Introducing Capybara-Extensions


Today we’re happy to announce CapybaraExtensions.

Testing with Capybara

We love Capybara at DockYard. We use it for virtually all of our integration tests and rely on it for writing tests that not only replicate how users flow through an application, but also for how they interact with page elements.

Briefly, let’s take a look at a Rails application with and without Capybara. Without Capybara, inheriting from ActionDispatch::IntegrationTest provides some helpful RequestHelpers like get, which takes a path, some parameters, and headers (via RailsGuides):

require 'test_helper'

class UserFlowsTest < ActionDispatch::IntegrationTest
  fixtures :users

  test "login and browse site" do
    # login via https
    get "/login"
    assert_response :success

    post_via_redirect "/login", username: users(:david).username, password: users(:david).password
    assert_equal '/welcome', path
    assert_equal 'Welcome david!', flash[:notice]

    get "/posts/all"
    assert_response :success
    assert assigns(:products)

Capybara adds some syntactic sugar with its Capybara::Session#visit method, and produces code that reads a lot cleaner and mimics how a user engages with the application:

require 'test_helper'
require 'capybara'
require 'capybara_minitest_spec' # MiniTest::Spec expectations for Capybara

class PostsTest < ActionDispatch::IntegrationTest
  fixtures :users

  test "login and browse site" do
    visit login_path

    within find('form#session-new') do
      fill_in 'username', with: users(:david).username
      fill_in 'password', with: users(:david).password
      click_button 'Submit'

    current_path.must_equal welcome_path
    page.must_have_content 'Welcome david!'

    visit posts_path
    page.must_have_content 'Welcome to ReefPoints!'

Jonas Nicklas, who maintains Capybara, writes how the library leads to cleaner tests and clearer intent. This is exactly what we want from our tests, which not only test our code, but also document our application’s behavior. A lot more could be written about this idea, but I’m going to assume I’m preaching to the choir here and jump into DockYard’s newest gem: CapybaraExtensions.

CapybaraExtensions extends Capybara’s finders and matchers. Our goal is to cull many of the find statements from our tests and remove the verbose CSS and xpath locators that come along with them.



The library contains helper methods for finding elements like form, table, and lists, as well as many HTML5 elements like article, aside, footer, and header.

So the above code in which we pass a CSS selector

within find('form#session-new') do

becomes the following:

within form('Login') do

In this example, “Login” is text found in the form. Passing the text contained within the element we’re looking for better reflects what a user is thinking when she sees a form that says “Login.”

Finder methods are also aliased so that you can call #form instead of #find_form (which you might expect from a finder method). This makes for better readability with the oft-used Capybara::Session#within method.


Each “find” method also has a corresponding “first” method. So when you have multiple article elements on a page with the text ‘Lorem ipsum,’ you can call first_article('Lorem ipsum') without returning an ambiguous match in Capybara.


In instances when you have lists or tables and you’d like to verify the content of a specific li or tr, CapybaraExtensions allows you to target the nth occurence of the element via #list_item_number and #row_number.

So given the following HTML:

  <li>John Doe</li>
  <li>Jane Doe</li>
  <li>Juan Doe</li>

You can find the second li with:

list_item_number(2) # => 'Jane Doe'

Use these methods for testing how elements are being ordered.


CapybaraExtensions extends Capybara’s matchers with methods for verifying the presence of images, the value of input fields, and the presence of meta tags. All of these methods return a boolean.


CapybaraExtensions comes with a #has_field_value? method which checks the value of a form field. Ensuring that your records save and update correctly should be the domain of your unit tests, however this method can come in handy when you’re not persisting data to the back-end. For example, after performing a search, you may want to ensure that the query persists in the search field after redirect.

within form('Search') do
  has_field_value?('search', 'capybara images')
# => true


Asserting that text appears on the page is easy with Capybara’s #must_have_content method; asserting that a particular image appears has always been a little tougher. #must_have_image takes a hash with the src and/or alt attributes you’re looking for. You can pass a string for either of these keys, and an instance of Regexp to the src attribute when you want to hone in on a portion of the src attribute without worrying about the rest of the URL.

page.has_image?(src: '',
alt: 'Capybara')
# => true


#has_meta_tag checks the head for meta tags. Just pass in the name and content you’re expecting to find. We use this method quite a bit to ensure that our pages are looking good from a search engine optimization standpoint.

page.has_meta_tag?('title', 'Introducing CapybaraExtensions')
# => true

We hope this gem makes your tests a little more descriptive and your test_helper.rb a little lighter. As always, we welcome pull requests and issues via Github. Thanks!



Stay in the Know

Get the latest news and insights on Elixir, Phoenix, machine learning, product strategy, and more—delivered straight to your inbox.

Narwin holding a press release sheet while opening the DockYard brand kit box