Discussion:
[Cucumber] [GENERAL] State of the Cucumber/BDD Nation - Long Post Alert
(too old to reply)
'Wayne Owens' via Cukes
2016-10-08 09:21:46 UTC
Permalink
Hello,



In the company at which I work, we've dabbled in using Cucumber over the
last year or so, but it's usage is already dying out as its main proponents
are leaving. This is almost certainly "our" fault, as we often follow a
pattern of half-heartedly adopting the latest approach, then getting
dragged back to our old (failing) ways of working. I've only tangentially
been involved in our use of Cucumber, but having read the Cucumber Book and
Specification By Example about two years ago, I'm sold on the concept of a
living specification, so was disappointed to see us abandoning this idea.
As such, *I've been trying to find out how other organisations have
progressed with SBE. I've not found anything that conclusive, so I thought
I'd ask on here* - not sure if it is the right forum for such general
questions, but it seems pretty active and is in the right ballpark, so
hopefully you'll indulge me. I've tried to break my questions into three
areas.



1. Reading
https://cucumber.io/blog/2014/03/03/the-worlds-most-misunderstood-collaboration-tool,
it appears that there's been some turbulence around using Cucumber for
integration tests, instead of collaboration. I think we also fell into this
trap, and this misuse has sparked the development of Cucumber Pro.


More generally, looking at the comments on the aforementioned article, *there's
a perception that few organisations enable business reps to spend time with
Developers and Testers writing Gherkin scenarios. Presumably most of the
people in this Google Group are working at places where this collaboration
is occurring. So, I'm keen to know how this was achieved and whether not
having this level of interaction is a widespread problem.*


One comment states the following:


"Cucumber does work in some places, in other places not so well, and in
other places its implementation has been disastrous. I guess the later is
becoming increasingly prevalent judging from this post ... I think Cucumber
and BDD was a great idea that just hasn't worked out ... The introduction
of BDD has confused TDD, which in most cases is what we need. And if you
can sit in a room writing Gherkin for hours, you could instead sit with a
business analyst to discuss the feature just before implementation."


The latter strikes me as a key point - maybe this is something Cucumber Pro
will address? I'm not confident I'd be able to answer this myself just by
playing round with a demo in isolation. *Is one aim of Cucumber Pro to
still produce a living specification writing in Gherkin, or is the focus
now on Discovery By Example (the term mentioned by Aslak HellesÞy in the
blog)? Is it rare for systems to have a living specification currently?*



2. *Has there been any move towards on using unstructured natural language
rather than Gherkin for SBE?* The authors of the Autotestbot tool discuss
this option at http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/etd/13937/, but I can't see any
evidence that it's been developed any further.



3. *Is anyone aware of BDD tools that cover ubiquitous language definition
and iterative decomposition of business goals into features, user stories,
and acceptance criteria*, i.e. some of the gaps identified in
http://www.ijcst.com/vol71/1/5-buddharaju-shanmukh-varma.pdf? Again,
perhaps this is something Cucumber Pro will cover.



On re-reading my post, it does look like an attempt to get people to
complete a school project for me. Sorry. I'm just genuinely trying to
understand where the industry has got to with SBE, and couldn't find any
useful resources elsewhere.



Thanks,


Wayne
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'Wayne Owens' via Cukes
2016-10-08 13:47:49 UTC
Permalink
Re. 1 - After writing all that, I remembered that I should search github to
see how many projects were using Cucumber. Perhaps not that illustrative of
the commercial world, but there were 318 repositories with Feature files. A
lot seemed fairly small, but over 200 were updated in the last year. So,
not a mainstream activity, but certainly signs of life.

Cheers,

Wayne.
Post by 'Wayne Owens' via Cukes
Hello,
In the company at which I work, we've dabbled in using Cucumber over the
last year or so, but it's usage is already dying out as its main proponents
are leaving. This is almost certainly "our" fault, as we often follow a
pattern of half-heartedly adopting the latest approach, then getting
dragged back to our old (failing) ways of working. I've only tangentially
been involved in our use of Cucumber, but having read the Cucumber Book and
Specification By Example about two years ago, I'm sold on the concept of a
living specification, so was disappointed to see us abandoning this idea.
As such, *I've been trying to find out how other organisations have
progressed with SBE. I've not found anything that conclusive, so I thought
I'd ask on here* - not sure if it is the right forum for such general
questions, but it seems pretty active and is in the right ballpark, so
hopefully you'll indulge me. I've tried to break my questions into three
areas.
1. Reading
https://cucumber.io/blog/2014/03/03/the-worlds-most-misunderstood-collaboration-tool,
it appears that there's been some turbulence around using Cucumber for
integration tests, instead of collaboration. I think we also fell into this
trap, and this misuse has sparked the development of Cucumber Pro.
More generally, looking at the comments on the aforementioned article, *there's
a perception that few organisations enable business reps to spend time with
Developers and Testers writing Gherkin scenarios. Presumably most of the
people in this Google Group are working at places where this collaboration
is occurring. So, I'm keen to know how this was achieved and whether not
having this level of interaction is a widespread problem.*
"Cucumber does work in some places, in other places not so well, and in
other places its implementation has been disastrous. I guess the later is
becoming increasingly prevalent judging from this post ... I think Cucumber
and BDD was a great idea that just hasn't worked out ... The introduction
of BDD has confused TDD, which in most cases is what we need. And if you
can sit in a room writing Gherkin for hours, you could instead sit with a
business analyst to discuss the feature just before implementation."
The latter strikes me as a key point - maybe this is something Cucumber
Pro will address? I'm not confident I'd be able to answer this myself just
by playing round with a demo in isolation. *Is one aim of Cucumber Pro to
still produce a living specification writing in Gherkin, or is the focus
now on Discovery By Example (the term mentioned by Aslak HellesÞy in the
blog)? Is it rare for systems to have a living specification currently?*
2. *Has there been any move towards on using unstructured natural
language rather than Gherkin for SBE?* The authors of the Autotestbot
tool discuss this option at http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/etd/13937/, but I
can't see any evidence that it's been developed any further.
3. *Is anyone aware of BDD tools that cover ubiquitous language
definition and iterative decomposition of business goals into features,
user stories, and acceptance criteria*, i.e. some of the gaps identified
in http://www.ijcst.com/vol71/1/5-buddharaju-shanmukh-varma.pdf? Again,
perhaps this is something Cucumber Pro will cover.
On re-reading my post, it does look like an attempt to get people to
complete a school project for me. Sorry. I'm just genuinely trying to
understand where the industry has got to with SBE, and couldn't find any
useful resources elsewhere.
Thanks,
Wayne
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Andrew Premdas
2016-10-09 13:41:12 UTC
Permalink
First of all, all of the following is anecdotal, highly opinionated and
based on my personal experience of using Cucumber since day 0 (actually
before then) and moderating this list for more years than I can remember.
It will use a scatter gun approach and just put a bunch of random thoughts
which I hope will be of some use.

note: Alot of the following uses a structure Cucumber requires this ... .
Take this as a short cut for something much wordier which is mostly about
process, organisations and people and just a little bit about Cucumber.

