Collecting requirements for a project is a complicated process. If you don’t do it right, you can waste both money and time. Customers who start working with software development company often have problems with specifying their needs. To avoid communication failure when getting on a project – no matter if you are a customer or a contractor – learn how to use Gherkin to collect the requirements!
Requirements Engineering Analysis
Defining the business problem – this is the first step of the Requirements Engineering Analysis. In this task, we should not focus on the details but rather think about the problem globally. Here is an example of a well-posed problem:
“It is becoming increasingly difficult to find qualified specialists for the ICT sector”
The second step is to create a solution to this problem. It can be a service, a product or even a process. Following on, the example of a solution to the problem posed earlier could be:
“Creating SkillHunt.io application – a recruitment platform allowing its users to get a high reward for referring a job to his or her friend”
At this stage, the details are needless. If we evaluate the idea, conduct market research and it turns out that our solution has a business justification, we can start collecting the requirements. To make sure they fulfill their function, we should check if they meet the 3 main criteria. They need to be:
- Explicit and unambiguous
- Understandable for all the stakeholders,
- Up-to-date and documented.
To make the process of collecting requirements easier and to meet all the presented criteria, we can use the Gherkin language. It is a natural language which can be useful both to business analysts collecting the requirements and to developers creating the scenarios for functional tests.
Speak Gherkin fluently
The record of requirements in Gherkin is unambiguous, explicit, and – what’s most important – easy to understand for all the parties involved. Because of that, the discussion about the requirements is actually possible.
Just like every other language, Gherkin has its syntax. It has some specific structure, some keywords have to appear. Here is how it looks:
Feature: Logout from application Scenario: Given I am logged in When I click “log out” button Then I am informed about successful logout And I am redirected to login page
The requirements collected in Gherkin are saved to a .feature file. Thanks to that, the developers can easily use these files for writing automated tests in BDD (Behavior-driven development) using Cucumber.
When we want to create a new requirements description, we need to define the Feature which gives us the name of a new functionality. Then, we go ahead with writing the Scenario. It’s worth to mention that one file can contain more than one scenario. Each scenario consists of three main steps: Given, When, and Then. The description following the word Given sets the preconditions, When defines the actions that take place at the particular functionality and Then describes the expected outcome of the action. In the example presented above, there is one more keyword: And which continues the method that it follows. Therefore, when listed after When, it would continue this section and define another action. Gherkin knows one more keyword: But – but, to be honest, in my whole career as a Project Manager, I have never found a situation when it could be applied.
Take a look at the example in which the user is logged in in each of the scenarios:
Feature: Select profile Background: Given I am logged in Scenario: First profile select Given I go to application after logging When I am asked which profile I would like to choose from my list And I select profile from list Then I see dashboard for this profile Scenario: Next profile select Given I am on dashboard And I have selected profile When I select from dropdown with list Then I see dashboard for this
Moreover, if we want to discuss the requirements and, in the future, test more than one scenario, it is worth to use some examples – using the Example function. Collecting data in this form is often the most unambiguous. To use Example, we need to put the variable inside angle brackets <> and put the tables below the scenario. We need to remember that if we use examples, our scenarios should be named Scenario Outline. The following example should make it clear:
Feature: Login to application Background: Given I am a registered user And my account is activated Scenario Outline: Successful login Given I am on login page When I fill "login" with And I fill "password" with And I click "Login" button Then I am redirected to page with profile select Examples: | login | correct-password | | Lukasz | Gh3rk1n | | Arek | Cucumb3r | Scenario Outline: Unsuccessful login Given I am on login page When I fill "login" with And I fill "password" with And click "Login" button Then I am informed about unsuccessful login Examples: | login | incorrect-password | | Lukasz | Gherkin | | Arek | Cucumber | Scenario: Unauthorized entry Given I am not logged in When I try to go Dashboard page Then I am redirected to login page
Of course, in agile projects, the requirements are changing. It is necessary to apply changes in the .feature files and therefore – the on-going changes in application tests. This way we can keep our documentation up-to-date. Completing the tasks in compliance with the scenarios results in delivering up and running elements that perfectly fit with the principles of the Agile management.