Beyond rspec-puppet: puppetlabs_spec_helper

Editor’s note: Please check out the much newer article Configuring Travis CI on a Puppet Module Repo for the new “best practices” around setting up rspec-puppet. You are encouraged to use the newer setup, though everything on this page will still work!

We recently discussed test-driven development for puppet modules in the context of rspec-puppet. That’s a nice, simple introduction to testing, but doesn’t provide everything we need. Rspec-puppet is limited in the matchers available (notably there are no negation tests) and its inability to test dependencies (when a module includes another module), both of which will be necessary eventually. The next step is puppetlabs_spec_helper, a project by Puppet Labs that provides us with more full-fledged specification tests.


The biggest requirement for puppetlabs_spec_helper is a ruby version of 1.9 or higher. CentOS 6.5, however, only includes v1.8.7. There are numerous ways to upgrade ruby, most of which are horrible. We’ll look at using the Ruby Version Manager, or RVM, to upgrade to 1.9.3. This can be done with puppet via the maestrodev/rvm module. After adding the module to your master, create a class or modify an existing one to provide RVM and some puppet and rspec gems.

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Pull Requests aren’t just for Code anymore

Pull requests (PRs) are an interface to discuss proposed changes to be integrated into a project. As a sysadmin, you might typically hear about developers using PRs to manage code in a public repository. Even if you don’t know how to code, you can still contribute with PRs to your favorite project.

As a frequent user of r10k, but someone unfamiliar with ruby, I can’t contribute very much to the inner workings of the program. However, as a user, I’m in a good position to provide feedback on the user experience. To that end, I forked the repository on github and created some branches to update the documentation to (hopefully!) improve it for other users. Afterward, I submitted PRs and worked with Adrien Thebo, the project maintainer, to fine tune the PRs till they were correctly implemented. The results of that PR are here and the other PRs are merged or still being edited.

As I’ve noted before, documentation matters. If you can’t or aren’t willing to contribute code on a project, improving the documentation is a great way to give back to the community. Give it a shot!