1. Most large organisations write dreadful software that doesn't work very
well if it all. Despite this sometimes they can still produce highly
successful products.

2. Cucumber is often seen and sold as a silver bullet to solve the problems
of large organisations (note: not by the core contributors). At best
Cucumber is a tool that can help facilitate a different approach to writing
software. That approach is centred on describing and discovering behaviour,
expressing it eloquently and using the power of natural language to
discover useful abstractions.

3. Using Cucumber really effectively requires extraordinarily high amounts
of discipline and precision around using language precisely and eloquently.

4. Implementing Cucumber scenarios requires similar levels of discipline

5. The previous two points are really hard to do when you have an
incomplete poorly formed understanding of your domain.

6. All software projects have a poorly formed and incomplete understanding
of their domain.

7. Very few people who work on software projects have exceptional natural
language and technical language skills.

Conclusion A: Cucumber implementations inevitably will be poorly formed and
badly expressed. The only solution to this is to refactor all the time. As
we learn more about our domain it is essential to refactor our existing
scenarios to reflect our new knowledge and improve. In my projects my
Cucumber implementations have by far the highest churn rate of all the code.

8. Cucumber contains a number of capabilities which were designed to make
writing features easier. Strangely most of these make writing (and in
particular implementing scenarios) much more difficult. The biggest
culprits are

- nested steps ( I think these are mostly dead now )
- scenario outlines
- example tables

There is no need for any of these to be any living specification of a
project. The only valid use of outlines and examples is in the creation of
scenarios. By the time scenarios are implemented they should be removed and
replaced by suitable abstractions. (I suspect there are very few people who
do this).

9. Finding abstractions to remove outlines and examples is not easy.

10. Cucumber requires developers who can understand and question what they
are being asked to do and why they are being asked to something.

11. Cucumber requires stakeholders who can be responsive to questions about
what is being developed, and in particular be responsive and not threatened
by challenges to why things are being developed.

12. Cucumber requires implementers who understand the difference between
WHAT, WHY and HOW.

13. Cucumber works best when scenarios only contain WHAT, and WHY

14. Cucumber has a very particular understanding of the words WHAT, WHY and
HOW

15. Very few scenarios that you see will only contain WHAT and WHY and most
of these will seem (initially) trivial, simplistic, so they tend to be
dismissed. Yet the whole art of writing scenarios is to produce something
that is simple and eloquent. These scenarios will exercise functionality
that is complex and detailed. But that complexity and detail has no place
in the scenario.

Well I could go on and on and on


Back to some questions from the OP ...

Using unstructured language instead of Gherkin creates a much harder
technical problem. So I'm not surprised you can't find any tools using
unstructured language.

For me the biggest problem with Gherkin is that it allows to wide a range
of expression encouraging complexity in expression and implementation. The
process required to write good software that does what you want involves
the journey from the chaos and imprecision of a natural language expression
of some functionality to the precision of code that implements the
functionality. A well written scenario is a useful waypoint on this journey

------

There is a tool for
* 'ubiquitous language definition and iterative decomposition of business
goals into features' ...*

its the human brain.

If you put a few of these together through a process of collaboration you
can get your features which are 'just' a starting point.

------

I've been using Cucumber for about a decade. Your company has been dabbling
with it for a year, and all the people that were proponents of it are
leaving. You seem to be questioning the validity of Cucumber, when the
evidence (from your post) clearly indicates that your company has a culture
and process that does not 'embrace change' and is not responsive to the
changes required to use Cucumber effectively.

-----

Industries don't get anywhere with software processes. People get to places
with software processes. Some people get together use exemplary software
process, produce a great software that is then never used (C3). Other
people get together, use dreadful software processes produce really poor
quality software that is enormously successful. And of course there are all
the things in and around those extremes.

------

For me personally BDD and Cucumber made a huge improvement to the way I
work and develop software. When I use Cucumber really well I tend to write
software that has a reasonable degree of clarity, organisation and
structure, I end up with a code that rarely has production errors, and
rarely needs debugging. Because of this and many other things I will fight
to get conditions that allow me to use Cucumber really well.

In all my time working I have never come close too finding an organisation
that embraces BDD and Cucumber and uses it really well, the best I've
managed is to carve a niche that allows me (and occasionally a few
colleagues) to use them in a reasonable manner.

Anyhow thats all folks ...

