Book Review

The BDD Books: Formulation

Let me start by stating something most of you most likely know, I am a big fan of Behavioural Driven Design (BDD), I have spoken about it at multiple conferences and I use it on a daily basis. Therefore I was really excited to learn from Gáspár and Seb who are without a doubt some of the most knowledgeable people to write about this topic ... which they are not shy to tell you directly in the beginning of the book:

Together Seb and Gáspár have over 60 years of software experience which they put to good use developing and delivering training and coaching for organizations worldwide.

It's a somewhat bold disclaimer in the beginning of the book, and I wish they wouldn't have chosen this "let me tell you..." move, because the content in this book really speaks for itself.

The Book to understand the toolset Gherkin provides

Gherkin is a language to describe behaviour of any system in feature files with three words: Given, When, Then. There, now you have learned the language, however it takes a lot of practice to apply this tool in practice. And here is where the book takes us on a journey with a team implementing a pizza ordering software.

Along this example we learn the fundamentals of the language, and many hands-on, very well explained best practice on how to use Gherkin to not only describe the properties of the software system, but also how to do it in a way that enables all stakeholder to take part and in such a way that it creates a living documentation; one that never is outdated.

This promise is magically and the authors manage to lift the curtain and share their years of experience with this tool.

BDD is reverse decoupled TDD

Start with the end in mind.

As with test-driven-development (TDD), BDD is ideally written before the implementation, and this is one of the big take-aways for me: where I would TDD with small examples working towards a complete feature, BDD works best if the end-result is written first: if the Then ... is defined first, it is easier to focus only on the absolute necessary Givens and Whens—a point that the books stresses at multiple occasions: focus on keeping scenarios brief (or BRIEF, the acronym that is used in the book).

BDD is for everyone, and any time

You should pick up this book today and learn about this tool, because it can be introduced in a project at any time: a chapter about legacy code is included.

I especially liked their description of how feature files can serve different audiences and pick them up where they need the documentation to be, for example using a different domain language, or (how I typically use BDD) on a lower level, without implementing steps but driving an API client.

While most of the book centers around writing feature files that can be used to drive automation tests, the author specifically mention the importance of testers and their expertise, because it is not about automating tests, but about aligning all stakeholders and the software that is getting build:

Never underestimate the domain knowledge of the people who worked on the project. Testers in particular will have acquired a deep understanding of the product through their time spent testing it.

When I read The BDD Books: Formulation
Then I become a better Software Crafter

I really like the overall structure of the book, the chapters are not too long and don't overstretch their topic. Throughout the book the authors provide their personal view which helps to underline important aspects. It will be a good source to revisit again and again.

The BDD Books: Formulation is available on LeanPub and on Amazon.

I've read the Kindle version of the book which I would not fully recommend because even the smallest font size would not fit the feature listings on my screen (a 10th generation Kindle Paperwhite). This is fine if you are familier with the Gherkin syntax and can skim the feature definitions. I would recommend to read the PDF version which has a better layout, or get the printed version (from the PDF).