Getting Started with Cucumber Testing: A Practical Tutorial

Gyansetu Team Software Testing

Cucumber is a testing tool that provides support for the Behavior Driven Development (BDD) framework. It allows the definition of application behavior using simple English text, which is defined by a language known as Gherkin.

Cucumber facilitates the automation of functional validation, making it highly readable and understandable. At first, Cucumber was implemented in Ruby and then later extended to include a Java framework. These tools smoothly merge with native JUnit.

Read further to learn more about the Cucumber testing and the examples for a great understanding.

What is Cucumber Testing?

Before diving into the tutorial, it is important to know what Cucumber Testing is. It is a tool for Behavior Driven Development (BDD) to create test cases that check how software functions. It’s a valuable asset in automated testing.

In a simple way, Cucumber is a software tool used by testers to create test cases for checking how software behaves.

Cucumber is very essential for building acceptance test cases while automating tests. It’s particularly helpful in writing tests for web applications based on their behavior.

Cucumber follows the principles of BDD, focusing on observing how software functions.

In Cucumber testing, test cases are written in plain English, making them understandable to anyone, even without technical knowledge. This type of English is known as the Gherkin language.

Cucumber enables business analysts, developers, testers, and others to automate functional checks in a clear and easy-to-read format, such as plain English.

Cucumber can be used simultaneously with tools like Selenium, Watir, and Capybara and supports different programming languages like .Net, PHP, Python, and Perl.

Role of BDD in Cucumber Testing

Now that we know about cucumber testing, it is important to learn about Behavior Driven Development or BDD. To improve software testing, organizations are now using a method called Behavior Driven Development (BDD). In BDD, important acceptance test scenarios are created while the software is still being developed. This involves partnerships between developers, quality assurance (QA) teams, project managers, user acceptance testers, and the product owner.

When they get together, they analyze and identify the test scenarios importation for the software to be considered successful. These scenarios are documented in simple English language, making them accessible to everyone involved in the project. With this approach, you will get a great understanding of the software’s behavior from both the developer’s and customer’s perspectives.

Types of Cucumber Tests

Cucumber testing is versatile and can be used for different purposes in software testing. Here are the main types of Cucumber tests:

  1. Acceptance Tests: These tests check if the application meets the customer’s needs. They use Gherkin syntax for writing test scenarios.
  2. Functional Tests: These tests check if the application functions correctly as expected. They are written in programming languages like Ruby or JavaScript.
  3. Unit Tests: These tests assess specific code units to ensure they work correctly. Unit tests are also written in programming languages like Ruby or JavaScript.
  4. Integration Tests: These tests check if different parts of the application work together as intended. Like functional tests, they are written in programming languages.

How to Set up Cucumber Testing for Your Project?

If you’re working on a project that follows a Behavior-Driven Development (BDD) framework, you can use Cucumber testing to build up communication and collaboration. Cucumber testing is a method for analyzing how software works, especially in BDD-style applications. The unique aspect of Cucumber tests is that they are written in plain language, making them accessible to everyone and promoting effective communication among team members.

To get started with Cucumber testing for your project, follow these steps:

  1. Download the Cucumber command-line tool.
  2. Make a new file with a .feature extension. In this file, describe the feature you want to test and outline the scenarios you plan to assess.
  3. Write your scenarios in Gherkin format, making sure they include the Given, Then, and When steps.
  4. Use the Cucumber command-line tool for running your tests.

When you’re prepared to write your tests, make sure that you generate a .feature file that defines the features and outlines individual test scenarios you desire. Each scenario should be expressed in Gherkin format and follow the Given, When, and Then structure. After creating your .feature file, execute your tests using the Cucumber command-line tool, which will help in processing your file and carrying out the specified scenarios.

How Cucumber Testing Works?

Cucumber testing includes writing test cases alongside software development. These test cases are written using a language called Gherkin.