Hope its of some use

All best

Andrew
Post by 'Wayne Owens' via Cukes
Re. 1 - After writing all that, I remembered that I should search github
to see how many projects were using Cucumber. Perhaps not that illustrative
of the commercial world, but there were 318 repositories with Feature
files. A lot seemed fairly small, but over 200 were updated in the last
year. So, not a mainstream activity, but certainly signs of life.
Cheers,
Wayne.
Post by 'Wayne Owens' via Cukes
Hello,
In the company at which I work, we've dabbled in using Cucumber over the
last year or so, but it's usage is already dying out as its main proponents
are leaving. This is almost certainly "our" fault, as we often follow a
pattern of half-heartedly adopting the latest approach, then getting
dragged back to our old (failing) ways of working. I've only tangentially
been involved in our use of Cucumber, but having read the Cucumber Book and
Specification By Example about two years ago, I'm sold on the concept of a
living specification, so was disappointed to see us abandoning this idea.
As such, *I've been trying to find out how other organisations have
progressed with SBE. I've not found anything that conclusive, so I thought
I'd ask on here* - not sure if it is the right forum for such general
questions, but it seems pretty active and is in the right ballpark, so
hopefully you'll indulge me. I've tried to break my questions into three
areas.
1. Reading https://cucumber.io/blog/2014/03/03/the-worlds-most-misunder
stood-collaboration-tool, it appears that there's been some turbulence
around using Cucumber for integration tests, instead of collaboration. I
think we also fell into this trap, and this misuse has sparked the
development of Cucumber Pro.
More generally, looking at the comments on the aforementioned article, *there's
a perception that few organisations enable business reps to spend time with
Developers and Testers writing Gherkin scenarios. Presumably most of the
people in this Google Group are working at places where this collaboration
is occurring. So, I'm keen to know how this was achieved and whether not
having this level of interaction is a widespread problem.*
"Cucumber does work in some places, in other places not so well, and in
other places its implementation has been disastrous. I guess the later is
becoming increasingly prevalent judging from this post ... I think Cucumber
and BDD was a great idea that just hasn't worked out ... The introduction
of BDD has confused TDD, which in most cases is what we need. And if you
can sit in a room writing Gherkin for hours, you could instead sit with a
business analyst to discuss the feature just before implementation."
The latter strikes me as a key point - maybe this is something Cucumber
Pro will address? I'm not confident I'd be able to answer this myself just
by playing round with a demo in isolation. *Is one aim of Cucumber Pro
to still produce a living specification writing in Gherkin, or is the focus
now on Discovery By Example (the term mentioned by Aslak HellesÞy in the
blog)? Is it rare for systems to have a living specification currently?*
2. *Has there been any move towards on using unstructured natural
language rather than Gherkin for SBE?* The authors of the Autotestbot
tool discuss this option at http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/etd/13937/, but I
can't see any evidence that it's been developed any further.
3. *Is anyone aware of BDD tools that cover ubiquitous language
definition and iterative decomposition of business goals into features,
user stories, and acceptance criteria*, i.e. some of the gaps identified
in http://www.ijcst.com/vol71/1/5-buddharaju-shanmukh-varma.pdf? Again,
perhaps this is something Cucumber Pro will cover.
On re-reading my post, it does look like an attempt to get people to
complete a school project for me. Sorry. I'm just genuinely trying to
understand where the industry has got to with SBE, and couldn't find any
useful resources elsewhere.
Thanks,
Wayne
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'Wayne Owens' via Cukes
2016-10-11 21:53:45 UTC
Permalink
Thanks for the comprehensive reply, Andrew.

Re "Using unstructured language instead of Gherkin creates a much harder
technical problem. So I'm not surprised you can't find any tools using
unstructured language." Agreed, the problem seems much harder. I was
surprised the authors were so confident their tool could parse unstructured
language accurately enough in order to use it for automated acceptance
testing, but then I'm not an expert in this area. I guess my inability to
find out subsequent information on their tool may suggest the problem was
harder than anticipated :).

Re "You seem to be questioning the validity of Cucumber, when the evidence
(from your post) clearly indicates that your company has a culture and
process that does not 'embrace change' and is not responsive to the changes
required to use Cucumber effectively." I'm definitely not questioning the
validity of Cucumber. I'd have been very happy to use it, although that's
honestly more because I liked the living specification idea and the way the
tool was put together, rather than any desire to work collaboratively
(which appears to be key). The whole purpose of my initial preamble was to
acknowledge our lack of progress is almost certainly down to deficiencies
in our organisation, not Cucumber itself. Not having worked with Cucumber
in anger, I would be remiss of me to claim it's invalid. However, having
working for my organisation for a long time in anger, I'm far more
comfortable apportioning "blame" there (and with myself).

