Testing Solr and Sunspot (locally and on CircleCI)

David Eisinger, Development Director

Article Categories: #Code, #Back-end Engineering

Posted on

All the configuration necessary to test your Solr- and Sunspot-powered search.

I don't usually write complex search systems, but when I do, I reach for Solr and the awesome Sunspot gem. I pulled them into a recent client project, and while Sunspot makes it a breeze to define your search indicies and queries, its testing philosophy can best be described as "figure it out yourself, smartypants."

I found a seven-year old code snippet that got me most of the way, but needed to make some updates to make it compatible with modern RSpec and account for a delay on Circle between Solr starting and being available to index documents. Here's the resulting config, which should live in spec/support/sunspot.rb:

require 'sunspot/rails/spec_helper'
require 'net/http'

try_server = proc do |uri|
    response = Net::HTTP.get_response uri
    response.code != "503"
  rescue Errno::ECONNREFUSED

start_server = proc do |timeout|
  server = Sunspot::Rails::Server.new
  uri = URI.parse("{server.port}/solr/default/update?wt=json")

  try_server[uri] or begin
    at_exit { server.stop }

    timeout.times.any? do
      sleep 1

original_session = nil # always nil between specs
sunspot_server   = nil # one server shared by all specs

if defined? Spork
  Spork.prefork do
    sunspot_server = start_server[60] if Spork.using_spork?

RSpec.configure do |config|
  config.before(:each) do |example|
    if example.metadata[:solr]
      sunspot_server ||= start_server[60] || raise("SOLR connection timeout")
      original_session = Sunspot.session
      Sunspot.session = Sunspot::Rails::StubSessionProxy.new(original_session)

  config.after(:each) do |example|
    if example.metadata[:solr]
      Sunspot.session = original_session

    original_session = nil

(Fork me at https://gist.github.com/dce/3a9b5d8623326214f2e510839e2cac26.)

With this code in place, pass solr: true as RSpec metadata1 to your describe, context, and it blocks to test against a live Solr instance, and against a stub instance otherwise.

A couple other Sunspot-related things

While I've got you here, thinking about search, here are a few other neat tricks to make working with Sunspot and Solr easier.

Use Foreman to start all the things

Install the Foreman gem and create a Procfile like so:

rails: bundle exec rails server -p 3000
webpack: bin/webpack-dev-server
solr: bundle exec rake sunspot:solr:run

Then you can boot up all your processes with a simple foreman start.

Configure Sunspot to use the same Solr instance in dev and test

By default, Sunspot wants to run two different Solr processes, listening on two different ports, for the development and test environments. You only need one instance of Solr running — it'll handle setting up a "core" for each environment. Just set the port to the same number in config/sunspot.yml to avoid starting up and shutting down Solr every time you run your test suite.

Sunspot doesn't reindex automatically in test mode

Just a little gotcha: typically, Sunspot updates the index after every update to an indexed model, but not so in test mode. You'll need to run some combo of Sunspot.commit and [ModelName].reindex after making changes that you want to test against.

That's all I've got. Have a #blessed Tuesday and a happy holiday season.

1. e.g. describe "viewing the list of speakers", solr: true do

David Eisinger

David is Viget's managing development director. From our Durham, NC, office, he builds high-quality, forward-thinking software for PUMA, the World Wildlife Fund, NFLPA, and many others.

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