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What Is Gherkin & How Do You Write Gherkin Tests?

Unit Tests
When it comes to writing and testing software, teams have a lot of alternatives. How do you know what syntax to use and which testing solution is best for you? In this post, we'll look at how to utilize Gherkin and Gherkin tests. We'll go through the syntax, how to construct a test, and the benefits and drawbacks.

Under the appropriate conditions, these choices can be a smart decision since Test Automation is the most effective technique to improve software testing effectiveness, test coverage, and execution speed, although there are some things to be considered before you dive in. 

Before we get into what Gherkin is and how to construct Gherkin tests, there are a few things we need go over. It's critical to understand the role of Behavior-Driven Development (BDD) and how it interacts with Cucumber and Gherkin.

What is BBD?

Behavior-Driven Development (BDD) is a development process that promotes team collaboration. This collaborative approach integrates the commercial and technical sides of projects. This strategy enables teams to more easily communicate needs, spot problems early on, and maintain software over time.

Teams who employ BBD have a few objectives. The first step is to ensure that everyone on the team understands the criteria. The teams may therefore concentrate on preventing potential problems rather than putting out flames if they arise. This frequently implies that less rework is necessary.

This evolution may be split into two parts. Discovery and testing

Before beginning work, teams must first determine what they don't know. Then they'll have a better idea of how to remain on track and be more productive.

When it comes to testing, the process of considering these tests begins before development begins. Tests are created to guide the implementation and final result.

What is Cucumber?

Cucumber is a free and open-source software testing tool that works with BBD (Behavior-Driven Development). It works with Gherkin because Gherkin syntax arranges plain text such that the tool can read it.Cucumber was first launched ten years ago as a tool to assist Ruby developers with requirements testing. They were an early supporter of the BDD technique. Gherkin is their domain specialized language for BDD. 

Cucumber reads Gherkin tests and certifies that the code works properly. It accomplishes this by executing Gherkin scenarios and stages. (More on this later.) Cucumber will then provide a report indicating whether or not each step and scenario was successful.

What is Gherkin?

Gherkin is a programming language used by Cucumber developers to define tests that allows product teams to describe needs for new products. Every feature in Gherkin is specified in a.feature file and adheres to a strict syntax. Each line in the file begins with a Gherkin keyword and specifies a different component of the feature. The goal is to develop clear definitions for each characteristic, which can subsequently be rigorously evaluated. Gherkin is meant to be human-readable, but, like other formats such as XML, it is not intended to be machine-readable.

This vocabulary encourages Behavior-Driven Development by allowing developers, managers, business analysts, and other stakeholders to grasp the project's and life-cycle needs.

The language facilitates the creation of basic documentation for the code that is being created. Gherkin also offers test automation scripts and supports dozens of languages.

Development based on behavior

What's the point of Gherkin?


Gherkin tests: How to Write Them

To create Gherkin tests, you must first grasp some of the terminology and what it means in practice. The following is a list of the most often used keywords in Gherkin syntax.

  • Feature
  • Rule
  • Example
  • Given, When, Then, And, But
  • Background
  • Scenario Outline

Each keyword is essential to the process of creating an excellent Gherkin test. Let's take a deeper look at these keywords and how they might be used to create Gherkin tests.

Feature

This term appears at the beginning of Gherkin documents, followed by content that offers a description. To put it another way, a feature is a description of what the software is meant to perform. This term is also used to categorize circumstances.

This isn't really for testing, but it does allow you to add requirements and business rules documentation. When you begin a new line with one of the other keywords, such as scenario overview, example, or rule, the description section comes to an end.

Descriptions

If necessary, free-form descriptions can be added beneath the keywords specified above, as long as none of your lines begin with a keyword.

Rule

The rule keyword represents a single business rule that must be provided. This sets the stage for a feature. These "rules" should have more than one scenario to demonstrate the rule, as well as a background section. (See details below.)

Gherkin Steps

Let's look at some of the processes in Gherkin testing now. Given, When, Then, And, or But are examples of these.

Given

The procedures given establish the setting for the situation. Most of the time, these phases explain something that happened in the past. This provides context to the system before a user interacts with it. As a result, you should skip over user interactions at this stage. Consider what you add as preconditions in this phase.

It should be noted that you can have more than one Given step.

When

When steps are followed by actions. They provide information about an event. An event triggered by another system or a user interacting with it are two examples. It's best if you only have one when step for each case.