Cheers,

Wayne
Post by Andrew Premdas
First of all, all of the following is anecdotal, highly opinionated and
based on my personal experience of using Cucumber since day 0 (actually
before then) and moderating this list for more years than I can remember.
It will use a scatter gun approach and just put a bunch of random thoughts
which I hope will be of some use.
note: Alot of the following uses a structure Cucumber requires this ... .
Take this as a short cut for something much wordier which is mostly about
process, organisations and people and just a little bit about Cucumber.
1. Most large organisations write dreadful software that doesn't work very
well if it all. Despite this sometimes they can still produce highly
successful products.
2. Cucumber is often seen and sold as a silver bullet to solve the
problems of large organisations (note: not by the core contributors). At
best Cucumber is a tool that can help facilitate a different approach to
writing software. That approach is centred on describing and discovering
behaviour, expressing it eloquently and using the power of natural language
to discover useful abstractions.
3. Using Cucumber really effectively requires extraordinarily high amounts
of discipline and precision around using language precisely and eloquently.
4. Implementing Cucumber scenarios requires similar levels of discipline
5. The previous two points are really hard to do when you have an
incomplete poorly formed understanding of your domain.
6. All software projects have a poorly formed and incomplete understanding
of their domain.
7. Very few people who work on software projects have exceptional natural
language and technical language skills.
Conclusion A: Cucumber implementations inevitably will be poorly formed
and badly expressed. The only solution to this is to refactor all the time.
As we learn more about our domain it is essential to refactor our existing
scenarios to reflect our new knowledge and improve. In my projects my
Cucumber implementations have by far the highest churn rate of all the code.
8. Cucumber contains a number of capabilities which were designed to make
writing features easier. Strangely most of these make writing (and in
particular implementing scenarios) much more difficult. The biggest
culprits are
- nested steps ( I think these are mostly dead now )
- scenario outlines
- example tables
There is no need for any of these to be any living specification of a
project. The only valid use of outlines and examples is in the creation of
scenarios. By the time scenarios are implemented they should be removed and
replaced by suitable abstractions. (I suspect there are very few people who
do this).
9. Finding abstractions to remove outlines and examples is not easy.
10. Cucumber requires developers who can understand and question what they
are being asked to do and why they are being asked to something.
11. Cucumber requires stakeholders who can be responsive to questions
about what is being developed, and in particular be responsive and not
threatened by challenges to why things are being developed.
12. Cucumber requires implementers who understand the difference between
WHAT, WHY and HOW.
13. Cucumber works best when scenarios only contain WHAT, and WHY
14. Cucumber has a very particular understanding of the words WHAT, WHY
and HOW
15. Very few scenarios that you see will only contain WHAT and WHY and
most of these will seem (initially) trivial, simplistic, so they tend to be
dismissed. Yet the whole art of writing scenarios is to produce something
that is simple and eloquent. These scenarios will exercise functionality
that is complex and detailed. But that complexity and detail has no place
in the scenario.
Well I could go on and on and on
Back to some questions from the OP ...
Using unstructured language instead of Gherkin creates a much harder
technical problem. So I'm not surprised you can't find any tools using
unstructured language.
For me the biggest problem with Gherkin is that it allows to wide a range
of expression encouraging complexity in expression and implementation. The
process required to write good software that does what you want involves
the journey from the chaos and imprecision of a natural language expression
of some functionality to the precision of code that implements the
functionality. A well written scenario is a useful waypoint on this journey
------
There is a tool for
* 'ubiquitous language definition and iterative decomposition of business
goals into features' ...*
its the human brain.
If you put a few of these together through a process of collaboration you
can get your features which are 'just' a starting point.
------
I've been using Cucumber for about a decade. Your company has been
dabbling with it for a year, and all the people that were proponents of it
are leaving. You seem to be questioning the validity of Cucumber, when the
evidence (from your post) clearly indicates that your company has a culture
and process that does not 'embrace change' and is not responsive to the
changes required to use Cucumber effectively.
-----
Industries don't get anywhere with software processes. People get to
places with software processes. Some people get together use exemplary
software process, produce a great software that is then never used (C3).
Other people get together, use dreadful software processes produce really
poor quality software that is enormously successful. And of course there
are all the things in and around those extremes.
------
For me personally BDD and Cucumber made a huge improvement to the way I
work and develop software. When I use Cucumber really well I tend to write
software that has a reasonable degree of clarity, organisation and
structure, I end up with a code that rarely has production errors, and
rarely needs debugging. Because of this and many other things I will fight
to get conditions that allow me to use Cucumber really well.
In all my time working I have never come close too finding an organisation
that embraces BDD and Cucumber and uses it really well, the best I've
managed is to carve a niche that allows me (and occasionally a few
colleagues) to use them in a reasonable manner.
Anyhow thats all folks ...
Hope its of some use
All best
Andrew
On 8 October 2016 at 14:47, 'Wayne Owens' via Cukes <
Post by 'Wayne Owens' via Cukes
Re. 1 - After writing all that, I remembered that I should search github
to see how many projects were using Cucumber. Perhaps not that illustrative
of the commercial world, but there were 318 repositories with Feature
files. A lot seemed fairly small, but over 200 were updated in the last
year. So, not a mainstream activity, but certainly signs of life.
Cheers,
Wayne.
Post by 'Wayne Owens' via Cukes
Hello,
In the company at which I work, we've dabbled in using Cucumber over the
last year or so, but it's usage is already dying out as its main proponents
are leaving. This is almost certainly "our" fault, as we often follow a
pattern of half-heartedly adopting the latest approach, then getting
dragged back to our old (failing) ways of working. I've only tangentially
been involved in our use of Cucumber, but having read the Cucumber Book and
Specification By Example about two years ago, I'm sold on the concept of a
living specification, so was disappointed to see us abandoning this idea.
As such, *I've been trying to find out how other organisations have
progressed with SBE. I've not found anything that conclusive, so I thought
I'd ask on here* - not sure if it is the right forum for such general
questions, but it seems pretty active and is in the right ballpark, so
hopefully you'll indulge me. I've tried to break my questions into three
areas.
1. Reading
https://cucumber.io/blog/2014/03/03/the-worlds-most-misunderstood-collaboration-tool,
it appears that there's been some turbulence around using Cucumber for
integration tests, instead of collaboration. I think we also fell into this
trap, and this misuse has sparked the development of Cucumber Pro.
More generally, looking at the comments on the aforementioned article, *there's
a perception that few organisations enable business reps to spend time with
Developers and Testers writing Gherkin scenarios. Presumably most of the
people in this Google Group are working at places where this collaboration
is occurring. So, I'm keen to know how this was achieved and whether not
having this level of interaction is a widespread problem.*
"Cucumber does work in some places, in other places not so well, and in
other places its implementation has been disastrous. I guess the later is
becoming increasingly prevalent judging from this post ... I think Cucumber
and BDD was a great idea that just hasn't worked out ... The introduction
of BDD has confused TDD, which in most cases is what we need. And if you
can sit in a room writing Gherkin for hours, you could instead sit with a
business analyst to discuss the feature just before implementation."
The latter strikes me as a key point - maybe this is something Cucumber
Pro will address? I'm not confident I'd be able to answer this myself just
by playing round with a demo in isolation. *Is one aim of Cucumber Pro
to still produce a living specification writing in Gherkin, or is the focus
now on Discovery By Example (the term mentioned by Aslak HellesÞy in the
blog)? Is it rare for systems to have a living specification currently?*
2. *Has there been any move towards on using unstructured natural
language rather than Gherkin for SBE?* The authors of the Autotestbot
tool discuss this option at http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/etd/13937/, but I
can't see any evidence that it's been developed any further.
3. *Is anyone aware of BDD tools that cover ubiquitous language
definition and iterative decomposition of business goals into features,
user stories, and acceptance criteria*, i.e. some of the gaps
identified in
http://www.ijcst.com/vol71/1/5-buddharaju-shanmukh-varma.pdf? Again,
perhaps this is something Cucumber Pro will cover.
On re-reading my post, it does look like an attempt to get people to
complete a school project for me. Sorry. I'm just genuinely trying to
understand where the industry has got to with SBE, and couldn't find any
useful resources elsewhere.
Thanks,
Wayne
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------------------------
Andrew Premdas
blog.andrew.premdas.org
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Theo England
2016-10-11 09:21:35 UTC
Permalink
Hey Wayne!

Theo here from Cucumber. We're currently working on a couple of in-depth
case studies with folks who are using BDD and Cucumber. We hope this will
illustrate by way of example how BDD can help teams. Watch this space...

Some other reading/videos/podcasts:
Video - How we practice BDD while building Cucumber Pro:
skillsmatter.com/skillscasts/7361-keynote-kind-of-green
Post - BDD in Finance -
https://cucumber.io/blog/2015/07/01/bdd-in-the-financial-sector
Podcast - Cucumber anti-patterns
- https://soundcloud.com/cucumber-podcast/cucumber-anti-patterns

Cucumber Pro will focus on making it easier for non-technical team members
to influence the behaviour of the software. There's some more information
on our roadmap here
<https://app.cucumber.pro/projects/cucumber-pro/documents/master/features/README.md>
.

