Using Cucumber and Perl to define test cases in natural language

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Article from Issue 161/2014

The Cucumber test framework helps developers and product departments jointly formulate test cases, not as program code, but in plain English. The initially skeptical Perlmeister has acquired a taste for this.

I'm a practical thinker and a realist – a natural combination, I find. In regard to developer frameworks for non-programmers, however, this means that when a new software product claims to support development on the basis of mouse clicks or descriptive text instead of code, I tend to steer clear. Experience has shown that, although simple solutions can be created with natural-language means, these projects reach their limits as tasks grow increasingly complex. When this occurs, the developer may have to ditch the project and re-implement everything from scratch in a proper programming language.

Perlmeister Stands Corrected

A few years ago when I first heard about the Cucumber project [1], which describes test cases for software projects in natural language, I immediately suspected a retake of the familiar "you-don't-need-programming-skills" mantra. My reflex was to turn my back on Cucumber and steer toward things with more substance. But, it seems I was wrong, because the project has gained much popularity among serious developers in the meantime.

In the end, I revised my own opinion. The decisive factor was reading the book about the Cucumber project [2]. The 300-page book explores the functions of the toolset in detail and shows step by step how a useful test suite is created during a real-life software project.


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