Passionate Developer

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Acceptance Testing Using JBehave, Spring Framework and Maven

This post documents acceptance testing best practices collected in regular projects I was working on. Best practices materialized into working project, using Jbehave, Spring Framework and Maven.

After the lecture you will know:

  • How to implement automated acceptance tests and avoid common traps.
  • How to organize project build using Maven.
  • How to configure project and glue everything together using Spring Framework.
  • How to write test scenarios using JBehave.
  • Finally how to run tests from command line and from your favourite IDE.

Automated acceptance tests

Automated acceptance test suite is a system documentation, the real single source of truth. The best documentation I’ve ever seen: always up-to-date, unambiguous and precise.

But I found many traps when I was trying to apply acceptance tests automation in practice.

Acceptance Testing is about collaboration not tools.

You will get much better results if you will collaborate closely with product owner, end users and customer. You could write test scenario only by yourself but perhaps you will fail. When you are able to work on test scenarios together, you could think about tools and automation. Do not let that tools interfere in collaboration, all team members must be committed to acceptance tests contribution.

Acceptance Testing needs to be done using user interface.

In most situation you don’t need to implement tests using user interface.

User interface tends to be changed frequently, business logic not so often. I don’t want to change my tests when business logic stays unchanged, even if user interface has been changed significantly.

User interface tests are very fragile and slow. You will lost one of the automated tests advantages: fast and precise feedback loop. It is really hard to setup and maintain the infrastructure for user interface testing.

Everything should be tested.

Acceptance tests are mainly for happy path scenarios verification. Acceptance tests are expensive to maintain, so do not test corner cases, validation and error handling, on that level. Focus only on the relevant assertions for the given scenario, do not verify everything only because you can.

Project build organization

After bunch of theory it is time to show real code. Let’s start with proper project organization. I found that acceptance testing is a cross cutting aspect of the application, and should be separated from the application code. Acceptance tests build configuration is very specific and I don’t want to clutter application build configuration. You can also utilize multi module project, to ensure that acceptance tests module is allowed to call application public API only. This segregation applies only for acceptance testing, the best place for unit tests is still in an application module under src/test directory.

With Maven (and other build tools like Gradle), application code and acceptance tests code can be located in separate modules.

Parent module
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<project>
    <groupId>example</groupId>
    <artifactId>example-jbehave</artifactId>
    <version>1.0-SNAPSHOT</version>
    <packaging>pom</packaging>

    <modules>
        <module>example-jbehave-app</module>
        <module>example-jbehave-tests</module>
    </modules>
</project>
Web application module
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<project>
    <parent>
        <groupId>example</groupId>
        <artifactId>example-jbehave</artifactId>
        <version>1.0-SNAPSHOT</version>
    </parent>

    <artifactId>example-jbehave-app</artifactId>
    <packaging>war</packaging>
</project>

Tests module
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<project>
    <parent>
        <groupId>example</groupId>
        <artifactId>example-jbehave</artifactId>
        <version>1.0-SNAPSHOT</version>
    </parent>

    <artifactId>example-jbehave-tests</artifactId>
    <packaging>jar</packaging>
</project>

The parent module is the best place to define common configuration properties inherited by child modules.

Configuration properties in parent module
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<properties>
    <project.build.sourceEncoding>UTF-8</project.build.sourceEncoding>

    <maven.compiler.source>1.7</maven.compiler.source>
    <maven.compiler.target>1.7</maven.compiler.target>

    <jbehave.version>3.9.2</jbehave.version>
    <logback.version>1.1.1</logback.version>
    <slf4j.version>1.7.6</slf4j.version>
    <spring.version>4.0.5.RELEASE</spring.version>
</properties>

In the parent module you could also define Spring Framework BOM (Bill Of Materials), to ensure consistent dependency management. This is quite new Spring Framework ecosystem feature.

Dependency management in parent module
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<dependencyManagement>
    <dependencies>
        <dependency>
            <groupId>org.springframework</groupId>
            <artifactId>spring-framework-bom</artifactId>
            <version>${spring.version}</version>
            <type>pom</type>
            <scope>import</scope>
        </dependency>
        (...)
    </dependencies>
<dependencyManagement>

Because I prefer SLF4J over Apache Commons Logging, unwanted dependency is excluded globally from spring-core artifact.