Cheers,

Theo
Post by 'Wayne Owens' via Cukes
Hello,
In the company at which I work, we've dabbled in using Cucumber over the
last year or so, but it's usage is already dying out as its main proponents
are leaving. This is almost certainly "our" fault, as we often follow a
pattern of half-heartedly adopting the latest approach, then getting
dragged back to our old (failing) ways of working. I've only tangentially
been involved in our use of Cucumber, but having read the Cucumber Book and
Specification By Example about two years ago, I'm sold on the concept of a
living specification, so was disappointed to see us abandoning this idea.
As such, *I've been trying to find out how other organisations have
progressed with SBE. I've not found anything that conclusive, so I thought
I'd ask on here* - not sure if it is the right forum for such general
questions, but it seems pretty active and is in the right ballpark, so
hopefully you'll indulge me. I've tried to break my questions into three
areas.
1. Reading
https://cucumber.io/blog/2014/03/03/the-worlds-most-misunderstood-collaboration-tool,
it appears that there's been some turbulence around using Cucumber for
integration tests, instead of collaboration. I think we also fell into this
trap, and this misuse has sparked the development of Cucumber Pro.
More generally, looking at the comments on the aforementioned article, *there's
a perception that few organisations enable business reps to spend time with
Developers and Testers writing Gherkin scenarios. Presumably most of the
people in this Google Group are working at places where this collaboration
is occurring. So, I'm keen to know how this was achieved and whether not
having this level of interaction is a widespread problem.*
"Cucumber does work in some places, in other places not so well, and in
other places its implementation has been disastrous. I guess the later is
becoming increasingly prevalent judging from this post ... I think Cucumber
and BDD was a great idea that just hasn't worked out ... The introduction
of BDD has confused TDD, which in most cases is what we need. And if you
can sit in a room writing Gherkin for hours, you could instead sit with a
business analyst to discuss the feature just before implementation."
The latter strikes me as a key point - maybe this is something Cucumber
Pro will address? I'm not confident I'd be able to answer this myself just
by playing round with a demo in isolation. *Is one aim of Cucumber Pro to
still produce a living specification writing in Gherkin, or is the focus
now on Discovery By Example (the term mentioned by Aslak HellesÞy in the
blog)? Is it rare for systems to have a living specification currently?*
2. *Has there been any move towards on using unstructured natural
language rather than Gherkin for SBE?* The authors of the Autotestbot
tool discuss this option at http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/etd/13937/, but I
can't see any evidence that it's been developed any further.
3. *Is anyone aware of BDD tools that cover ubiquitous language
definition and iterative decomposition of business goals into features,
user stories, and acceptance criteria*, i.e. some of the gaps identified
in http://www.ijcst.com/vol71/1/5-buddharaju-shanmukh-varma.pdf? Again,
perhaps this is something Cucumber Pro will cover.
On re-reading my post, it does look like an attempt to get people to
complete a school project for me. Sorry. I'm just genuinely trying to
understand where the industry has got to with SBE, and couldn't find any
useful resources elsewhere.
Thanks,
Wayne
--
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80Vikram
2016-10-11 11:14:38 UTC
Permalink
Hi Andrew,

Thanks for some really interesting thoughts, I agree with each of your
points almost 200%.
I have started my "software testing" career way back in Oct. 2002 and still
love doing it.


I've mainly worked with Indian s/w companies who do project for fortune 500
companies and 2 US based product companies ( who had offices in Bangalore )
Irrespective of working with either of Indian or US product / program /
release manager , I always wondered if somebody was really interested in
delivering "quality software" to consumers.

I can relate these experiences in s/w industry ( what I've seen in last 14
years ) to corrupt government employees and engineers in Bangalore laying /
repairing road , which doesn't last more than 3 months. After that they
again need to work on it and cycle goes on and on.

This kind of mentality make sure , we all keep getting monthly salary.
Then one fine day I end up buying Windows vista and Dell laptop ( felt
cheated by big companies ) for thousands of dollars , so money again flow
back to US :)


Coming back to present day ,I work with a startup and trying really hard to
convince all to use BDD techniques.
Some liked it and others didn't. But this doesn't make me dishartened.

To make BDD popular , it should be part of curriculum and PMP certification
or any other recognized s/w courese.

