.0, 2.99.2, 2.5.0)
rspec-mocks (3.12.1, 3.11.1, 2.99.4, 2.5.0)
rspec-pending_for (0.1.16)
rspec-stubbed_env (1.0.0)
rspec-support (3.12.0, 3.11.1, 3.11.0)
rubocop-rspec (1.41.0)

And then start uninstalling

$ gem uninstall rspec

Select gem to uninstall:
1. rspec-2.5.0
2. rspec-2.99.0
3. rspec-3.11.0
4. rspec-3.12.0
5. All versions
> 1
Successfully uninstalled rspec-2.5.0

And repeat for all but the gem version we need. And repeat for each of the various RSpec-family gems, such as rspec-core.

$ gem uninstall rspec-core

Select gem to uninstall:
 1. rspec-core-2.5.2
 2. rspec-core-2.99.2
 3. rspec-core-3.11.0
 4. rspec-core-3.12.0
 5. All versions
> 1
Successfully uninstalled rspec-core-2.5.2

After much uninstalling we get:

$ gem list rspec               

*** LOCAL GEMS ***

rspec (3.12.0)
rspec-autotest (1.0.2)
rspec-block_is_expected (1.0.2) # 👈 Part of my suite of RSpec extensions! Check it out!
rspec-core (3.12.0)
rspec-expectations (3.12.0)
rspec-mocks (3.12.1)
rspec-pending_for (0.1.16) # 👈 Part of my suite of RSpec extensions! Check it out!
rspec-stubbed_env (1.0.0) # 👈 Part of my suite of RSpec extensions! Check it out!
rspec-support (3.12.0)
rubocop-rspec (1.41.0)

It still won’t work though, becuase the rspec-autotest gem doesn’t include an autotest executable. Several gems provide a compatible autotest command.

rspec-autotest provides integration between autotest and RSpec; Autotest is not included in this gem and can be installed via the autotest-standalone or zentest gems.

Choose between the options: autotest-standalone hasn’t been touched since 2012, and zentest is more actively maintained… However, ZenTest will be dropping the autotest feature from the next release, and instructs people to switch to minitest-autotest. However, minitest-autotest has zero RSpec integration (no surprise there), so we try the very old autotest-standalone, and discover that it requires RSpec v2, and doesn’t support RSpec v3. So, we must drop autotest altogether, and switch to guard if we want autotesting with RSpec v3.

  s.add_development_dependency(%q<guard-rspec>.freeze, ["~> 4.7"])

Now bundle update. Then create a new config file at Guardfile:

guard :rspec, cmd: "bundle exec rspec" do
  require "guard/rspec/dsl"
  dsl =

  # Feel free to open issues for suggestions and improvements

  # RSpec files
  rspec = dsl.rspec
  watch(rspec.spec_helper) { rspec.spec_dir }
  watch(rspec.spec_support) { "#{rspec.spec_dir}/config" }

  # Ruby files
  ruby = dsl.ruby

Now try bundle exec guard!

$ bundle exec guard

Hit enter to run all specs.

Delete the various autotest related files…

autotest has been ripped out, and replaced with guard-rspec!

Check out the pull request and give it a thumbs up or a heart if you are feeling generous!

Stay tuned for further posts in this series!

Hero image (cropped) by Jon Tyson