CukeUp London 2014

A few days ago I attended the 2014 London CukeUp, a conference covering all areas around the Cucumber framework.

Set in the trendy tech area around Old Street (exposed brick and pipe work indoors abound!), the day started off with spotting a minor bug while walking towards the venue (it was an hour out). Arrived shortly after, checked into the conference, picked up the obligatory name badge and collection of stickers and grabbed a croissant and cup of tea to start the day (I must commend them on the selection available, I much prefer Twinings Assam to the standard English Breakfast).

The first talk was from the creator of Cucumber, Aslak Hellesøy, on where the tool is heading. I guess the big information was around the commercial side: Cucumber Ltd being formed to allow for more full time development, and Cucumber Pro (at this moment still in a sort of closed beta state). The Cucumber Pro tool looks quite interesting and I had come across it while looking for alternatives to Relish for making feature files easily accessible. Their goal with it sounds to be more engagement with the BA side of the business by abstracting away from the dev world of source control and jenkins reports. All of that will still exist under the covers of course, but this tool will hopefully put a pretty sheen over the top, make it easy to publish feature files as documentation, make it easy to see which features are passing and failing. Everything relating to the features of the system all in one easily accessible and easily usable place. It’s certainly something I’d be interested in taking a look at when it’s ready, but I think the big test will be working with such a tool in practice, how well will it integrate into existing processes, how well will this layer of abstraction above dev tools improve collaboration. All that is yet to be seen, but the future is promising.

The second talk of the day I attended was Liz Keogh giving a rapid fire run through of the history of BDD and the mistakes made throughout. Useful to see how far we’ve come, what what we’ve learnt and hopefully take all that forward and make less mistakes in future.

The next few talks I listened to were mostly around collaboration and the value of user stories and documentation/readability. I particularly liked Seb Rose’s talk on the relationship between user stories and features and why there shouldn’t necessarily be a one to one mapping. I do strongly believe that ultimately features are the documentation of the system, not individual stories, stories get thrown away after they’re done! Multiple stories add more acceptance criteria to a “feature” of the system. If we stick to this then we can keep using the feature files as documentation and keep the number of scenarios to the minimum required (instead of a proliferation of near duplicate yet subtle tweaked ones where stories map one to one with feature files). Seb also announced “The Cucumber-JVM Book” will be released, which as far as I understood will be “The Cucumber Book” but specifically for Cucumber-JVM instead of Ruby.

The final talk of the day from Matt Wynne had his thoughts on the 6 stages a dev team goes through when implementing BDD. From burnt toast, to auto-burnt toast, to the three amigos, into eventual disillusionment, and some thoughts on what the final stage of transcendence might look like. I guess much like the Buddhist Nirvana, we all have to find our own way there. We can take common tips, but what works for one team may not work for another, and we may not all get there, but that is the ultimate goal.

Overall I thought it was well worth attending, there was at least something to take away from each talk, and definitely a few things that give food for thought to being implemented as soon as I’m back in the office.


Worth noting is that all of the presentations were recorded and are available on the Skills Matter website:

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