Best Regards,
Vikram
Post by Theo England
Hey Wayne!
Theo here from Cucumber. We're currently working on a couple of in-depth
case studies with folks who are using BDD and Cucumber. We hope this will
illustrate by way of example how BDD can help teams. Watch this space...
skillsmatter.com/skillscasts/7361-keynote-kind-of-green
Post - BDD in Finance -
https://cucumber.io/blog/2015/07/01/bdd-in-the-financial-sector
Podcast - Cucumber anti-patterns -
https://soundcloud.com/cucumber-podcast/cucumber-anti-patterns
Cucumber Pro will focus on making it easier for non-technical team members
to influence the behaviour of the software. There's some more information
on our roadmap here
<https://app.cucumber.pro/projects/cucumber-pro/documents/master/features/README.md>
.
Cheers,
Theo
Post by 'Wayne Owens' via Cukes
Hello,
In the company at which I work, we've dabbled in using Cucumber over the
last year or so, but it's usage is already dying out as its main proponents
are leaving. This is almost certainly "our" fault, as we often follow a
pattern of half-heartedly adopting the latest approach, then getting
dragged back to our old (failing) ways of working. I've only tangentially
been involved in our use of Cucumber, but having read the Cucumber Book and
Specification By Example about two years ago, I'm sold on the concept of a
living specification, so was disappointed to see us abandoning this idea.
As such, *I've been trying to find out how other organisations have
progressed with SBE. I've not found anything that conclusive, so I thought
I'd ask on here* - not sure if it is the right forum for such general
questions, but it seems pretty active and is in the right ballpark, so
hopefully you'll indulge me. I've tried to break my questions into three
areas.
1. Reading
https://cucumber.io/blog/2014/03/03/the-worlds-most-misunderstood-collaboration-tool,
it appears that there's been some turbulence around using Cucumber for
integration tests, instead of collaboration. I think we also fell into this
trap, and this misuse has sparked the development of Cucumber Pro.
More generally, looking at the comments on the aforementioned article, *there's
a perception that few organisations enable business reps to spend time with
Developers and Testers writing Gherkin scenarios. Presumably most of the
people in this Google Group are working at places where this collaboration
is occurring. So, I'm keen to know how this was achieved and whether not
having this level of interaction is a widespread problem.*
"Cucumber does work in some places, in other places not so well, and in
other places its implementation has been disastrous. I guess the later is
becoming increasingly prevalent judging from this post ... I think Cucumber
and BDD was a great idea that just hasn't worked out ... The introduction
of BDD has confused TDD, which in most cases is what we need. And if you
can sit in a room writing Gherkin for hours, you could instead sit with a
business analyst to discuss the feature just before implementation."
The latter strikes me as a key point - maybe this is something Cucumber
Pro will address? I'm not confident I'd be able to answer this myself just
by playing round with a demo in isolation. *Is one aim of Cucumber Pro
to still produce a living specification writing in Gherkin, or is the focus
now on Discovery By Example (the term mentioned by Aslak HellesÞy in the
blog)? Is it rare for systems to have a living specification currently?*
2. *Has there been any move towards on using unstructured natural
language rather than Gherkin for SBE?* The authors of the Autotestbot
tool discuss this option at http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/etd/13937/, but I
can't see any evidence that it's been developed any further.
3. *Is anyone aware of BDD tools that cover ubiquitous language
definition and iterative decomposition of business goals into features,
user stories, and acceptance criteria*, i.e. some of the gaps identified
in http://www.ijcst.com/vol71/1/5-buddharaju-shanmukh-varma.pdf? Again,
perhaps this is something Cucumber Pro will cover.
On re-reading my post, it does look like an attempt to get people to
complete a school project for me. Sorry. I'm just genuinely trying to
understand where the industry has got to with SBE, and couldn't find any
useful resources elsewhere.
Thanks,
Wayne
--
Posting rules: http://cukes.info/posting-rules.html
---
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'Wayne Owens' via Cukes
2016-10-11 21:54:41 UTC
Permalink
Hey Theo,

Great links - thanks.

Wayne
Post by Theo England
Hey Wayne!
Theo here from Cucumber. We're currently working on a couple of in-depth
case studies with folks who are using BDD and Cucumber. We hope this will
illustrate by way of example how BDD can help teams. Watch this space...
skillsmatter.com/skillscasts/7361-keynote-kind-of-green
Post - BDD in Finance -
https://cucumber.io/blog/2015/07/01/bdd-in-the-financial-sector
Podcast - Cucumber anti-patterns -
https://soundcloud.com/cucumber-podcast/cucumber-anti-patterns
Cucumber Pro will focus on making it easier for non-technical team members
to influence the behaviour of the software. There's some more information
on our roadmap here
<https://app.cucumber.pro/projects/cucumber-pro/documents/master/features/README.md>
.
Cheers,
Theo
Post by 'Wayne Owens' via Cukes
Hello,
In the company at which I work, we've dabbled in using Cucumber over the
last year or so, but it's usage is already dying out as its main proponents
are leaving. This is almost certainly "our" fault, as we often follow a
pattern of half-heartedly adopting the latest approach, then getting
dragged back to our old (failing) ways of working. I've only tangentially
been involved in our use of Cucumber, but having read the Cucumber Book and
Specification By Example about two years ago, I'm sold on the concept of a
living specification, so was disappointed to see us abandoning this idea.
As such, *I've been trying to find out how other organisations have
progressed with SBE. I've not found anything that conclusive, so I thought
I'd ask on here* - not sure if it is the right forum for such general
questions, but it seems pretty active and is in the right ballpark, so
hopefully you'll indulge me. I've tried to break my questions into three
areas.
1. Reading
https://cucumber.io/blog/2014/03/03/the-worlds-most-misunderstood-collaboration-tool,
it appears that there's been some turbulence around using Cucumber for
integration tests, instead of collaboration. I think we also fell into this
trap, and this misuse has sparked the development of Cucumber Pro.
More generally, looking at the comments on the aforementioned article, *there's
a perception that few organisations enable business reps to spend time with
Developers and Testers writing Gherkin scenarios. Presumably most of the
people in this Google Group are working at places where this collaboration
is occurring. So, I'm keen to know how this was achieved and whether not
having this level of interaction is a widespread problem.*
"Cucumber does work in some places, in other places not so well, and in
other places its implementation has been disastrous. I guess the later is
becoming increasingly prevalent judging from this post ... I think Cucumber
and BDD was a great idea that just hasn't worked out ... The introduction
of BDD has confused TDD, which in most cases is what we need. And if you
can sit in a room writing Gherkin for hours, you could instead sit with a
business analyst to discuss the feature just before implementation."
The latter strikes me as a key point - maybe this is something Cucumber
Pro will address? I'm not confident I'd be able to answer this myself just
by playing round with a demo in isolation. *Is one aim of Cucumber Pro
to still produce a living specification writing in Gherkin, or is the focus
now on Discovery By Example (the term mentioned by Aslak HellesÞy in the
blog)? Is it rare for systems to have a living specification currently?*
2. *Has there been any move towards on using unstructured natural
language rather than Gherkin for SBE?* The authors of the Autotestbot
tool discuss this option at http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/etd/13937/, but I
can't see any evidence that it's been developed any further.
3. *Is anyone aware of BDD tools that cover ubiquitous language
definition and iterative decomposition of business goals into features,
user stories, and acceptance criteria*, i.e. some of the gaps identified
in http://www.ijcst.com/vol71/1/5-buddharaju-shanmukh-varma.pdf? Again,
perhaps this is something Cucumber Pro will cover.
On re-reading my post, it does look like an attempt to get people to
complete a school project for me. Sorry. I'm just genuinely trying to
understand where the industry has got to with SBE, and couldn't find any
useful resources elsewhere.
Thanks,
Wayne
--
Posting rules: http://cukes.info/posting-rules.html
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George Dinwiddie
2016-10-12 01:14:14 UTC
Permalink
Wayne,
Post by 'Wayne Owens' via Cukes
Hello,
In the company at which I work, we've dabbled in using Cucumber over the
last year or so, but it's usage is already dying out as its main
proponents are leaving. This is almost certainly "our" fault, as we
often follow a pattern of half-heartedly adopting the latest approach,
then getting dragged back to our old (failing) ways of working. I've
only tangentially been involved in our use of Cucumber, but having read
the Cucumber Book and Specification By Example about two years ago, I'm
sold on the concept of a living specification, so was disappointed to
see us abandoning this idea. As such, *I've been trying to find out how
other organisations have progressed with SBE. I've not found anything
that conclusive, so I thought I'd ask on here* - not sure if it is the
right forum for such general questions, but it seems pretty active and
is in the right ballpark, so hopefully you'll indulge me. I've tried to
break my questions into three areas.
Who at your company is championing Specification By Example? Who is
disillusioned about it, and why?
Post by 'Wayne Owens' via Cukes
1. Reading
https://cucumber.io/blog/2014/03/03/the-worlds-most-misunderstood-collaboration-tool,
it appears that there's been some turbulence around using Cucumber for
integration tests, instead of collaboration. I think we also fell into
this trap, and this misuse has sparked the development of Cucumber Pro.
You _can_ use it for integration tests that describe the expected
behavior. That use doesn't get all of the benefit it could, of course.
And typically without business involvement it devolves into testing
implementation details instead of essential ones.
Post by 'Wayne Owens' via Cukes
More generally, looking at the comments on the aforementioned article,
*there's a perception that few organisations enable business reps to
spend time with Developers and Testers writing Gherkin scenarios.
The business doesn't have to write the scenarios. It's enough if you
have the conversations, and them give them scenarios that are clear
enough that they can say "Yes, that's what I meant" or "No, that's not
what I meant."

