Putting Cucumber to Use
Titus Fortner
5 June 2013
• What exactly is a tool like Cucumber?
• Is it something I should use?
• What does it look like in practice?
• Why did I go out of my way to spend an hour
listening to this?
It isn’t Magic
(Your boss will not all of a sudden be able to write all of your automated tests)
Just an Abstraction Layer
• Given – Do all of the setting up
• When – Take the action under test
• Then – Verify results
Match the natural language strings with regex
With a line of code that you want to run
The line of code can be anything you want; it
doesn’t have to be for a functional test
For Instance
Current Code
user = owner_multiple_properties
Cucumber feature
Given I am logged in as an owner with multiple properties
Cucumber step
Given /^I am logged in as an owner(?: with )?(multiple
properties|a single property)?/ do |which_owner|
user = create_owner(which_owner)
Gherkin Abstraction Tools
Cucumber uses Ruby with RSpec matchers
Options are available in all languages
Cucumber, Lettuce, Robot Framework, JBehave
Cucumber != BDD / ATDD
These tools are often called BDD or ATDD tools
– Behavior Driven Development
– Acceptance Test Driven Development
(I hate that)
Natural language abstraction is useful for many
other things… Regression Tests, Smoke Tests,
“Living Documentation,” etc
Use vs Don’t Use
• Cucumber is useful
– Interface to interact with non-developers
• Business? Management? Manual testers?
– Distinguish Page Object unit tests (You are writing unit
tests for your page objects, right?) from functional tests
– Helps focus tests – more on this later…
• Cucumber is not useful
– Small set of tests
– Too much overhead
– Only developers will look at the tests
The Problem at HomeAway
• HomeAway site and features are complicated
– Dozens of services
– Dozens of brands with one-off features
– Constantly adding new features
• My Project is the Owner Dashboard
• Slowly rolling it out by brand
– 5 when I started
– 8 now
• All the manual testers were testing the entire
site; One day for each brand.
(That doesn’t scale)
Our Approach
• Updated project to Webdriver (because)
• Hundreds of Test Cases, many written in
cucumber format already by business analysts
• Re-wrote these with an automation mindset
– Build a vocabulary
– Use conventions
– Move from manual thought process to automated
(One action per test)
My conventions
Given I am logging to Test Case TC37300
And I am logged in as an owner with one
And I am viewing recent activity for an active
property listing
When I follow View Calendar link
Then I should see the current year calendar
Spot the Issues
Given I am an HAO User viewing the login page
And I am able to log in
When I type “mike” in the user name field
And I type “test” in the password field
And I click the submit button
Then I should see a welcome popup
When I cancel welcome popup
Then I should see my property information
And I should see my user name
And The header should say “This is your Property!”
And I should see my reviews summary links
Imperative vs Declarative
What does the consumers of your test care about?
-- Mike’s password?
-- How we welcome a user?
-- The content on the page?
-- The exact text of the header?
These are the most brittle kinds of tests
If this is in your Continuous Integration and your build fails as
a result of one of these, are you going to roll it back and fix it?
Insist on a high bar for what gets automation
Scenario: Log in
Given I am an Owner
And I am viewing the Login Page
When I log in with good credentials
Then I should be logged in
And I should see a welcome message
Scenario: Cancel the welcome
Given I am an Owner
And I have logged in
When I cancel the welcome message
Then I should see the Home Page
Steps Issues
Given /^I am an? (.*)user (.*) the (.*)
(modal|page)$/ do |a,b,c|
Matches things like:
“I am an awesome user automating the nifty
modal that does amazing things”
Scenario: Form Submission
Given I am logged in as an owner with multiple
And I am viewing <item_type> list page
When I submit <item_type>
Then I should see a success message
|a reservation|
|an inquiry|
|a review|
Cucumber Steps
Given /^I am logged in as an owner(?: with )?(multiple properties|a single
property)?/ do |which_owner|
user =‘ ‘,’_’)
Given /^I am viewing an? (reservation|inquiry|review) list page$/ do
@action_page = “#{page_type} list”
/^When I submit an? (reservation|inquiry|review)$/ do |submit_type|
@result_page = @action_page.send(“submit_#{submit_type}”)
/^Then I should see an? (success|error) message$/ do |message_type|
@result_page.send(“is_#{message_type}_displayed?”).should be_true
• Don’t nest steps!
– Abstract in your PageObjects
– It is ok to duplicate the PageObject call, the
implementation of the PageObject method can change,
which object and the method name “shouldn’t”
• Be careful with complicated Regex
– Just because you can make it work, doesn’t mean you
• Adapt methods to your test language, not the other
way around
Cuke Approach Improves Testing
• Helps enforce the idea that the test language
should never change unless the business logic
• Feature language informs the method names 
more understandable
• Matching vocabulary between page objects
• Breaks the focus into concrete chunks (easier to
muddle things in Rspec/xUnit type tests
• Each chunk is ideally one line to let the Page
Object do all the work
• Really helps distingush the ‘What’ from the ‘How’
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