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What Is Cucumber Framework? A Comprehensive Guide

Cucumber Framework
Posted On: 27 October 2023

Cucumber testing tool is a framework whose goal is to help unify the development, testing, and documentation of feature specifications for engineers, testers, and analysts alike. In this post, we'll look at what is Cucumber Framework and how it can help you and deepen your understanding into effectively implementing in your projects.

What is Cucumber Framework?

Cucumber Framework is a key tool in Behavior Driven Development (BDD), known for bridging the gap between technical teams and business stakeholders. It operates on executable specifications written in Gherkin, a plain language accessible to all team members, fostering inclusivity and collaboration.

Its emphasis on clear communication minimizes misunderstandings, streamlining the development process. Its compatibility with multiple programming languages like Java, Ruby, and .Net further enhances its adaptability in various software development settings.

When to Use Cucumber Framework

Understanding when to implement Cucumber is key to maximizing its benefits in your project. Here are some ideal scenarios for its implementation:

Enhanced Team Communication:

  • Best for: Projects requiring close collaboration between developers, testers, and business analysts.
  • Why it works: Facilitates clear, consistent communication using natural language.

Complex Projects with Clear Requirements:

  • Best for: Projects where a precise understanding of requirements is crucial.
  • Why it works: Translating technical specifications into understandable language ensures unified project goals.

Living Documentation:

  • Best for: Teams prioritizing up-to-date documentation of their systems.
  • Why it works: Gherkin specifications serve as both documentation and test scripts.

Extensive End-to-End Testing:

  • Best for: Projects needing thorough testing from the user’s perspective.
  • Why it works: Validates that software behaves as expected in real-world scenarios.

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Which Language is Used for Cucumber Testing?

Cucumber testing framework primarily utilizes Gherkin, a domain-specific language designed for writing test cases in a way that is understandable by all stakeholders. Gherkin's syntax is straightforward and human-readable, making it an ideal choice for expressing software behavior without delving into technical details.

Gherkin - A Universal Language for Testing:

Gherkin's simplicity is its strength. It uses plain English (or other supported languages) with keywords like feature, scenario, given, when, then, and but. This approach allows for the creation of clear, concise, and readable test cases.

Support for Multiple Programming Languages:

While Gherkin is used for writing test scenarios, Cucumber seamlessly integrates these scenarios with step definitions written in various programming languages. This includes widely used languages like Java, Ruby, and JavaScript, allowing teams to leverage their existing programming skills and resources.

The Role of Gherkin in Cucumber Testing:

Gherkin acts as a bridge between technical and non technical teams, helping developers to business analysts collaborate effectively. This universality makes Gherkin and by extension Cucumber, a powerful tool in modern software development.

How to Start with Cucumber Testing?

Understand the Basics of BDD and Gherkin:

Before diving into Cucumber, familiarize yourself with Behavior-Driven Development (BDD) principles and the Gherkin language. This foundational knowledge is crucial for the effective use of Cucumber.

Choose a Programming Language:

Decide on the programming language you will use for writing your step definitions. Cucumber supports several languages, including Java, Ruby, and .NET.

Install Cucumber:

Install Cucumber on your system. This process will vary depending on your chosen programming language and development environment.

Set Up Your First Feature File:

Create a feature file in Gherkin. This file will contain your first test scenario, described in a format that Cucumber can understand.

Write Step Definitions:

For each step in your Gherkin scenario, write corresponding step definitions. These are the actual code snippets that will execute the steps of your test.

Run Your Test:

Execute the test to see if your scenario passes or fails. This will validate whether the software behaves as expected according to your Gherkin scenario.

Iterate and Expand:

Continue adding more feature files and step definitions, expanding your test coverage and refining your testing process.

How to Set Up Cucumber Testing?

Setting up Cucumber testing framework involves several key steps to ensure a smooth and efficient testing process. Here’s a guide to get you started:

Choose Your Development Environment:

Select an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that supports Cucumber and your preferred programming language (e.g., IntelliJ IDEA, Eclipse).

Install Cucumber:

Depending on your programming language, install Cucumber through the respective package manager (like Maven for Java, RubyGems for Ruby).

Set Up Your Project:

Create a new project in your IDE and set up the necessary directories for your feature files and step definitions.

Write Your First Feature File:

In the ‘features’ directory, create a .feature file and write your first scenario using Gherkin syntax.

Implement Step Definitions:

Create a new directory for your step definitions. Write the Java, Ruby, or JavaScript code that will execute the steps outlined in your feature file.

Configure Cucumber Runner:

Set up a Cucumber runner class. This class will be used to execute the feature files and step definitions.

Integrate with a Build Tool (Optional):

For larger projects, integrate Cucumber with a build automation tool like Maven, Gradle for Java, or Rake for Ruby.

Run Your Tests:

Execute your tests from your IDE or the command line to see if they pass or fail.

Continuous Integration (Optional):

Set up continuous integration (CI) for ongoing projects to automate your testing with each build.

Different Types of Cucumber Testing

Cucumber's adaptability allows it to be used for various testing types. Each type addresses specific aspects of software quality assurance:

Functional Testing:

Verifying that each software function operates in conformance with the required specification. This involves creating feature files that describe and test various functionalities to ensure they meet business requirements.

Regression Testing:

Focused on identifying regressions, this involves re-running tests that have previously passed to ensure that recent changes haven't adversely affected existing functionality.

End-to-End Testing:

Assessing the complete flow of an application from start to finish, ensuring all integrated components work together as expected. This typically covers multiple features and scenarios, simulating real user scenarios.

Integration Testing:

Concentrating on the points where different system components interact, this type of testing ensures that modules or services work together seamlessly, highlighting interface defects.

Acceptance Testing:

Aimed at verifying the system fulfills business requirements, often based on user stories. Acceptance tests confirm that the overall functionality is as expected by the end user.

Smoke Testing:

A preliminary testing type to check the basic functionality of the application. It's a quick, high-level test to ensure the major features of the software are working correctly.

Benefits of Cucumber Testing

  • Bridges gap between technical and non-technical team members.
  • Facilitates clear, consistent communication using Gherkin.
  • Ideal for Behavior-Driven Development (BDD).
  • Compatible with Agile development processes.
  • Feature files double as up-to-date documentation.
  • Easily integrates with various CI tools and programming languages.
  • Supports automated testing for CI/CD pipelines.
  • Reduces misunderstandings and defects due to clear syntax.

Common Problems with Cucumber Testing

  • Steep learning curve for new users, especially in BDD and Gherkin.
  • Writing and maintaining Gherkin scenarios can be time-consuming.
  • Slower test execution compared to traditional unit tests.
  • Integration with existing projects or environments can be challenging.
  • Potential for misuse in inappropriate testing types, leading to redundancy.
  • Managing test data for complex scenarios is challenging.
  • Relies heavily on clear, well-defined requirements.

The Bottom Line

Given the market inclination towards stakeholder inclusion and adherence to software-as-a-service initiatives, Cucumber can help companies improve their products, cut down on implementation time and resources, and scale swiftly. However, Gherkin, which is the cornerstone of Cucumber, can be difficult to use. Text editors cannot read its syntax as a regular language.

If you want an easy-to-use, low-code test automation tool, look at ACCELQ. It is your tool for BDD – it empowers business users by allowing them to write action logic in natural English.

Geosley Andrades

Director, Product Evangelist at ACCELQ

Geosley is a Test Automation Evangelist and Community builder at ACCELQ. Being passionate about continuous learning, Geosley helps ACCELQ with innovative solutions to transform test automation to be simpler, more reliable, and sustainable for the real world.

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