Sunday, August 17, 2014

Tabular data in Behat

All of this has happened before, and all this will happen again. -- BSG
I just watched Steve Freeman short talk "Given When Then" considered harmful (requires free login), and I was looking for some ways to cheaply eliminate duplication in Behat scenarios.

Fortunately, Behat supports Scenario Outlines for tabular data which is an 80/20 solution to transform lots of duplicated scenarios:
    Scenario: 3 is Fizz
        Given the input is 3
        When it is converted
        Then it becomes Fizz

    Scenario: 6 is Fizz too because it's multiple of 3
        Given the input is 6
        When it is converted
        Then it becomes Fizz

    Scenario: 2 is itself
        Given the input is 2
        When it is converted
        Then it becomes 2
into a table:
    Scenario Outline: conversion of numbers
        Given the input is <input>
        When it is converted
        Then it becomes <output>

            | input | output |
            | 2     | 2      |
            | 3     | Fizz   |
            | 6     | Fizz   |

Moreover, you can also pass tabular data to a single step with Table Nodes:
    Scenario: two items in the cart
        Given the following items are in the cart:
            | name    | price |
            | Cake    |     4 |
            | Shrimps |    10 |
        When I check out
        Then I pay 14
It takes a few minutes to learn how to do this into an existing Behat infrastructure. There are minimal changes to perform in the FeatureContext in the case of the Table Nodes, while Scenario Outlines are a pure Gherkin-side refactoring.

My code is on Github in my behat-tables-kata repository. If this reminds you of PHPUnit's @dataProvider, try to think of other patterns that can be borrowed from the xUnit world to fast-forward Cucumber and Behat development.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

PHPUnit Essentials review
PHPUnit Essentials by Zdenek Machek is a modern and complete book about PHPUnit usage. I've been sent an electronic copy by Packt Publishing and am now reviewing it here.

The first thing that struck me about the book was the breadth of subjects: you start from mocks and command line options, to get even to Selenium usage. You have to know your tools and given PHPUnit being a standard, this is all knowledge that will accompany you for several years.

Every book on PHPUnit must be compared with the wonderful manual, to see what it adds to the picture with respect to the documentation. PHPUnit Essentials, in this respect, looks also at 3rd party libraries such as mocking libraries or "competitors" such as PHPSpec to enlarge the picture to the whole open source PHP landscape. This is something the documentations of single projects cannot do, and where a bit of opinionated advice can be taken.

There is a bit of what may seem outdated information in the book such as how to perform a PEAR-based installation, but it's identified as such (PEAR being deprecated and dismissed by the end of the year.) Another seemingly outdated tool is Selenium IDE, but once upgraded with a formatter for Selenium2TestCase like explained in this book it becomes usable again. This kind of advice demonstrates the real world experience of the author and makes you trust the content.

On the whole by reading this book you go in as a naive tester and you come out with lots of skills on using PHPUnit in different scenarios; so I would recommended it to programmers wanting to dive into testing PHP applications. Probably it's not worth a read for the medium-to-advanced users, for which most of the content is already known from PHPUnit manual or personal experience. After all the book's named Essentials, so it delivers all that you expect from the title in a convenient single package.