Cucumber Test Automation: The Best Proven Practices and Innovations

Cucumber is a powerful tool for behaviour-driven development (BDD), allowing software teams to describe how software should behave in plain text. This makes it accessible to all stakeholders, including non-technical ones. 

By integrating Cucumber into your test automation strategy, you can improve collaboration, ensure better understanding of requirements, and create more maintainable test scripts. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the best practices and advanced techniques for leveraging Cucumber in your test automation efforts.

 For those looking to master these skills, Java Selenium Training in Bangalore can provide the necessary expertise and practical knowledge.

Understanding Cucumber and BDD

Cucumber enables writing of test scenarios in a language called Gherkin, which is designed to be easy to understand by everyone involved in the development process. Gherkin uses a set of special keywords to define the behaviour of the application in a Given-When-Then format:

  • Given: Describes the initial context or state.
  • When: Specifies the action that triggers a specific behaviour.
  • Then: Describes the expected outcome or result.

Here’s a simple example:

gherkin

Feature: User Login

 Scenario: Successful login with valid credentials

    Given the user is on the login page

    When the user enters valid credentials

    Then the user is redirected to the homepage

Best Practices for Using Cucumber

1.Write Clear and Concise Scenarios
Keep your Gherkin scenarios simple and focused on a single behavior. Each scenario should be clear and easy to understand, avoiding technical jargon. This makes it easier for all team members to comprehend and contribute to the tests.

2.Use Descriptive Feature and Scenario Titles
Titles should provide a clear indication of what the feature or scenario tests. This helps in quickly identifying the purpose of the test, especially when dealing with a large number of scenarios.
gherkin

Feature: User Authentication

Scenario: Successful login with valid credentials

  Given the user is on the login page

  When the user enters valid credentials

  Then the user is redirected to the homepage

3.Keep Scenarios Independent
Each scenario should be able to run independently of others. This ensures that tests do not fail due to dependencies on the execution of previous tests, making your test suite more robust.

4.Avoid Hardcoding Data
Use placeholders for data within your Gherkin scenarios. This allows you to reuse scenarios with different sets of data, making your tests more flexible and maintainable.
gherkin

Scenario Outline: Login with different credentials

  Given the user is on the login page

¬†¬†When the user enters “<username>” and “<password>”

¬†¬†Then the user sees a “<message>”

  Examples:

    | username | password | message          |

    | user1    | pass1    | Login successful |

    | user2    | pass2    | Login successful |

5.Use Backgrounds Wisely
Backgrounds in Cucumber are used to define a common set of steps that are run before each scenario in a feature. While useful, they should not be overused. Keep the Background section minimal and only include steps that are truly common to all scenarios.
gherkin

Feature: User Authentication

Background:

  Given the user is on the login page

Scenario: Successful login with valid credentials

  When the user enters valid credentials

  Then the user is redirected to the homepage

Scenario: Unsuccessful login with invalid credentials

  When the user enters invalid credentials

  Then the user sees an error message

6.Leverage Tags for Organizing Tests
Tags help in categorizing and running specific sets of tests. This is particularly useful in large projects where you may want to run a subset of tests based on certain criteria, such as smoke tests, regression tests, or tests related to a specific feature.
gherkin

@smoke

Scenario: Successful login with valid credentials

  Given the user is on the login page

  When the user enters valid credentials

  Then the user is redirected to the homepage

Advanced Techniques in Cucumber

1.Custom Parameter Types
Cucumber allows you to define custom parameter types, making your step definitions more readable and maintainable. This is useful when you have specific data types that appear frequently in your scenarios.
java

// Define custom parameter type in a step definitions class

@ParameterType(“.*”)

public CustomType customType(String input) {

    return new CustomType(input);

}

@When(“the user performs an action with {customType}”)

public void theUserPerformsAnActionWith(CustomType customType) {

    // Step implementation

}

2.Hooks for Setup and Teardown
Hooks are blocks of code that run at various points in the Cucumber execution cycle, such as before or after each scenario. They are useful for setting up and cleaning up test environments, ensuring that each scenario starts with a clean slate.
java

@Before

public void setUp() {

    // Code to set up test environment

}

@After

public void tearDown() {

    // Code to clean up after tests

}

3.Sharing State Between Steps
Sharing state between steps can be challenging, especially in a stateless testing environment. Cucumber provides a way to share state using dependency injection frameworks like PicoContainer, Spring, or Guice.
java

public class StepDefinitions {

    private SharedState sharedState;

    public StepDefinitions(SharedState sharedState) {

        this.sharedState = sharedState;

    }

¬†¬†¬†¬†@Given(“the user is logged in”)

    public void theUserIsLoggedIn() {

        sharedState.setLoggedIn(true);

    }

¬†¬†¬†¬†@Then(“the user should see the dashboard”)

    public void theUserShouldSeeTheDashboard() {

        assertTrue(sharedState.isLoggedIn());

    }

}

4.Integrating with Test Management Tools
Integrating Cucumber with test management tools like JIRA, TestRail, or Zephyr can streamline your testing process and provide better visibility into test results. This integration helps in tracking test progress, managing test cases, and generating reports.

