Skillsmatter BDD Exchange

Last week I travelled down to London to the BDD Exchange conference. It was a one-day conference organised by Gojko Adzic and I had a great time. I missed Gojko’s talk as I travelled down from my cave in Scotland on the day, but I did arrive in time to see Chris Matt’s excellent lecture on what business analysis really should be about.

I particularly enjoyed the talk from Christian Hassa about teams failing to make BDD work. We can learn the most from failure, and Christian’s thoughtful analysis of what he’s observed in the field as a consultant with TechTalk is useful to any team trying to get the most from these techniques. The message of Christian’s talk very much echoed my own, that the tooling you use is entirely secondary to the collaborative relationship you need to build between the business and technical-facing members of the team. I was interested to learn about the tool, SpecLog, TechTalk are building to help teams with this problem, which seems to have many similar goals to my own Relish. It was nice of Christian to give Relish a name-check in his talk.

My session ran along the same theme as my talk from earlier in the year at Skillsmatter, describing the value of writing acceptance tests at the right level of abstraction, so that they describe business rules rather than implementation details. You can watch the session here.

Agile / Lean Software Development

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Relish Roadmap

I want to give you some news about the future of Relish. A lot has happened since we first started the project just over a year ago. Justin quit the project to concentrate on his new role on the RSpec core team, The Cucumber Book went into beta, and my wife gave birth to our second child. All of those things have meant that Relish hasn’t been able to progress as quickly as I’d have ideally liked, so thanks for sticking with us!

I’m still passionate about the vision for Relish, and as I teach training courses on using Cucumber and BDD, it seems to resonate with a lot of people. With The Cucumber Book pretty much behind us now, Relish will come back into focus and the pace will pick up again. I hope to have it launched by the end of the first quarter of 2012.

Here’s a rough outline of what we plan to do:

Usability & Information Architecture Enhancements

I have an IA specialist on the team now, and you may have noticed the first tweaks we’ve been making this week. There’s a lot to catch up, so we’ll focus on this until the existing features are polished to his (and hopefully your) satisfaction. Please let us know how we’re doing as we progress, and let us know if any of the changes annoy or delight you.

If there’s anything specific you’d like to see done that isn’t already logged in UserVoice, please add it there or reply to this post.

Test Results

Relish can’t deliver on the promise of living documentation until the non-technical readers can tell, when they’re looking at a scenario, whether it’s passing or not. We’ll be building a plugin for Cucumber that allows developers and testers to send their test results to Relish, so each scenario can be rendered with a big green tick if it’s passing. This will also enable us to start building all kinds of exciting dashboards for project managers to get a high-level overview of what’s going on.

Commenting / Feedback

Just being able to read features is not enough. I want Relish to be a collaboration tool, and that means that stakeholders should be able to comment on and give feedback about the documentation they’re reading.

RSS / Activity Feeds

People who want to stay up to date with changes to a project will be able to get a nice high-level summary via RSS, and possibly other means too.

Enterprise Install

As the codebase stabilises, I’m becoming increasingly comfortable with the idea of a stand-alone installer for customers who are not happy about having their features stored outside of their firewall. In the new year, I’ll be looking for a couple of friendly enterprise customers to help me shape this. If you’re interested, please get in touch.

Plans & Pricing

Yes, it had to happen eventually :)

When we come out of private beta (which is still a few months away), it will be with paid accounts for private projects. This is a hard call to make, and I’ll be in working with our beta tester community to get an idea of what they feel is a reasonable price to pay for the service. Public accounts like RSpec and VCR will continue to be free.

As always, I’m keen to hear what you think of these plans. Let me know in the comments.

Agile / Lean Software Development

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Targeting Multiple Platforms (JRuby etc) with a RubyGems .gemspec

Recently we had a user who runs the relish gem on JRuby, and needed jruby-openssl to be loaded. He kindly submitted this patch, which I merged in without really thinking about it too much. Then the problems started.

That’s not the right way to express dependencies for different platforms using RubyGems and Bundler. I’ve done some research and I think I understand the current good practice for this, so I’m going to document it here.

The .gemspec is read at the time you build and release your gem, so any conditional logic in that file will be evaluated once when the gem is built and released on your machine. So a line like this:

s.add_runtime_dependency('jruby-openssl') if RUBY_PLATFORM == 'java'

Will bake-in the dependency based on whatever platform you run gem build on.

What you need instead is to evaluate the platform at runtime. Bundler offers you a way to do this, in your Gemfile:

platforms :jruby do
  gem "jruby-openssl"
end

What a jruby user will now experience is that when your gem is loaded, they’ll see a warning:

→ relish help
JRuby limited openssl loaded. http://jruby.org/openssl
gem install jruby-openssl for full support.
...

It’s now up to the user to manually install the gem themselves. It seems a shame that there isn’t any way to specify this information in the gem’s manifest, so that it can be installed on a platform-specific basis when you gem is installed, but as far as I can tell there’s no way to do that right now.

Agile / Lean Software Development
Ruby Programming

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