Dependency management in parent module
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<dependencyManagement>
    <dependencies>
        (...)
        <dependency>
            <groupId>org.springframework</groupId>
            <artifactId>spring-core</artifactId>
            <version>${spring.version}</version>
            <exclusions>
                <exclusion>
                    <groupId>commons-logging</groupId>
                    <artifactId>commons-logging</artifactId>
                </exclusion>
            </exclusions>
        </dependency>
    </dependencies>
</dependencyManagement>

In the application module declare all application dependencies. In real application the list will be much longer.

Dependency management in application module
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<dependencies>
        <dependency>
            <groupId>org.springframework</groupId>
            <artifactId>spring-webmvc</artifactId>
        </dependency>

        <dependency>
            <groupId>org.slf4j</groupId>
            <artifactId>slf4j-api</artifactId>
            <version>${slf4j.version}</version>
        </dependency>

        <dependency>
            <groupId>org.slf4j</groupId>
            <artifactId>jcl-over-slf4j</artifactId>
            <version>${slf4j.version}</version>
            <scope>runtime</scope>
        </dependency>

        <dependency>
            <groupId>ch.qos.logback</groupId>
            <artifactId>logback-classic</artifactId>
            <version>${logback.version}</version>
            <scope>runtime</scope>
        </dependency>
    </dependencies>
</project>

Maven War Plugin must be configured specifically, classes (the content of the WEB-INF/classes directory) must be attached to the project as an additional artifact. Acceptance test module depends on this additional artifact. Set attachClasses property to true.

War plugin configuration in application module
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<plugin>
    <groupId>org.apache.maven.plugins</groupId>
    <artifactId>maven-war-plugin</artifactId>
    <version>2.4</version>
    <configuration>
        <attachClasses>true</attachClasses>
    </configuration>
</plugin>

Alternatively you can use two separate modules for the application. One jar type with domain and infrastructure and separate war type with web layer. Then you would declare dependency to your jar application module only. In my example I would keep it simple, and use single war type module for all layers in the application.

In the tests module declare all dependencies as well. There is also an extra dependency to the application module, additional jar type artifact generated by Maven War Plugin. The last two dependencies of zip type are needed to generate JBehave tests report.

Dependency management in tests module
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<dependencies>
        <dependency>
            <groupId>${project.groupId}</groupId>
            <artifactId>example-jbehave-app</artifactId>
            <version>${project.version}</version>
            <classifier>classes</classifier>
        </dependency>

        <dependency>
            <groupId>org.springframework</groupId>
            <artifactId>spring-test</artifactId>
        </dependency>

        <dependency>
            <groupId>org.jbehave</groupId>
            <artifactId>jbehave-core</artifactId>
            <version>${jbehave.version}</version>
        </dependency>

        <dependency>
            <groupId>org.jbehave</groupId>
            <artifactId>jbehave-spring</artifactId>
            <version>${jbehave.version}</version>
        </dependency>

        <dependency>
            <groupId>org.jbehave.site</groupId>
            <artifactId>jbehave-site-resources</artifactId>
            <version>3.1.1</version>
            <type>zip</type>
        </dependency>

        <dependency>
            <groupId>org.jbehave</groupId>
            <artifactId>jbehave-core</artifactId>
            <version>${jbehave.version}</version>
            <classifier>resources</classifier>
            <type>zip</type>
        </dependency>
    </dependencies>

Two Maven plugins must be configured specifically in the tests module: maven-surefire-plugin and jbehave-maven-plugin.

Because we separated tests into it’s own module, test classes might be located under src/main as first class citizen. Surefire is configured to execute test scenarios under example/jbehave/tests/stories package.

Surefire plugin configuration in tests module
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<plugin>
    <groupId>org.apache.maven.plugins</groupId>
    <artifactId>maven-surefire-plugin</artifactId>
    <version>2.17</version>
    <configuration>
        <testSourceDirectory>${basedir}/src/main/java/</testSourceDirectory>
        <testClassesDirectory>${project.build.directory}/classes/</testClassesDirectory>
        <includes>
            <include>example/jbehave/tests/stories/**/*.java</include>
        </includes>
    </configuration>
</plugin>

In my setup JBehave plugin will be responsible only for unpacking resources used by tests report. I do not use plugin to run stories at all, I found better way to do that. It will be described later in the post.

