Questions: Where To Test Sessions And Roles

Questions, I get questions. Well, sometimes I do. Here’s one. And sorry, this should have been posted here a couple of weeks ago.

[In my project] Only admin users are allowed to add users or inactivate them which means among other things that the user must be an admin and logged in.

I struggled for a while with trying to make a unit test work with this and had issues with the fact that there’s no active session while running unit tests. That further revealed that having this logic in the model is problematic too. People posted ways to make this work, but it appears to be frowned upon. Eventually, I just removed this from the model and placed it in the controller and correspondingly moved the test to the users_controller_test.rb.

So, the correct place for this test is the functional test for users from a testing/functionality philosophical standpoint?

Short answer:

I agree with your conclusion. Logic having to do with authentication and access should be tested in the controller test.

Longer answer:

As you correctly note, sessions are not available in the model test environment, which in my experience is a hint and a half from the Rails core team that they really don’t want you doing that. Rails core is never particularly shy about denying or limiting access to things they don’t want you to be able to do easily. That said, it’s not that hard to fake, see the section in the book for testing helpers for an example of how to get session features in a unit test environment.

From a philosophical standpoint, you want to split the access from what is actually the logic in the model. In other words, whether you need to be a logged in admin to get to the add users page is properly a controller test, so is the idea that if you check this box, the the user’s active status changes. However, if changing the users active status triggers other logic in the model, like some kind of activity history or some such, then there should be a model method with a name like “inactivate” and that method should be tested in the model tests.

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