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Tag Expressions

Tag Expressions provide a simple query language for tags. The simplest tag expression is simply a single tag, for example:


A slightly more elaborate expression may combine tags, for example:

@smoke and not @ui

Tag Expressions are used for two purposes:

  1. Run a subset of scenarios (using the --tags expression option of the command line)
  2. Specify that a hook should only run for a subset of scenarios (using tagged hooks)

Tag Expressions are boolean expressions of tags with the logical operators and, or and not.

For more complex Tag Expressions you can use parenthesis for clarity, or to change operator precedence:

(@smoke or @ui) and (not @slow)

(The standard library list indicates what Cucumber implementations currently support Tag Expressions).

Migrating from old style tags

  • --tags @dev stays the same
  • --tags ~@dev becomes --tags 'not @dev'
  • --tags @foo,@bar becomes --tags '@foo or @bar'
  • --tags @foo --tags @bar becomes --tags '@foo and bar'
  • --tags ~@foo --tags @bar,@zap becomes --tags 'not @foo and (@bar or @zap)'

Internal design

The implementation is based on a modified version of Edsger Dijkstra's Shunting Yard algorithm that produces an expression tree instead of a postfix notation.

For example this expression:

expression = "not @a or @b and not @c or not @d or @e and @f"

Would parse into this expression tree:

# Get the root of the tree - an Expression object.
expressionNode = parser.parse(expression)

          /    \
        or      and
       /  \    /   \
     or  not  @e    @f
    /  \    \
  not  and   @d
 /    /   \
@a   @b   not

The root node of tree can then be evaluated for different combinations of tags. For example:

result = expressionNode.evaluate(["@a", "@c", "@d"]) # => false