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Capybara 2.0 Upgrade Guide

by Jo Liss (@jo_liss)

The Capybara 2.0.0 beta is out. I’ll walk you through the most important changes, and show you how to upgrade.

The bad news: If you upgrade to Capybara 2.0.0, you may have to make some changes to your test suite to get it passing.

The good news: Once you’re compatible with Capybara 2.0.0, you can probably go back and forth between 1.1.2 and 2.0.0 without any changes, should you decide that 2.0.0 is not for you (yet).

Compatibility Notes

Third-party drivers like WebKit or Poltergeist are not yet compatible with Capybara 2.0. Use the default :selenium driver in the meantime.

Also, Capybara 2.0 will likely drop Ruby 1.8.7 compatibility.

How to Upgrade

The latest 2.0.0 beta release is two months old. I recommend you use Capybara master, since it has some fixes, and is generally in better shape than the beta:

group :test do
  gem 'capybara', git: '', ref: '7fa75e55420e'

Update: Capybara master is having some changes that still need to be synchronized with rspec-rails (#809). If you are using RSpec, specify the ref: as above in the meantime.

There is one major change that will likely cause breakage in your test suite, and that is how Capybara handles ambiguous matches:

Ambiguous Matches

The find method, as well as most actions like click_on, fill_in, etc., now raise an error if more than one element is found. While in Capybara 1.1.2, it would simply select the first matching element, now the matches have to be unambiguous.

Here is a common way this can break your test suite:

fill_in 'Password', with: 'secret'
fill_in 'Password confirmation', with: 'secret'

The first fill_in will fail now, because searching for “Password” will match both the “Password” label, and the “Password confirmation” label (as a sub-string), so it’s not unambiguous.

The best way to fix this is to match against the name or id attribute – such as fill_in 'password', with: 'secret' – or, when there’s no good name or id, add auxiliary .js-password and .js-password-confirmation classes. (The js- prefix is for behavioral classes as recommended in the GitHub styleguide.)

find('.js-password').set 'secret'
find('.js-password-confirmation').set 'secret'

I find that using .js- classes instead of matching against English text is actually a good practice in general to keep your tests from getting brittle.

Should you absolutely need to get the old behavior, you can use the first method:

click_on 'ambiguous' # old
first(:link, 'ambiguous').click # new

Minor changes

You can assume that these don’t affect you unless something breaks:

  • The RackTest driver – that’s the fast default driver, when you’re not using js: true – no longer respects Rails’s data-method attribute unless you tell it to. Update: The behavior matches Capybara 1.1.2 again (#793), so long as you have require 'capybara/rails' (like you should in any case).

  • The find(:my_id) symbol syntax is no longer supported (#783). Write find('#my_id') instead, as recommended in the documentation.

  • has_content? checks for substrings in text, rather than using XPath contains(...) expressions. This means improved whitespace normalization, and suppression of invisible elements, like head, script, etc.

  • select and unselect don’t allow for substring matches anymore.

  • Capybara.server_boot_timeout and Capybara.prefer_visible_elements are no longer needed and have been removed.

  • Capybara.timeout and wait_until have been removed, as well as the Selenium driver’s :resynchronize option. In general, if you have to wait for Ajax requests to come back, like before you should try using page.should have_content or page.should have_css to search for some change on the page that indicates that the request has completed. The check will essentially act as a gate for the Ajax request, as it will poll repeatedly until the condition is true. If that doesn’t work for you, you could implement your own simple wait_for helper method (see e.g. this gist). See also this thread about wait_until going away.


These won’t break your code when you upgrade, but they’re sweet new additions:

  • Lots of new selectors, like find(:field, '...'), etc. These can come in handy if you find yourself doing intricate node finding. Check the add_selector calls in lib/capybara/selector.rb for a list.

  • has_content? accepts regexes.


Any speed bumps I forgot to mention? Leave a comment.

If you need help with problems, ask away on the mailing list! To report reproducible bugs or suggest changes in Capybara, open an issue in the issue tracker. Jonas and I are monitoring both.

Even better, send a pull request! We’ll love you for it.