I certainly find numerous organizations where business reps spend time
talking with development teams. Often they do so in an undisciplined
manner and don't resolve the differences in understanding, however.

You might find value in Matt Wynne's _Example Mapping_ technique to
structure the conversation for good benefit.
Post by 'Wayne Owens' via Cukes
Presumably most of the people in this Google Group are working at places
where this collaboration is occurring. So, I'm keen to know how this was
achieved and whether not having this level of interaction is a
widespread problem.*
"Cucumber does work in some places, in other places not so well, and in
other places its implementation has been disastrous. I guess the later
is becoming increasingly prevalent judging from this post ... I think
Cucumber and BDD was a great idea that just hasn't worked out ... The
introduction of BDD has confused TDD, which in most cases is what we
need. And if you can sit in a room writing Gherkin for hours, you could
instead sit with a business analyst to discuss the feature just before
implementation."
BDD and TDD are not really distinct things, but I don't want to go into
the history of the terminology. And I've never seen anyone need to write
Gherkin for hours.

I'm trying to express the heuristics I use to decide when to use
business facing specifications and when to use programmer facing ones.
It's not a hard line, and sometimes the choice becomes clearer to me in
retrospect.

I've started a book on the organization of test automation code (that
mirrors a talk I gave at the Agile Alliance Technical Conference last
April, and will give again at Agile Testing Days in December). If you're
interested in that, the book is https://leanpub.com/EvolutionaryAnatomy
and the accompanying codebase is
https://github.com/gdinwiddie/EquineHoroscope The README on github
traces the development of the code and tests. This was written
contemporaneously with the code, and describes some of my thought
processes as I worked on it.
Post by 'Wayne Owens' via Cukes
The latter strikes me as a key point - maybe this is something Cucumber
Pro will address? I'm not confident I'd be able to answer this myself
just by playing round with a demo in isolation. *Is one aim of Cucumber
Pro to still produce a living specification writing in Gherkin, or is
the focus now on Discovery By Example (the term mentioned by Aslak
Hellesøy in the blog)? Is it rare for systems to have a living
specification currently?*
2. *Has there been any move towards on using unstructured natural
language rather than Gherkin for SBE?* The authors of the Autotestbot
tool discuss this option at http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/etd/13937/, but I
can't see any evidence that it's been developed any further.
Tools like Robot Framework and Fitnesse decouple the natural language
from the code, so it can be anything you want. I'm not sure that's an
advantage, in practice.

Gherkin works best if the language is somewhat precise and descriptive.
That's hard to do, even in a pseudo-natural language. I've seen many
programmers who have a hard time being precise and descriptive in
computer languages, much less in natural languages. It takes a bit of
discipline. I've given several variations of a talk on A Poet's Guide to
Test Automation talking about the choice of expression to speak clearly
and succinctly about the behavior that matters to you.
Post by 'Wayne Owens' via Cukes
3. *Is anyone aware of BDD tools that cover ubiquitous language
definition and iterative decomposition of business goals into features,
user stories, and acceptance criteria*, i.e. some of the gaps identified
in http://www.ijcst.com/vol71/1/5-buddharaju-shanmukh-varma.pdf? Again,
perhaps this is something Cucumber Pro will cover.
What gaps do you mean? (I found that article somewhat confusing and
filled with misunderstandings. For example, User Stories are not defined
by the Connextra format, no matter how popular it's become among Scrum
trainers.
Post by 'Wayne Owens' via Cukes
On re-reading my post, it does look like an attempt to get people to
complete a school project for me. Sorry. I'm just genuinely trying to
understand where the industry has got to with SBE, and couldn't find any
useful resources elsewhere.
Thanks,
Wayne
- George
--
----------------------------------------------------------------------
* George Dinwiddie * http://blog.gdinwiddie.com
Software Development http://www.idiacomputing.com
Consultant and Coach http://www.agilemaryland.org
----------------------------------------------------------------------
--
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'Wayne Owens' via Cukes
2016-10-12 16:33:11 UTC
Permalink
Hi George,

Replies inline.

