Fast Integration Tests with Clearance::Backdoor

It is common in web application integration tests to require a signed in user. RSpec and Capybara tests for a Rails application could look like this:

visit root_path
fill_in "Email", with: ""
fill_in "Password", with: "password"
click_on "Sign In"
# ...

This is redundant and makes the test suite slow if we write the same setup for every test that requires a signed in user.

If Clearance is being used for authentication, a back door can be inserted as Rack middleware. Instead of visiting, loading, and submitting the sign in form, it directly sets the designated user's ID into the session.

In config/environments/test.rb:

MyRailsApp::Application.configure do
  # ...
  config.middleware.use Clearance::BackDoor
  # ...

Then, include a user in an as parameter in integration tests:

visit dashboard_path(as: user)

It works for any URL:

visit new_feedback_path(as: giver)

The speed increase can be substantial. On one project using this technique, the test suite time was reduced 23%.