I’m posting this as a reminder to myself and as Google fodder to raise awareness of this discussion.

Most of the Rails projects I have in active development use RSpec for testing. I also use Spork to preload the Rails environment, allowing the tests to run more quickly. When I’m actively working on a specfic example, particularly relatively slow-running request specs, I’ll often use the :focus tag to filter out the specs I don’t need to run. I have the following set up in my RSpec configure block:

# spec/spec_helper.rb
RSpec.configure do |config|
  config.treat_symbols_as_metadata_keys_with_true_values = true
  config.filter_run focus: true
  config.run_all_when_everything_filtered = true

Then I tag the spec I’m working on with :focus like so:

# spec/requests/some_feature_spec.rb
describe 'SomeFeature' do
  it 'successfully does awesome stuff', :focus do
    # test awesome behavior

I then go to work implementing the feature, periodically checking the window running RSpec to observe my progress towards getting the feature working as described.

At some point recently — apparently after upgrading to RSpec 2.8 — I noticed the :focus tag being ignored. When I’d save my changes, instead of the one focused example being run, the entire spec file was being run. On a slow-running request spec, this could be annoying, especially if I wanted to scroll through the log/test.log file to debug exactly what was happening in the database as the log output was cluttered with unrelated examples.

After spending some time composing suitable Google-fu to find reports of similar problems I ran across #166 on Spork’s Github issue tracker. The problem seems to rest in RSpec 2.8 somewhere, and the fix (or, at the very least, workaround) is relatively simple: add --tag focus to the .rspec file at the root of your project.

(As an added reminder, don’t forget to set run_all_when_everything_filtered to true in your RSpec.configure block to ensure all your specs are eligible for running when nothing is tagged with :focus.)