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What Is Gherkin Language? Steps to Write Accurate Tests

Written By Ahmed Shahid – Last Modified On April 22, 2024

What Is Gherkin Language?

Gherkin language is a programming language that is used by developers for the purpose of defining tests in the Cucumber platform. This language is designed to explain use cases for a software system in a manner that is supposed to be read and understood by as many people as possible, due to the fact that it employs plain English.

Because it enables developers, managers, business analysts, and any other stakeholders participating in the project to grasp the needs of the project as well as the life cycle, this syntax is conducive to behavior-driven development.

Gherkin language makes it simple and straightforward to document the code that is being created in an organized fashion. Additionally, Gherkin offers scripts for test automation and is compatible with hundreds of language variants.

What Is Cucumber?

The testing tool known as Cucumber is one that helps support Behavior Driven Development (BDD). It provides a method for writing examinations that can be comprehended by everyone, regardless of their level of technical expertise. Before developers write their codes, users (business analysts, product owners) write scenarios or acceptance tests that describe the behavior of the system from the perspective of the customer. These documents are then submitted to the product owners for review and approval before the developers write their codes. Ruby is the chosen programming language for the Cucumber framework.

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Why Gherkin?

Following are the primary justifications for making use of gherkins.

  1. Company analysts may use the Gherkin notation for the documentation of the accepted tests in a language that developers, QA, and even the business itself can understand. With widely understandable language, acceptance tests may be described in a way that fosters collaboration and communication.
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  1. Gherkin links acceptance tests with automation testing easily. Cucumber knows Gherkin. Any modification to a Cucumber test should cause it to fail and turn red. We’re sure the system meets specs. Implementable specification. Requirement links testing and real code. Updated requirements will cause automated testing to fail, according to a changed document. An updated test will also fail. Unaltered code is still preferable.

Additionally, Gherkin connects acceptance tests (GIVEN/WHEN/THEN) to automation testing in a straightforward manner. This is due to the fact that Cucumber is able to comprehend Gherkin. When it comes down to it, it indicates that if a BA modifies an acceptance test, the developer’s underlying Cucumber test should fail and a flashing red light should be activated!! 

As a result, we have every reason to believe that the system complies with the BA’s requirements. It is a specification that can be put into action. It connects the requirements, the tests, and the actual code. It indicates that the requirements are a live document that must be maintained up to date; otherwise, automated testing will be unsuccessful. In a similar vein, if there is a change to the documentation but there is no change to the code, then a test will fail, which is also beneficial.

What Is BBD?

The Behavior-Driven Development (BDD) methodology is a type of software development that promotes collaboration across different teams. The business and technical parts of the projects are brought together via the use of this collaborative method. By utilizing this strategy, teams are able to improve their ability to communicate requirements, spot problems at an earlier stage, and easily maintain software over time.

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The BBD strategy is used by teams that have several aims. The first thing that needs to be done is to guarantee that every member of the team can comprehend the requirements. After that, the teams will be able to concentrate on avoiding potential problems rather than putting out flames that are discovered later. In many cases, this indicates that less reworking will be necessary.

BDD is a mode of operation for software development teams that helps bridge the gap between business and technical professionals through the following means:

  • Promoting cross-role collaboration with the goal of developing a common understanding of the issue that has to be addressed
  • Working in short, quick iterations to enhance both the amount of feedback and the flow of value
  • Creating documentation for the system that is automatically validated in accordance with the system’s actions

This is accomplished by centering our collaboration efforts on tangible, real-world examples that exemplify the behavior that we want the system to exhibit. In a process that involves ongoing cooperation, we utilize those examples as a roadmap to help us navigate the transition from concept to execution.

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Gherkin Syntax

Gherkin is a line-oriented language, similar to YAML and Python, and it defines its structure through the use of indentation. It is possible to indent statements using either spaces or tabs, and statements are referred to as steps when they are terminated by line ends. (We recommend that you make advantage of gaps because of their mobility.) In conclusion, the majority of lines in Gherkin begin with a unique keyword. The information that is read by the parser is segmented into features, situations, and stages.

Using Gherkin to Write Test Cases

If you want to build Gherkin tests, the first thing you need to do is learn the keywords that are used and what function they serve in the real world. Below is a list of the Gherkin syntax’s most frequently used keywords.

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1- Feature

Gherkin documents begin with this keyword, which is then followed by material that provides a brief explanation of the document. What the feature is, in essence, tells us about how this particular software intends to accomplish its task(s). It is also a word that is used to sort various situations according to their respective classifications.

You may use it to build business rules and requirements documentation, not just for testing’s sake. It is deemed to be over when you begin a new line with other keywords such as scenario, example etc.

2- Description

Under the keywords, you can also enter free-form descriptions, as no line begins with a keyword. It’s only a viable alternative if it’s really essential.

3- Rule

When a single criterion must be completed by an organization, the term “rule” might be used. This serves as some context for a certain feature. In order to explain the rule, these “rules” need to have more than one example circumstance and a background section.

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Steps for Gherkin

There are several phases of Gherkin testing, so let’s have a look at a number of them. 

1- Given

The instructions provide a framework for what comes next. Many times, these stages serve as a reminder of something that took place before or another way: A user may get a sense of the bigger picture before engaging with the system. So, don’t bring up how visitors interact with the site at this point in the project. Step back and consider the prerequisites that must be satisfied before continuing. You are not constrained to a single Given phase in the process.

2- When

When there are actual activities involved in each stage. They provide an account of what happened. When an event is activated by another system. When a user interacts with it, it is an example of this. Each scenario should be limited to one step at a time.