This is how it works:

  1. Cucumber reads the test steps written in Gherkin or plain English from a feature file.
  2. It looks for matching test step definitions in a separate file.
  3. When a match is found, it executes the test case and reports if it passes or fails.
  4. The software code must align with the defined test scripts in BDD. If not, code refactoring is needed.
  5. The code is considered stable only after successfully passing the defined test scripts.

Features of Cucumber Testing

In BDD, the code and test scripts go together. First, you prepare the code, and simultaneously, you create test scripts according to BDD standards. The code has to pass these predefined test scripts successfully. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to refactor the code until it does. When the code passes these tests, it will be considered complete and “frozen.”

For implementing this concept effectively, you will require a tool like the Behavior Driven Development (BDD) Framework, with Cucumber being a very popular open-source option. Cucumber is different from the other testing tools, as it can interpret plain English text as test instructions, acting as documentation, automated tests, and development aid at one go.

To sum up, Cucumber Texting helps in: 

  • Interpreting Plain English: Cucumber reads code written in plain English text (known as the Gherkin language, which will be discussed later) from a feature file.
  • Matching Steps: It identifies matching steps in the step definition, which is basically a code file.
  • Providing Execution Variety: Cucumber can execute code using various software frameworks like Selenium, Ruby on Rails, and more. Not all BDD framework tools are compatible with all these software frameworks.

Cucumber’s ability to support multiple software platforms, like Ruby on Rails, Selenium, PicoContainer, Spring Framework, and Watir, has contributed to its popularity over other BDD frameworks like JBehave, JDave, and Easyb.

When can you use Cucumber Testing?

Cucumber testing is a valuable resource for teams looking for better communication while avoiding mistakes. It’s very flexible and can evaluate different applications. There are several types of Cucumber tests, like acceptance, functional, unit, and integration tests. You can trust Cucumber testing to check if an application works correctly or to confirm that its components collaborate as intended.

Tips to Write Effective Cucumber Tests

Here are some useful tips for creating successful Cucumber tests:

  1. Utilize a tool like Cucumber Studio to manage your Cucumber test project.
  2. Compose your scenarios in Gherkin syntax.
  3. Ensure your scenarios contain the Given, When, and Then steps.
  4. Keep your scenarios clear and brief.
  5. Execute your tests using the Cucumber command-line tool.
  6. Use additional tools to help you write and run Cucumber tests and avoid redundancy with background keywords.
  7. Organize and run particular scenarios by using tags.

Common Cucumber Testing Issues and Solutions

When working with Cucumber, there are some common problems that might arise. Some of the tips for addressing the issues are listed below: 

  1. Ensure that your test scenarios are easy to understand and maintain.
  2. Organize and execute specific scenarios by using tags. This keeps your tests well-organized and lets you run only the scenarios you need.
  3. Use the “background” keyword to define steps that should run before each scenario. This prevents duplication and enhances scenario readability.
  4. Place your .feature files in the correct directory where you run the Cucumber command to avoid test execution problems.

If you encounter difficulties, remember that online resources are available to help you troubleshoot any issues.

Advantages of Cucumber

Cucumber offers several advantages compared to other testing tools:

  1. Language Support: Cucumber supports multiple programming languages like Java, .NET, and Ruby.
  2. Bridging Business and Technical Language: It acts as a bridge between non-technical stakeholders and technical teams by allowing test cases to be written in plain English text.
  3. Non-Programmer Involvement: Cucumber enables non-programmers to participate in the testing process because tests can be written without coding knowledge.
  4. End-to-end Testing: It serves as an end-to-end testing framework, covering various aspects of an application.
  5. Code Reusability: Cucumber promotes code reusability through its simple test script architecture.

Cucumber’s flexibility and ease of use make it a valuable tool for testing various types of applications.

Final Verdict 

Overall, Cucumber is a versatile tool for Behavior Driven Development (BDD), which uses plain Gherkin for defining application behavior. It automates functional validation, supports multiple programming languages, and fosters collaboration. 


Gyansetu Team

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