Thanks,

Wayne
Post by George Dinwiddie
Wayne,
Post by 'Wayne Owens' via Cukes
Hello,
In the company at which I work, we've dabbled in using Cucumber over the
last year or so, but it's usage is already dying out as its main
proponents are leaving. This is almost certainly "our" fault, as we
often follow a pattern of half-heartedly adopting the latest approach,
then getting dragged back to our old (failing) ways of working. I've
only tangentially been involved in our use of Cucumber, but having read
the Cucumber Book and Specification By Example about two years ago, I'm
sold on the concept of a living specification, so was disappointed to
see us abandoning this idea. As such, *I've been trying to find out how
other organisations have progressed with SBE. I've not found anything
that conclusive, so I thought I'd ask on here* - not sure if it is the
right forum for such general questions, but it seems pretty active and
is in the right ballpark, so hopefully you'll indulge me. I've tried to
break my questions into three areas.
Who at your company is championing Specification By Example? Who is
disillusioned about it, and why?
Post by 'Wayne Owens' via Cukes
2 of the testers were championing Cucumber (not really SBE). I wouldn't
say anyone is disillusioned with it - it's more that it gained little
traction, so none of the other testers plan to continue using Cucumber.
There was no backing from management or Developers, and it may not have
been sought. When I was asking management about trialling Cucumber, I was
told we were already using SBE (we weren't, we had using Selenium for
automated functional UI tests, which no relation to acceptance criteria),
and I obviously did a poor job of articulating the difference.
Post by George Dinwiddie
Post by 'Wayne Owens' via Cukes
1. Reading
https://cucumber.io/blog/2014/03/03/the-worlds-most-misunder
stood-collaboration-tool,
it appears that there's been some turbulence around using Cucumber for
integration tests, instead of collaboration. I think we also fell into
this trap, and this misuse has sparked the development of Cucumber Pro.
You _can_ use it for integration tests that describe the expected
behavior. That use doesn't get all of the benefit it could, of course. And
typically without business involvement it devolves into testing
implementation details instead of essential ones.
Post by 'Wayne Owens' via Cukes
Yes, I believe that's as far as we got. I got the impression that using
Cucumber in this way was undesirable, as it added unnecessary overhead.
This is only me citing secondhand information from isolated sources, of
course.
Post by George Dinwiddie
Post by 'Wayne Owens' via Cukes
More generally, looking at the comments on the aforementioned article,
*there's a perception that few organisations enable business reps to
spend time with Developers and Testers writing Gherkin scenarios.
The business doesn't have to write the scenarios. It's enough if you have
the conversations, and them give them scenarios that are clear enough that
they can say "Yes, that's what I meant" or "No, that's not what I meant."
I certainly find numerous organizations where business reps spend time
talking with development teams. Often they do so in an undisciplined manner
and don't resolve the differences in understanding, however.
You might find value in Matt Wynne's _Example Mapping_ technique to
structure the conversation for good benefit.
Thank you. I'll check out that technique. The company at which I work
does provide some opportunities for Developers to engage with business
reps, but that's now being filtered via Business Analysts (rightly or
wrongly), and (in line with your experience) tends to be unstructured.
Post by George Dinwiddie
Presumably most of the people in this Google Group are working at places
Post by 'Wayne Owens' via Cukes
where this collaboration is occurring. So, I'm keen to know how this was
achieved and whether not having this level of interaction is a
widespread problem.*
"Cucumber does work in some places, in other places not so well, and in
other places its implementation has been disastrous. I guess the later
is becoming increasingly prevalent judging from this post ... I think
Cucumber and BDD was a great idea that just hasn't worked out ... The
introduction of BDD has confused TDD, which in most cases is what we
need. And if you can sit in a room writing Gherkin for hours, you could
instead sit with a business analyst to discuss the feature just before
implementation."
BDD and TDD are not really distinct things, but I don't want to go into
the history of the terminology. And I've never seen anyone need to write
Gherkin for hours.
I'm trying to express the heuristics I use to decide when to use business
facing specifications and when to use programmer facing ones. It's not a
hard line, and sometimes the choice becomes clearer to me in retrospect.
I've started a book on the organization of test automation code (that
mirrors a talk I gave at the Agile Alliance Technical Conference last
April, and will give again at Agile Testing Days in December). If you're
interested in that, the book is https://leanpub.com/EvolutionaryAnatomy
and the accompanying codebase is https://github.com/gdinwiddie/
EquineHoroscope The README on github traces the development of the code
and tests. This was written contemporaneously with the code, and describes
some of my thought processes as I worked on it.
Interesting. I'll take a look. Best of luck with your book.
Post by 'Wayne Owens' via Cukes
The latter strikes me as a key point - maybe this is something Cucumber
Pro will address? I'm not confident I'd be able to answer this myself
just by playing round with a demo in isolation. *Is one aim of Cucumber
Pro to still produce a living specification writing in Gherkin, or is
the focus now on Discovery By Example (the term mentioned by Aslak
HellesÞy in the blog)? Is it rare for systems to have a living
specification currently?*
2. *Has there been any move towards on using unstructured natural
language rather than Gherkin for SBE?* The authors of the Autotestbot
tool discuss this option at http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/etd/13937/, but I
can't see any evidence that it's been developed any further.
Tools like Robot Framework and Fitnesse decouple the natural language from
the code, so it can be anything you want. I'm not sure that's an advantage,
in practice.
Gherkin works best if the language is somewhat precise and descriptive.
That's hard to do, even in a pseudo-natural language. I've seen many
programmers who have a hard time being precise and descriptive in computer
languages, much less in natural languages. It takes a bit of discipline.
I've given several variations of a talk on A Poet's Guide to Test
Automation talking about the choice of expression to speak clearly and
succinctly about the behavior that matters to you.
Post by 'Wayne Owens' via Cukes
3. *Is anyone aware of BDD tools that cover ubiquitous language
definition and iterative decomposition of business goals into features,
user stories, and acceptance criteria*, i.e. some of the gaps identified
in http://www.ijcst.com/vol71/1/5-buddharaju-shanmukh-varma.pdf? Again,
perhaps this is something Cucumber Pro will cover.
What gaps do you mean? (I found that article somewhat confusing and filled
with misunderstandings. For example, User Stories are not defined by the
Connextra format, no matter how popular it's become among Scrum trainers.
I was referring to the gaps identified by the authors - two of the main
ones seemed to be support for cover ubiquitous language
definition and iterative decomposition. Another post on this thread
indicated there was little need for such a tool.
Post by George Dinwiddie
Post by 'Wayne Owens' via Cukes
On re-reading my post, it does look like an attempt to get people to
complete a school project for me. Sorry. I'm just genuinely trying to
understand where the industry has got to with SBE, and couldn't find any
useful resources elsewhere.
Thanks,
Wayne
- George
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* George Dinwiddie * http://blog.gdinwiddie.com
Software Development http://www.idiacomputing.com
Consultant and Coach http://www.agilemaryland.org
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