Superclass for ActionController functional tests. Functional tests allow you to test a single controller action per test method. This should not be confused with integration tests (see ActionController::IntegrationTest), which are more like “stories” that can involve multiple controllers and mutliple actions (i.e. multiple different HTTP requests).

Basic example

Functional tests are written as follows:

  1. First, one uses the get, post, put, deleteor headmethod to simulate an HTTP request.

  2. Then, one asserts whether the current state is as expected. “State” can be anything: the controller's HTTP response, the database contents, etc.

For example:

class BooksControllerTest < ActionController::TestCase
  def test_create
    # Simulate a POST response with the given HTTP parameters.
    post(:create, :book => { :title => "Love Hina" })
    # Assert that the controller tried to redirect us to
    # the created book's URI.
    assert_response :found
    # Assert that the controller really put the book in the database.
    assert_not_nil Book.find_by_title("Love Hina")

Special instance variables

ActionController::TestCase will also automatically provide the following instance variables for use in the tests:


The controller instance that will be tested.


An ActionController::TestRequest, representing the current HTTP request. You can modify this object before sending the HTTP request. For example, you might want to set some session properties before sending a GET request.


An ActionController::TestResponse object, representing the response of the last HTTP response. In the above example, @responsebecomes valid after calling post. If the various assert methods are not sufficient, then you may use this object to inspect the HTTP response in detail.

(Earlier versions of Rails required each functional test to subclass Test::Unit::TestCase and define @controller, @request, @response in setup.)

Controller is automatically inferred

ActionController::TestCase will automatically infer the controller under test from the test class name. If the controller cannot be inferred from the test class name, you can explicity set it with tests.

class SpecialEdgeCaseWidgetsControllerTest < ActionController::TestCase
  tests WidgetController

Testing controller internals

In addition to these specific assertions, you also have easy access to various collections that the regular test/unit assertions can be used against. These collections are:

  • assigns: Instance variables assigned in the action that are available for the view.

  • session: Objects being saved in the session.

  • flash: The flash objects currently in the session.

  • cookies: Cookies being sent to the user on this request.

These collections can be used just like any other hash:

assert_not_nil assigns(:person) # makes sure that a @person instance variable was set
assert_equal "Dave", cookies[:name] # makes sure that a cookie called :name was set as "Dave"
assert flash.empty? # makes sure that there's nothing in the flash

For historic reasons, the assigns hash uses string-based keys. So assigns won't work, but assigns will. To appease our yearning for symbols, though, an alternative accessor has been devised using a method call instead of index referencing. So assigns(:person) will work just like assigns, but again, assigns will not work.

On top of the collections, you have the complete url that a given action redirected to available in redirect_to_url.

For redirects within the same controller, you can even call follow_redirect and the redirect will be followed, triggering another action call which can then be asserted against.

Manipulating the request collections

The collections described above link to the response, so you can test if what the actions were expected to do happened. But sometimes you also want to manipulate these collections in the incoming request. This is really only relevant for sessions and cookies, though. For sessions, you just do:

@request.session[:key] = "value"
@request.cookies["key"] = "value"

Testing named routes

If you're using named routes, they can be easily tested using the original named routes' methods straight in the test case. Example:

assert_redirected_to page_url(:title => 'foo')
Included Modules
Class Public methods
# File actionpack/lib/action_controller/test_case.rb, line 170
def controller_class
  if current_controller_class = read_inheritable_attribute(:controller_class)
    self.controller_class = determine_default_controller_class(name)
# File actionpack/lib/action_controller/test_case.rb, line 165
def controller_class=(new_class)
  prepare_controller_class(new_class) if new_class
  write_inheritable_attribute(:controller_class, new_class)
# File actionpack/lib/action_controller/test_case.rb, line 178
def determine_default_controller_class(name)
  name.sub(/Test$/, '').constantize
rescue NameError
# File actionpack/lib/action_controller/test_case.rb, line 108
def initialize(*args)
  @controller = nil
# File actionpack/lib/action_controller/test_case.rb, line 184
def prepare_controller_class(new_class)
  new_class.send :include, RaiseActionExceptions

Sets the controller class name. Useful if the name can't be inferred from test class. Expects controller_classas a constant. Example: tests WidgetController.

# File actionpack/lib/action_controller/test_case.rb, line 161
def tests(controller_class)
  self.controller_class = controller_class
Instance Public methods

Cause the action to be rescued according to the regular rules for rescue_action when the visitor is not local

# File actionpack/lib/action_controller/test_case.rb, line 205
def rescue_action_in_public!
  @request.remote_addr = '' #
# File actionpack/lib/action_controller/test_case.rb, line 189
def setup_controller_request_and_response
  @request =
  @response =
  if klass = self.class.controller_class
    @controller ||= rescue nil
  if @controller
    @controller.request = @request
    @controller.params = {}