JBehave plugin configuration in tests module
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<plugin>
    <groupId>org.jbehave</groupId>
    <artifactId>jbehave-maven-plugin</artifactId>
    <version>${jbehave.version}</version>
    <executions>
        <execution>
            <id>unpack-view-resources</id>
            <phase>generate-resources</phase>
            <goals>
                <goal>unpack-view-resources</goal>
            </goals>
        </execution>
    </executions>
</plugin>

Spring Framework configuration

The application implements shopping basket simplified functionality. Do not use my shopping basket implementation on production, it is only for this post educational purposes :–)

The application is composed from three main packages: domain, infrastructure and web. This convention comes from Domain Driven Design, you can read more in my post DDD Architecture Summary.

Each package is configured using Spring Framework annotation support. In general you should keep the configuration as modular as possible. It is very important for testing, with modular configuration you can load only needed context and speed up tests execution.

DomainConfiguration.java
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@Configuration
@ComponentScan
public class DomainConfiguration {
}
InfrastructureConfiguration.java
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@Configuration
@ComponentScan
public class InfrastructureConfiguration {
}
WebConfiguration.java
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@Configuration
@ComponentScan
public class WebConfiguration {
}

If you are interested in application functionality, go to the source code. The application is really simple, just old plain Java.

Much more interesting is Spring Framework configuration in tests module. First the meta annotation for acceptance tests is defined. This is a new way to avoid repetition in tests definition, introduced in Spring Framework recently.

AcceptanceTest.java
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@ContextConfiguration(classes = AcceptanceTestsConfiguration.class)
@ImportResource({"classpath:/application.properties", "classpath:/tests.properties"})
@ActiveProfiles("tests")
@DirtiesContext
@Target(ElementType.TYPE)
@Retention(RetentionPolicy.RUNTIME)
public @interface AcceptanceTest {
}
  1. Tests configuration is loaded, again using Java config instead of XML.
  2. Load application properties and overwrite defaults using tests properties if needed.
  3. Activate some special Spring Framework profile(s). Another way to customize tests configuration.
  4. Acceptance tests have side effects typically. Reload context before every story execution.

The AcceptanceTestsConfiguration class is again very simple. It imports application configurations: domain and infrastructure. Because we will implement acceptance tests using service layer, we don’t need to load web module or run web container.

AcceptanceTestsConfiguration
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@Configuration
@Import({DomainConfiguration.class, InfrastructureConfiguration.class})
@ComponentScan
public class AcceptanceTestsConfiguration {
}

Meta annotation support is also used to define very specific annotations, one for JBehave test steps, second for JBehave converters. Well crafted annotations are better than generic @Component, even if they do not provide additional features.

Steps.java
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@Target(value = ElementType.TYPE)
@Retention(value = RetentionPolicy.RUNTIME)
@Documented
@Component
public @interface Steps {
}
Converter.java
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@Target(value = ElementType.TYPE)
@Retention(value = RetentionPolicy.RUNTIME)
@Documented
@Component
public @interface Converter {
}

JBehave configuration

The last infrastructure element in tests module is a base class for stories. JBehave provides plenty of integration methods with Spring Framework and I spent a lot of time to select the best one.

I have following requirements:

  • The ability to run single story from my IDE.
  • Meet Open Close Principle. When I add new story I do not want to modify any existing file. I want to add new one(s).
  • Have a full control over JBehave configuration.

To meet my requirements some base class for all tests must be defined. I do not like the idea to use inheritance here but I did not find better way.

Let me describe AbstractSpringJBehaveStory step by step:

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public abstract class AbstractSpringJBehaveStory extends JUnitStory {
...
}

JUnitStory is a JBehave class with single test to run single story. It means that any subclass of this class can be executed as regular JUnit test.

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private static final int STORY_TIMEOUT = 120;

public AbstractSpringJBehaveStory() {
    Embedder embedder = new Embedder();
    embedder.useEmbedderControls(embedderControls());
    embedder.useMetaFilters(Arrays.asList("-skip"));
    useEmbedder(embedder);
}

private EmbedderControls embedderControls() {
    return new EmbedderControls()
            .doIgnoreFailureInView(true)
            .useStoryTimeoutInSecs(STORY_TIMEOUT);
}

The constructor initialize JBehave embedder, a fascade to embed JBehave functionality in JUnit runner.