5.Parallel Execution
Running tests in parallel can significantly reduce the time it takes to execute your test suite. Cucumber supports parallel execution through various plugins and frameworks. This is particularly useful in large projects where test suites can become extensive.
json

// Example of configuring parallel execution in a Maven project

<plugin>

    <groupId>org.apache.maven.plugins</groupId>

    <artifactId>maven-surefire-plugin</artifactId>

    <version>2.22.0</version>

    <configuration>

        <parallel>methods</parallel>

        <threadCount>4</threadCount>

    </configuration>

</plugin>

  1.  

6.Advanced Reporting
Cucumber provides several reporting options to enhance the visibility of test results. Plugins like Cucumber Reports, Allure, and Extent Reports can generate detailed and visually appealing reports, helping stakeholders understand the test outcomes.
java

// Example of integrating Cucumber with Extent Reports

@After

public void tearDown(Scenario scenario) {

    if (scenario.isFailed()) {

        // Add screenshot and failure details to the report

    }

    // Add scenario details to the report

}

Combining Cucumber with Selenium

Cucumber is often used in conjunction with Selenium to automate web application testing. By combining the strengths of Cucumber and Selenium, you can create powerful and maintainable test suites that are easy to understand and manage.

  1. Setup Cucumber with Selenium
    Ensure you have the necessary dependencies for both Cucumber and Selenium in your project. This typically involves adding the required libraries to your build tool configuration (e.g., Maven, Gradle).
    xml

    <!– Example Maven dependencies for Cucumber and Selenium –>

<dependency>

    <groupId>io.cucumber</groupId>

    <artifactId>cucumber-java</artifactId>

    <version>6.10.4</version>

</dependency>

<dependency>

    <groupId>org.seleniumhq.selenium</groupId>

    <artifactId>selenium-java</artifactId>

    <version>3.141.59</version>

</dependency>

 

2.Implement Page Object Model
Use the Page Object Model (POM) pattern to encapsulate the elements and actions on your web pages. This improves the maintainability of your test scripts and reduces code duplication.
java

public class LoginPage {

    private WebDriver driver;

 

¬†¬†¬†¬†@FindBy(id = “username”)

    private WebElement usernameField;

 

¬†¬†¬†¬†@FindBy(id = “password”)

    private WebElement passwordField;

 

¬†¬†¬†¬†@FindBy(id = “loginButton”)

    private WebElement loginButton;

 

    public LoginPage(WebDriver driver) {

        this.driver = driver;

        PageFactory.initElements(driver, this);

    }

 

    public void enterUsername(String username) {

        usernameField.sendKeys(username);

    }

 

    public void enterPassword(String password) {

        passwordField.sendKeys(password);

    }

 

    public void clickLoginButton() {

        loginButton.click();

    }

}

 

3.Create Step Definitions
Map your Gherkin steps to Selenium actions using step definitions. This involves writing Java (or other supported languages) code that interacts with your web application through Selenium.
java

public class LoginSteps {

 

    private WebDriver driver;

    private LoginPage loginPage;

 

¬†¬†¬†¬†@Given(“the user is on the login page”)

    public void theUserIsOnTheLoginPage() {

        driver = new ChromeDriver();

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†driver.get(“https://example.com/login”);

        loginPage = new LoginPage(driver);

    }

 

¬†¬†¬†¬†@When(“the user enters valid credentials”)

    public void theUserEntersValidCredentials() {

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†loginPage.enterUsername(“testuser”);

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†loginPage.enterPassword(“testpassword”);

        loginPage.clickLoginButton();

    }

 

¬†¬†¬†¬†@Then(“the user is redirected to the homepage”)

    public void theUserIsRedirectedToTheHomepage() {

        String currentUrl = driver.getCurrentUrl();

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†assertEquals(“https://example.com/home”, currentUrl);

        driver.quit();

    }

}

 

  1. Run Tests with Cucumber
    Use Cucumber’s test runner to execute your test scenarios. The test runner integrates with popular IDEs and CI/CD tools, allowing you to run tests seamlessly and view the results.
    java

    @RunWith(Cucumber.class)

@CucumberOptions(

¬†¬†¬†¬†features = “src/test/resources/features”,

¬†¬†¬†¬†glue = “stepdefinitions”,

¬†¬†¬†¬†plugin = {“pretty”, “html:target/cucumber-reports”}

)

public class TestRunner {

}

Conclusion

Cucumber is an invaluable tool for enhancing test automation through behaviour-driven development. By following best practices and leveraging advanced techniques, you can create robust, maintainable, and effective test automation frameworks. For those looking to master Cucumber and other automation tools, enrolling in training programs such as Selenium Training in Bangalore can provide the necessary expertise and practical knowledge. Implement these strategies to streamline your testing processes and deliver high-quality software that meets stakeholder expectations.

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