Cucumber-In-The-YARD (CITY): A Requirements Documentation Tool

Synopsis

Cucumber-In-The-Yard is a YARD extension that processes Cucumber features, scenarios, steps, tags, step definitions, and even transforms to provide documentation similar to what you expect to how YARD displays classes, methods and constants. This tools bridges the gap of having feature files found in your source code and true documentation that your team, product owners and stakeholders can use.

Examples

I have created a trivial, example project to help provide a quick visualization of the resulting documentation. I encourage you to look at it as an example and see if it would assist your project from a multitude of perspectives: as the project’s core developer; another developer or a new developer; quality assurance engineer; or product owner/stakeholder.

The implemented example has been deployed at http://recursivegames.com/cukes/.

1. View Features and Scenarios example

2. Search through features, scenarios, and tags

3. Dynamic Tag Unions and Intersections example

4. View all features and scenarios by tag example

5. View Step Definitions and Transforms example

6. All steps matched to step definitions

7. Steps that have transforms applied to them

8. Undefined steps and even Rubular links of your step definitions.

9. Feature directories with a README.md will be parsed into the description example

Installation

Cucumber-In-The-Yard (CITY) requires the following gems installed:

Gherkin - http://cukes.info
Cucumber - http://cukes.info
YARD - http://yardoc.org

To install CITY use the following command:

$ gem install cucumber-in-the-yard

(Add sudo if you’re installing under a POSIX system as root)

Usage

1. Rake Task

You can do this by adding the following to your Rakefile:

require "yard"
require "city"

YARD::Rake::CitydocTask.new do |t|
  t.files   = ['features/**/*', OTHER_PATHS]   # optional
  t.options = ['--any', '--extra', '--opts'] # optional
end

both the files and options settings are optional. files will default to lib/**/*.rb and options will represents any options you might want to add. Again, a full list of options is available by typing yardoc --help in a shell. You can also override the options at the Rake command-line with the OPTS environment variable:

2. YARD command-line

$ yardoc -e path/to/cucumber-in-the-yard/lib/city.rb -p path/to/cucumber-in-the-yard/lib/templates 'features/**/*.*'

3. YARD Server

$ yard server -e path/to/cucumber-in-the-yard/lib/server.rb

Details

There are two things that I enjoy: a test framework written in my own Domain Specific Language (DSL) that is easily understood by all those on a project and the ability for all participants to easily read, search, and view the tests.

Cucumber is an amazing tool that allowed me to define exercisable requirements. My biggest obstacle was bringing these requirements to my team, the product owner, and other stakeholders.

Initially I tried to expose more of the functionality by providing freshly authored requirements through email, attachments to JIRA tickets, or linked in wiki documents. None of these methods were very sustainable or successful. First, I was continually pushing out the documents to those interested. Second, the documents were displayed to the user in text without the syntax highlighting that was exceedingly helpful for quickly understanding the requirements.

I also found it hard to share the test framework that I had put together with another developer that joined the team. It was difficult to direct them around the features, tags, step definitions, and transforms.
It was when I started to convey to them the conventions that I had established that I wished I had a tool that would allow me to provide documentation like one would find generated by a great tool like YARD.

So I set out to integrate Cucumber objects like features, backgrounds, scenarios, tags, steps, step definitions, and transforms into a YARD template. From my quick survey of the landscape I can see that the my needs are different than a lot of others that use Cucumber. The entire project that spawned this effort was solely to exercise the functionality of a different, large project and so there is a huge dependence on having the requirements documented. This is in contrast to other projects that are using this on a small scale to test the functionality of small software component. Though, ultimately, I realized that the functionality may provide a valuable tool for many as I feel it helps more solidly bridge the reporting of the documentation by putting a coat of paint on it.

Current Goals

  1. The landing page for ‘All features’ should be requirements landing page.

  2. ‘All Features’ takes you to all the features.
    • represent the file structure in a file structure way and change the subtitle ‘subdirectories’ to ‘features by directory’ and show the directory headings with the features within them
  3. Provide readme.md markdown support within each of the feature subdirectories

  4. Tag filering
    • create and provide a video link of how to filter
    • allow you to remove tag elements visually with the mouse click
    • provide a copy to clipboard for the command line execution
    • Further testing for tag filtering
  5. Step Transformers
    • Better way to illustrate that a step has a transformed applied to a parameter
  6. Feature Directory
    • Layout of the subdirectories should be more directory like and provide more information
    • Parent directories of directories contain no feature/scenario/tags statistics

Future Ideas

1. Table Step Transforms

The table step transform matching would be nice to show which tables are affected by table transforms

2. Before, After, and Around Hooks

Document the additional before, after, and around hooks that Cucumber uses. Specifically display the before, after, and around hooks that are tied to tags (unions and intersections) on the tag pages.

3. Layout refinements of the step definition / step transform page

More work could be done to make this page more searchable, sortable, and usable.

4. Visualization of Tag unions and intersections

Continue to expand the tag union/intersection tool. Visualization of this execution with some graphing library for some extra points.

5. Requirements Only Documentation

‘fulldoc’ is the default documentation generated but I have this thought that a requirements-only document may be useful. Essentially the first draft would be the current documentation minus the class and method links/searches and replacing the index.html.

6. Performance enhancements

The current rate of documentation is not dreadfully slow anymore but more performance enhancements could always be performed to produce the documentation faster.

LICENSE

(The MIT License)

Copyright (c) 2010 FIX

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the ‘Software’), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED ‘AS IS’, WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.