Smart BDD Introduction


Smart BDD is the most productive way to implement Behaviour Driven Development. Traditional frameworks have you write the static feature files first, then implement code.

With Smart BDD you write the code first using best practices and this generates:

  • Interactive feature files that serve as documentation
  • UML diagrams to better document the product
  • A button to re-run the test
  • UI that allows you to change the parameters of the test

This is an example of the end result

GetBook Example Image

public class GetBookTest extends BaseBookStoreTest {

    public void doc() {
        featureNotes("Working progress for example of usage Smart BDD");

    public void getBookByIsbnUsingDefaults() {

    public void getBookByIsbnShowingAllDefaultValues() {

How does it work?

when(aUserRequestsABook()); tokenised to when a user requests a book. It gives you the freedom to write tests in the way you want. There’s a simple api to add notes, capture inputs and output, create uml diagrams etc… It uses JUnit5 to be powerful and extensible, it even facilities re-running tests.

Why is this significant?

The advantages may or may not be obvious, you get to write code that is best suited to test the functionally of your product and or service. As a bonus you get better documentation and a demo app.

So what is wrong with existing approach? Far form doing the above, you write a feature file in plain text, then write code that is corrupted by the feature file. This is additional complexity and will most likely result in:

  • Badly written code
  • Which leads to diminishing returns
  • Which can and often leads to a glass ceiling
  • Which too often results rewriting the testing framework

Yes a small and simple Cucumber, Concordion, JBehave etc… project is simple, the same can be said about most frameworks and projects. So the argument for Smart BDD is best made with real world projects.

Implemented Features

  • Create html documentation / feature files from Java code (as above)
  • Capture downstream interactions and show with diagrams
  • Capture downstream data such as HTTP request/response headers and body
  • More consistent as builders are used to set state and exercise the system under test
  • More productive as you are encouraged to use best practices and don’t have the complexities of traditional glue layers

The projects aim is to:

  • Improve the quality and usefulness of the documentation
  • Improve the confidence and coverage of the tests
  • Improve the performance of the tests
  • Improve the productivity of writing and maintaining the tests

Road Map:

  • Ability to re-run tests
  • Ability to modify the state under test, for example a textbox or a dropdown to modify values
  • Steps wrapped in actions:
    • So that they can be executed asynchronously to improve performance
  • Validate correctness of the scenario by adding/removing and or mutating steps and asserting the expected state and or behavior.
  • Define the data and behaviour JSON documents and generate the builders
  • The above declarative JSON could also be used to generate a demo application
  • Results can be persisted so that previous test results can be queried

smart-bdd usage:

Please see example:bookstore and example:cucumbers. Run GetBookTest and or EatCucumbersTest. You’ll see in the console there is a link to the generated html and json files.

  1. Import the report project testImplementation("io.bit-smart.bdd:report:0.2 -SNAPSHOT") or locally withing this repo testImplementation(project(":report"))
  2. Add @ExtendWith(SmartReport.class) to any class that you want to generate a report from.

Example to from example:bookstore

public class GetBookTest {
    public void getBook() {

Will produce the following step defs:

When get book is called 
Then the book is returned

Example to from example:cucumbers

void givenOneRedAndOneBlueCucumber_whenIEatOneRed_IhaveOneBlueCucumberLeft(){

Will produce the following step defs:

Given I have a cucumber with colour "red" and a cucumber with colour "blue" 
When I request to eat cucumbers with colour "red" 
Then I should have cucumbers with quantity 1 with colour "blue"

Smart BDD projects:

project namepackagedescriptionnotes
rootio.bitsmart.bddroot for repo
reportio.bitsmart.bdd.reportreporting extension @SmartReport and report creation (.html and .json)
wordifyio.bitsmart.bdd.wordifywordify java code
ftio.bitsmart.bdd.ftFT for the report generation utils such as builderonly the builders at the moment
examplesn/aexamples of using Smart BDD

Notes on naming:

  • @SmartReport or is @SmartBdd a better annotation?
  • Current group name io.bit-smart.bdd as everything is BDD orientated. Using io.bit-smart.bdd implies new group names like io.bit-smart.nft for performance testing artifacts.

Testing Locally

./gradlew test

Deploying Locally

Create report, wordify, test-utils
./gradlew publishToMavenLocal

To check the jar was created in maven local
ls -la ~/.m2/repository/io/bit-smart/bdd/report/0.1-SNAPSHOT

Then use the following in your app

Comparison to existing approaches:

The fundamental approach is in stark contrast to existing frameworks: Cucumber, JBehave, Concordion etc…

Traditionally BDD frameworks have approximately four layers:

  1. Feature file / specification / UI:
  • A feature is a text description of a feature that consists of scenarios and are made up of steps
  • This is the first thing that is writen and leads the design for the following.
  1. The glue layer:
  • Matches Java method for that step and the corresponding arguments. Usually a regular expression.
  1. Orchestration of the actual FT framework:
  • A Java method has been supplied data from the glue layer. You’ll need to orchestrate your actual FT framework to actually do any testing.
  • You may have more data than you require - in non-trivial steps you have to chose code re-use or code duplication. Opting for code reuse makes glue layer and down more complex.
  • You may have a different domain and or bounded context for the feature file and the actual FT framework domain. This means adapting/transforming the data for the FT framework.
  1. The actual FT framework:
  • This usually would have the following functionality:
    • Set state before and after tests.
    • Exercise the thing under test.
    • Store state so that you assert on expected behaviour.
    • State and behaviour verification.
  • This has been designed to accommodate additional complexities from above.

Adding new data, steps and or features is not linear because of the following:

  • Complexity
  • Coupling to between layers
  • Limitations in the glue layer
    • Forcing step definitions to be constructed in a certain way. Possibly not the way you planned and or wanted.
    • Forcing refactoring when you alter steps definitions

These 3 forces can unfortunately can compound each other. Complexity and coupling should be kept to a minimum not part of the solution. Layers 1-3 exist so that we can have feature files, these serve as static documentation for the system. There are no guaranties that the documentation is consistent, in fact there isn’t anything enforcing it.

The alternative to this is generating dynamic, consistent documentation. With Smart BDD you leg up on developing the actual FT framework, so you can focus on testing your application. You add @SmartReport annotation to your class, this will generate a report. There is a wordify process that takes the Java code and converts it in English sentences. For example givenSomething() would produce given something. There is a strong emphasis on using builders therefore forcing you to create a fluent API.

The wordify process isn’t finished, you can’t simply get rid of complexity and coupling, but it’s the gaol of this project to reduce both of them.

With thanks to who did a similar project that worked with JUnit 4.

I’m looking for more real world usages, I’ve love help anyone write new tests and or migrate legacy tests to this framework. If you’re interested please contact me - see for my contact details.