Multiple invocations of your scenarios, without running Cucumber multiple times.
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Multiple invocations of your scenarios, without running Cucumber multiple times.

## Why would I want that?

In order to run different variations of your tests e.g.

  • Different browsers/devices (run all my tests in Chrome, Firefox, iPhone simulator etc)
  • Different platforms (run all my tests against a Windows installation, Linux, OS X etc)
  • Some types of multi-tenant scenarios (run all my tests against the Initrode deployment, the Acme deployment etc)
  • Systems which have different, configurable, modes of operation (but behave the same externally) - got a system that can optionally use MySQL, Sqlite or Oracle as the data store?

Surely there's some way of doing that already?

The only way of 'iterating' over a scenario in Cucumber is to provide it with example rows. You certainly don't want a table of 'devices' under every single scenario.

That would suck! But I can just call Cucumber multiple times from a Rake script!

Absolutely. It's not without disadvantages though:

  • Rake will naturally stop after the first failed command, so you have to code around that fact to have Rake ignore the cucumber failures, and fail at the end if any of the Cucumber runs had failures.
  • No aggregation of results - you have to write your own result aggregation code to get an overall view of how all the variations of your tests did.
  • When your Cucumber suite gets quite large, it can take a significant chunk of time for Cucumber to run your env.rb code, and load up all your support and feature files. That overhead, multiplied by the number of variations, can really add up.

So how does this gem work?

It's very simple. Cucumber can accept a file specifying a list of exact scenarios to run, in the format filename:line_number. This is used to re-run failed scenarios, usually in conjunction with the 'rerun' formatter. This gem takes advantage of that, to send Cucumber a long list of all your scenarios, repeated for each iteration.

How do I use it?

First, install the gem: gem install cuke_iterations

Configuration - iterations.yml

In your features folder, create a YAML file to contain your iterations. Each one must have a set of included and excluded tags, e.g:

  - ! '@mobile'
  - ! '@iphone_only'
  :exclude_tags: []
  - ! '@mobile'
  - ! '@iphone_only'

If you specify an empty array for include_tags, then all scenarios will be included. Excluded tags have priority over included ones (e.g. an @iphone_only scenario would not be included in the android iteration, even if it had the @mobile tag.

Running it

With defaults: cuke_iterations

To see other options: cuke_iterations -h

What did it do?

First, it created a set of empty directories under the iterations folder inside your features folder - one for each iteration that you defined. You should add this folder to your source-control ignore list (unless you're using Git which doesn't track empty folders).

Next, it created a run file for Cucumber. If you didn't specify a filename it will be called run.txt. Definitely add this to your source-control ignore list.

Run Cucumber with the run file instead of a features folder

cucumber @run.txt

Note we haven't told Cucumber about our features folder like we normally would. If you're not using the conventional Cucumber folder structure, then you will need to explicitly require your support and step_definitions folders.

### Use the iterations inside your scenarios

In env.rb:

require 'cuke_iterations'

Create a 'Before' hook:

Before do |scenario|
  iteration = current_iteration(scenario)
  puts "I'm running under the '#{iteration}' iteration!"

What should I do now I know which iteration the scenario is running under?

You should puts the iteration name to distinguish between instances of the scenario in the Cucumber output.

Depending upon the nature of your iterations, you might like to:

  • Switch the browser driver to a device-specific one
  • Change the URL you're running tests against
  • Change the configuration of the system under test

Happy cuking!