Organised and facilitated by Elizabeth Hendrickson this was a great group of people to meet with. Elizabeth ran the day as an open-space, a format which I really enjoy, and which worked very well for such an interesting, intelligent and enthused bunch of people.
I came away from the day having had the chance to discuss, in depth, some ideas that had just been floating around in my head as vague notions. This is the really great thing about getting groups like this together – you find that there are actually other people who you can talk to about these crazy ideas.
We also came up with a fantastic new feature for Cucumber. More on that later.
Long-running acceptance tests suites are a problem we’ve spoken about before. Following these discussions, I’m now more convinced than ever that the feature missing in most of our automated acceptance testing tools right now is memory. By remembering test results from previous runs, and ideally the source code changes that were associated with that run, we can build a model of the tests and their relationship to the code. We can use this to help prioritise the tests to optimise for failing fast – pick the tests most likely to fail and run them first. This is the strategy JUnit max has adopted, and it really makes sense to me. I look forward to getting some time to develop these ideas further.
I ended up in a session about using Cucumber with .NET which I think Aslak and I had both expected to be about explaining the new abstraction of ‘programming language’ in Cucumber, which allows step definitions (the glue that allows the cukes to drive your app) to be written in a variety of languages. In fact, the feedback we got from the assembled was that it would be even better to offer a generic ‘wire level’ language. This would then allow people on any platform at all to work with Cucumber – currently only platforms that run Ruby will work – and to write their step definitions without having to touch Ruby at all.
This is an idea that could only have emerged by getting that group of people together. Richard Lawrence and I paired up there and then and got to work on the new feature, which I fleshed out during more pairing sessions during the week with Aslak and Richard. Watch this space for more details as we get this working.