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@Autowired
private ApplicationContext applicationContext;

@Override
public InjectableStepsFactory stepsFactory() {
    return new SpringStepsFactory(configuration(), applicationContext);
}

Configure JBehave to load steps and converters from Spring Framework context. What is also important, the steps and converters are managed by Spring Framework, you can inject whatever you want.

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@Override
public Configuration configuration() {
    return new MostUsefulConfiguration()
            .useStoryPathResolver(storyPathResolver())
            .useStoryLoader(storyLoader())
            .useStoryReporterBuilder(storyReporterBuilder())
            .useParameterControls(parameterControls());
}

The configuration method is surprisingly responsible for JBehave configuration. The most useful configuration is used with some customizations. Let’s check what kind of customization are applied.

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private StoryPathResolver storyPathResolver() {
    return new UnderscoredCamelCaseResolver();
}

The story path resolver is responsible for resolving story based on test class name. With UnderscoredCamelCaseResolver implementation, story learn_jbehave_story.story will be correlated with LearnJbehaveStory.java class.

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private StoryLoader storyLoader() {
    return new LoadFromClasspath();
}

Stories will be resolved and loaded from the current classpath (from src/main/resources to be more specific).

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private StoryReporterBuilder storyReporterBuilder() {
    return new StoryReporterBuilder()
            .withCodeLocation(CodeLocations.codeLocationFromClass(this.getClass()))
            .withPathResolver(new ResolveToPackagedName())
            .withFailureTrace(true)
            .withDefaultFormats()
            .withFormats(IDE_CONSOLE, TXT, HTML);
}

The configuration how the reports will look like. Nothing special, please refer to JBehave reference documentation for more details.

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private ParameterControls parameterControls() {
    return new ParameterControls()
            .useDelimiterNamedParameters(true);
}

The configuration how the steps parameters will be handled.

Test scenarios definition

Test scenarios are rather straightforward, if you are familiar with BDD and Gherkin like syntax. If not please read BDD Concepts short definition.

Look, in the scenarios there is nothing specific to the application user interface. It is not important how product price editor looks like, and how the shopping basket is presented.

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Narrative:
In order to learn JBehave
As a tester
I want to define sample story for shopping cart

Lifecycle:
Before:
Given product Domain Driven Design with SKU 1234
And product Domain Driven Design price is 35 EUR

Given product Specification By Example with SKU 2345
And product Specification By Example price is 30 EUR

Scenario: Empty shopping cart

Given empty shopping cart
Then shopping cart is empty

Scenario: Products are added to empty shopping cart

Given empty shopping cart
When products are added to the shopping cart:
|PRODUCT                 |QTY|
|Domain Driven Design    |  1|
|Specification By Example|  2|

Then the number of products in shopping cart is 2
And total price is 95 EUR

Test steps implementation

Test steps are implemented in Java classes annotated with @Steps. The common mistake is to develop steps only for single story. The steps should be reusable across many user stories if feasible. With reusable steps you will find, that writing next user stories are much easier and faster. You can just use existing steps implementation to define new user story.

For example steps for product catalog and product prices are defined in SharedSteps class. The repositories are used to manage products and prices. In real application, you should use application service and it’s public API instead of direct access to the repositories. Please think about steps implementation complexity, if we would need to use user interface, instead of repositories or service API.

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@Steps
public class SharedSteps {

    @Autowired
    private ProductRepository productRepository;

    @Autowired
    private PriceRepository priceRepository;

    @Given("product $name with SKU $sku")
    public void product(String name, StockKeepingUnit sku) {
        productRepository.save(new Product(sku, name));
    }

    @Given("product $name price is $price")
    public void price(String name, Money price) {
        Product product = productRepository.findByName(name);
        priceRepository.save(product.getSku(), price);
    }
}

You could ask, how does JBehave know about StockKeepingUnit and Money classes? You will have to implement custom converters but it is much more convenient to use well defined API, instead of dozen of String based values.