Then

Then steps are results steps. This is the section in which you describe what you want the system to accomplish so that it may be compared to how the program really works in practice. This should be something visible as a result, such as a message or report.

And, But

When you have multiples of one of the above-mentioned step kinds, you may use and or but. This aids in the organization and readability of your documentation.

Background

As previously said, the backdrop allows you to provide additional context to the situations in a feature. This is where you can have many steps if necessary.

Please keep in mind that each feature can only have one background stage. If you want more background tasks, you will need to build separate feature files.

Outline of the Scenario

An examples section is included in the scenario outline. These instructions are read as if they were a template. Except for the header row, the scenario overview repeats once for each row in the example section.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Gherkin

You may be wondering how to determine if writing a Gherkin test is the right option for your team now that you know how to write one. The fact is that there are both Pros and Cons to utilizing Gherkin and Cucumber. Let's look at a couple of them in more detail.

Gherkin is easy

Gherkin is simple to grasp for both engineers and corporate leaders. In some ways, it's "non-technical," making cross-team communication simpler.

focuses on project specifications

The Gherkin syntax and this style of testing are extremely focused on the project and business needs. This guarantees that the development process is designed with the user's experience in mind.

Code re-use

Because of the way these tests are written, it is easy to reuse sections of the code from other tests. This can add up to significant savings in terms of time, money, and resources.

Not suitable for all tasks

Gherkin Plus Cucumber is not suitable for all projects. This strategy may be used to postpone short tasks that require a lot of testing. While BBD has its place, this method of thinking and implementing these tests might cause project delays.

It requires a significant amount of participation

Depending on your team's development process, this might be a pro or a drawback. Gherkin and cucumber, as previously indicated, work hand in hand with behavior-driven programming. This implies that your team must continually collaborate, which may not always be appropriate for your project.

Possibly Expensive

Though these tests may be quicker to create, a badly written test might result in a significant amount of extra time and money lost if tests must be rewritten. Unless developers are well-versed with Gherkin and Cucumber, this form of testing might pose a significant expensive risk.

The Gherkin's Future

At Functionize, we think that moving away from Gherkin is the way of the future and will result in greater results. Gherkin is one method for writing test plans, but it is not the end of the process. Developers must still develop test scripts. This approach can consume a significant amount of time that developers could be spending elsewhere.

Gherkin is a fantastic place to start when it comes to including non-technical individuals into automated testing.


TestQuality and Gherkin

TestQuality's import capabilities also allow you to import requirements, tests, and issues by uploading Gherkin Feature Files easily with an import data option menu even when using a Gherkin based Test results JSON file.

Gherkin feature files can be uploaded via TestQuality REST interface via curl, a popular command line tool.

Once your file has been added, you can optionally choose a Cycle and Milestone that you would like to link to your Test Run result.

Gherkin Feature Files to import Test Cases to TestQuality

Gherkin Feature Files with your tests can be easily imported with TestQuality


TestQuality is designed around a live integration core that allows TQ to communicate directly with GitHub and integrate with Jira in real-time linking issues and requirements with the key tools in your DevOps workflows.

TestQuality's integration engine also allows you to connect to pull in automated test results from popular CI/CD, Test Automation, and Unit Testing systems.

If you are using a CI platform such as Jenkins, Cloudbees, Circle CI, Travis CI and want to upload your test results, you can add TestQuality to your scripts. 

To connect via command line, you can use the command files TestQuality CLI (Command Line Interface) then using the file from your system, log in with username and password, or we can provide you with a personal access token so you do not have to provide your login details in the command.

>> Join now and Try TestQuality for Free!

Final Thoughts

When you need everyone on the team to be informed without delving into technical details, Gherkin and Cucumber might be an excellent alternative. However, in the long run, this combination may make test automation more difficult than necessary.

The option is yours, but before you do, thoroughly analyze the benefits and drawbacks of each syntax and solution. The most crucial thing is that you and your team have access to the appropriate tools for your development tasks.

This blog discussed what Gherkin testing is, how to construct Gherkin tests, and the advantages and disadvantages of utilizing this syntax. We hope this has provided you with some ideas on the best language and testing alternatives for your next project.


As we have previously described, TestQuality easily imports Gherkin Feature Files and it has all the test management capabilities you need for creating, maintaining, organizing, and running tests, but TestQuality is different from other test management tools in that it is purpose built for GitHub and Jira workflows and designed to be integrated with virtually all test automation and unit testing tools. Put simply, TestQuality is the first test management system designed to integrate into your DevOps workflow and tools.