RSpec Approvals

Approvals are based on the idea of the golden master.

You take a snapshot of an object, and then compare all future versions of the object to the snapshot.

See ApprovalTests for videos and additional documentation about the general concept.

The original Approvals libraries for Java and C# were developed by Llewellyn Falco.


The default location for the output files is


You can change this using the configuration option

RSpec.configure do |c|
  c.approvals_path = 'some/other/path'


The basic format of the approval is modeled after RSpec's it:

approve "something" do
  "this is the received contents"

The :to_s method on the object will be used to generate the output for the *.received.txt file. For custom objects you will need to override the :to_s to get helpful output, rather than the default:


The first time the specs are run, two files will be created:


Since you have not yet approved anything, the *.approved.txt file is empty.

The contents of the two files are compared, and the approval will fail at this point.

Approving a spec

If the contents of the received file is to your liking, you can approve the file by overwriting the approved file with the received file.

For an example who's full description is My Spec:

mv my_spec.received.txt my_spec.approved.txt

When you rerun the spec, it should now pass.


You can specify a custom formatter when you run the specs.


rspec --require /path/to/lib/rspec/approvals/formatters/opendiff_formatter.rb \
-f RSpec::Approvals::Formatters::OpendiffFormatter spec/

The OpendiffFormatter automatically launches opendiff for each failed approval. It falls back on the ProgressFormatter for all non-approval specs.

That's pretty unweildy, so I'm looking at options to add shortcuts for this.

Copyright (c) 2011 Katrina Owen, released under the MIT license