There are several ways to make your Gherkin better.
Your scenarios should describe the intended behaviour of the system, not the implementation. In other words, it should describe what, not how.
For example, for an authentication Scenario, you should write:
When "Bob" logs in
Given I visit "/login" When I enter "Bob" in the "user name" field And I enter "tester" in the "password" field And I press the "login" button Then I should see the "welcome" page
The first example, When “Bob” logs in, is a functional requirement. The second, much longer, example is a procedural reference. Functional requirements are features, but procedures belong in the implementation details.
That way, when the implementation of a feature changes, you’ll only need to change the process steps behind the scenes. The behaviour does not have to change just because the implementation does. In fact, a good question to ask yourself when writing a feature clause is: “Will this wording need to change if the implementation does?”.
If the answer is “Yes”, then you should rework it avoiding implementation specific details. As a side benefit, in consequence your scenarios will be a lot shorter and much easier to follow and understand.
One way to make scenarios easier to maintain and less brittle is to use a declarative style. Declarative style describes the behaviour of the application, rather than the implementation details. Declarative scenarios read better as “living documentation”. A declarative style helps you focus on the value that the customer is getting, rather than the keystrokes they will use.
Imperative tests communicate details, and in some contexts this style of test is appropriate. On the other hand, because they are so closely tied to the mechanics of the current UI, they often require more work to maintain. Any time the implementation changes, the tests need to be updated too.
Here’s an example of a feature in an imperative style:
Feature: Subscribers see different sets of stock images based on their subscription level Scenario: Free subscribers see only the free articles Given users with a free subscription can access "FreeArticle1" but not "PaidArticle1" When I type "[email protected]" in the email field And I type "validPassword123" in the password field And I press the "Submit" button Then I see "FreeArticle1" on the home page And I do not see "PaidArticle1" on the home page Scenario: Subscriber with a paid subscription can access "FreeArticle1" and "PaidArticle1" Given I am on the login page When I type "[email protected]" in the email field And I type "validPassword123" in the password field And I press the "Submit" button Then I see "FreeArticle1" and "PaidArticle1" on the home page
Each step is a precise instruction. The inputs and expected results are specified exactly. But it’s easy to imagine changes to the application which would require changing these tests. The available options for free versus paid subscriptions can change. Even the means of logging in could change. What if, in the future, users log in with a voice interface or a thumbprint?
A more declarative style hides the details of how the application’s capabilities are implemented.
Feature: Subscribers see different sets of stock images based on their subscription level Scenario: Free subscribers see only the free articles Given Free Frieda has a free subscription When Free Frieda logs in with her valid credentials Then she sees a Free article on the home page Scenario: Subscriber with a paid subscription can access both free and paid articles Given Paid Patty has a basic-level paid subscription When Paid Patty logs in with her valid credentials Then she sees a Free article and a Paid article on the home page
With a declarative style, each step communicates an idea, but the exact values aren’t specified. The details of how the user interacts with the system, such as which specific articles are free or paid, and the subscription level of different test users, are specified in the step definitions (the automation code that interacts with the system). The subscription packages could change in the future. The business could change what content is available to subscribers on free and paid plans, without having to change this scenario and other scenarios that use the same step definitions. If another subscription level is added later, it’s easy to add a scenario for that. By avoiding terms like “click a button” that suggest implementation, the scenario is more resilient to implementation details of the UI. The intent of the scenario remains the same, even if the implementation changes later. In addition, having too many implementation details in a scenario, makes it harder to understand the intended behaviour it illustrates.