MoneyConverter
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@Converter
public class MoneyConverter {

    @AsParameterConverter
    public Money convertPercent(String value) {
        if (StringUtils.isEmpty(value)) {
            return null;
        }

        String[] tokens = value.split("\\s");
        if (tokens.length != 2) {
            throw new ParameterConverters.ParameterConvertionFailed("Expected 2 tokens (amount and currency) but got " + tokens.length + ", value: " + value + ".");
        }

        return new Money(tokens[0], tokens[1]);
    }
}

The class MoneyConverter is annotated with @Converter annotation defined before. StringUtils is a utility class from Spring Framework, look at the API documentation how many helpful utils classes are implemented in the framework. If the value cannot be converted, JBehave ParameterConvertionFailed exception is thrown.

The shopping cart related steps are implemented in ShoppingCartSteps class.

ShoppingCartSteps
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@Steps
public class ShoppingCartSteps {

    @Autowired
    private ShoppingCartService shoppingCartService;

    @Autowired
    private ProductDao productRepository;

    @Given("empty shopping cart")
    public void emptyShoppingCart() {
        shoppingCartService.createEmptyShoppingCart();
    }

    @When("products are added to the shopping cart: $rows")
    public void addProducts(List<ShoppingCartRow> rows) {
        for (ShoppingCartRow row : rows) {
            Product product = productRepository.findByName(row.getProductName());
            shoppingCartService.addProductToShoppingCart(product.getSku(), row.getQuantity());
        }
    }

    @Then("shopping cart is empty")
    public void isEmpty() {
        ShoppingCart shoppingCart = shoppingCartService.getShoppingCart();
        assertEquals(0, shoppingCart.numberOfItems());
    }

    @Then("the number of products in shopping cart is $numberOfItems")
    public void numberOfItems(int numberOfItems) {
        ShoppingCart shoppingCart = shoppingCartService.getShoppingCart();
        assertEquals(numberOfItems, shoppingCart.numberOfItems());
    }

    @Then("total price is $price")
    @Pending
    public void totalPrice(Money price) {
        // TODO: implement missing functionality and enable step
    }
}

There are two interesting elements:

  • Last step annotated with @Pending annotation.
  • ShoppingCartRow class used to defined products added to the cart.

Typically user story is prepared before implementation. In this situation you will have several pending steps, slowly implemented during the sprint. Pending step does not mean that acceptance tests have failed, it only means that functionality has not been implemented yet.

ShoppingCartRow is a simple bean prepared for tabular parameters definition in the story. Do you remember this step?

ShoppingCartSteps
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When products are added to the shopping cart:
|PRODUCT                 |QTY|
|Domain Driven Design    |  1|
|Specification By Example|  2|

Basket presented in tabular form is much easier to read than if it would be defined line by line. To use this kind of parameter you have to prepare a class with a few annotations.

ShoppingCartRow
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@AsParameters
public static class ShoppingCartRow {

    @Parameter(name = "PRODUCT")
    private String productName;

    @Parameter(name = "QTY")
    private Integer quantity;

    public String getProductName() {
        return productName;
    }

    public void setProductName(String productName) {
        this.productName = productName;
    }

    public Integer getQuantity() {
        return quantity;
    }

    public void setQuantity(Integer quantity) {
        this.quantity = quantity;
    }
}

JBehave uses this annotated class to convert table row from user story to Java object.

Running tests

The last part of this post is about running tests.

For every user story definition, one test class is defined. The test class is only the marker and does not define any logic.

LearnJBehaveStory.java
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@RunWith(SpringJUnit4ClassRunner.class)
@AcceptanceTest
public class LearnJbehaveStory extends AbstractSpringJBehaveStory {
}

The test can be executed directly from your favourite IDE, at least if the IDE provides support for JUnit runner.

The second way to execute tests is to use Maven from command line. As long as tests are executed by regular Maven Surefire Plugin, the tests are executed exactly the same way like any other tests. Run the following command from the project parent directory. Maven builds the application module first, add the classes to the reactor classpath and then execute acceptance tests from tests module.

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mvn -pl example-jbehave-tests -am test

The convenient way to execute single test from command line is to use regular Java property -Dtest recognized by Surefire.

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mvn -pl example-jbehave-tests -am test -Dtest=LearnJbehaveStory
...

Summary

In the post I presented the most important elements from example project. The complete project is hosted on GitHub, you can clone/fork the project and do some experiments by yourself. I configure Travis continuous integration build to ensure that the project really works.

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