3- Then

The next phases are referred to as “result steps.” As part of the process, you will specify the goals of the system, which will allow for an evaluation of the programme in light of how it really works. You should be able to view the results of this, like a message or a report, right away.

4- And or But

When a single kind of the processes described earlier is repeated several times, either and or but can be used. As a consequence, your documentation will be easier to comprehend and organize.

5- Background

It allows you to give more context to the events depicted in a feature. If necessary, you can take more than one step at a time here. Each feature can only have a single background step. You’ll need to create more feature files if you wish to run more processes in the background.

6- Scenario

In the scenario, there is a section devoted to instances. Moving ahead, these stages might serve as a template to follow. The scenario description is run just once for each row in the example section, with the exception of the header row.

Now that you know how to create a Gherkin test, how to assess if this is the appropriate solution or not.

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Advantages of Using Gherkin

Following are some of the advantages of using Gherkin tests:

  • It is possible to write requirements in the form of tests. This comes in especially handy when a business user is defining the requirements for user acceptance testing (UAT), as the language in which it is expressed may then serve as a test case.
  • fostering a greater relationship between information technology and business in order to produce high-quality work, given that business objectives should always come first when it comes to the delivery of projects
  • It is no longer necessary to repeat the same amount of work in establishing the requirements and then rewriting the test cases to cover the criteria that have been provided.
  • Ease of comprehension for any non-technical or business user who is interested in gaining an understanding of the functionality that is being evaluated.
  • As a result of the fact that the requirements and the test cases are the same, traceability of the test cases is simplified.
  • Working with Gherkin has a number of advantages, one of which is that the tests may be prepared in over 30 different languages, in addition to English.


Following are some of the disadvantages of using Gherkin tests:

  • Cucumber and gherkin aren’t the best match for every project. Short projects that require lots of testing may take longer to complete when using this method. Even if Behavior-Driven Development has benefits and applications, the technique of thinking and the execution of these tests may create project delays.
  • This might either be a plus or a negative depending on how your team approaches the development process. Gherkin and Cucumber go together with BDD, as we recently learned. As a result, your team members must work together on the project at all times, which is not possible often.
  • Even while it may be easier to build these tests, if the tests need to be rebuilt because of a poorly designed test, it will cost a lot more money and effort. It’s possible that this sort of testing may cost a lot of money if the developers don’t understand Gherkin and Cucumber well.

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Best Practices of Using Gherkin Language

Following are some of the best practices for using Gherkin:

1- The Golden Rule of Gherkin

The Gherkin’s Golden Rule is straightforward: Act toward other readers in the same manner in which you would like to be addressed. To be more explicit, write feature files in a way that anyone can comprehend them without any prior explanation. A good Gherkin should enhance the effectiveness of team cooperation by making the behaviors that you wish to cultivate more clear. When others have difficulty reading Gherkin, it is impossible for teams to create positive habits.

2- The Rule of Just One

Sometimes, less is more, therefore don’t provide needless cases. Focus instead on distinct equivalence classes. Although putting “everything” through the paces of testing may seem alluring, doing so wastes valuable time. Instead, you should focus on testing the most critical aspects, and you should try to avoid testing things twice.

3- The Fundamental Principle of BBD

The one-to-one rule is considered to be the most important principle of BDD. Each scenario needs to cover precisely one distinct action or behavior in isolation. There are several advantages to concentrating on just one habit at a time:

a) Collaboration.

More attention to detail and fewer misunderstandings

 b) Automation.

Each test failure leads to a distinct problem

 c) Efficiency.

 When there is less complexity in the job, cycle durations can be reduced.

 d) Traceability.

 Entails the following steps: one behavior, one example, one scenario, one test, and one outcome.

 e) Accountability. 

Requires that teams neither conceal nor attempt to avoid behaviors.

4- Rule of Appropriate Grammar

Because of the importance of language, you should write like a high school teacher would grade your Gherkin. The goal of writing behavior scenarios is to make them both readable and expressive. The steps are designed to be used several times. The benefits of behavior specification might be undermined by errors in syntax and spelling, as well as by inconsistencies in wording. It’s easy for the scenarios to get complex, and some team members can apply the processes incorrectly.

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The Future of Gherkin

Moving away from the Gherkin language is the way of the future and will result in improved advantages. People may draw up test plans using Gherkin as one method, but this stage of the process is not where it ends. Test scripts still need to be written out by the developers. This approach has the potential to squander a significant amount of time, which the developers might put to better use elsewhere.

Gherkin is an excellent initial step for bringing non-technical individuals into automated testing, and it’s one of the reasons why. 

To Sum it Up

Gherkin and Cucumber may be a useful choice when all members of the team need to be told but there is no time to get into technical specifics. However, this combination has the ability to make automated testing more complicated than it needs to be in the long run.

Analyze each option’s advantages and disadvantages before making a decision. For software development projects, it is critical that your team have the right tools available.

Interested in learning about what could be the best practice for you? 


Is Gherkin a programming language?

Gherkin is the language used specifically for the task of constructing behavior scenarios. It is a straightforward programming language, and its “code” is stored in feature files, which are just text files with the ending “. feature.” Cucumber, one of the most popular behavior-driven development (BDD) automation frameworks, is in charge of maintaining the official Gherkin language standard.

What is Gherkin Cucumber language?

Gherkin is the name of the programming language that is used in the creation of these executable feature files. Gherkin is a text language that is written in plain English, and it assists the tool known as Cucumber in its ability to read and run test scripts.

What is the difference between Cucumber and Gherkin language?

The Cucumber grammar is available in a variety of styles for the various spoken languages, your team will be able to utilize the keywords in the language that is most natural to you. Documents written in Gherkin are usually versioned in the source control system with the software, and they are kept as feature text files.

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