What is Gherkin Language: A to Z You Need To Know

What Is Gherkin Language?

Gherkin is a domain oriented language which is specifically designed to create documentation and automated tests for projects. 

To understand in simple terms what is gherkin language, it is basically a common interactive language in between the business and the IT team working behind a particular project.

What Is The Actual Use Of Gherkin Language?

Before we dive deeper into what is Gherkin language, we first need to understand what exactly a programming language does in various domains of projects. By different domains, it is meant as the different stages associated with a project like the clients, the developer, the tester, the implementer, the business analyst, etc.

Before everything, we should focus on the issues a developmental project faces and how those can be assorted. Meanwhile discussing all of it, we will get to know why a common programming language is very useful in the course of this work.

Let’s assume you are a team member of a company comprising of developers and implementers or testers and you need to work with another team or the business team comprising of the business owner obviously and also the business analyst.

Here you have to come up with a solid plan of the project which you and your development team members will create or develop and implement or put into rational usage and the team comprising of the testers will test its functionality. You will also have the responsibility of making search options on the website you will be developing in order to make your company's targeted audience able to search for the products they require from the company.

Here, you might raise the question that why the business team is given such vague responsibilities whereas the development team has got so many heavy responsibilities.

The business team will mostly look after the issues related to the functioning abilities of the website, searching procedures of products on the website, and how the website functions when the clients search for a particular product.

These requirements from the business team seem very inaccurate in terms of what the development team requires to do. But their work consists of a vast array of specific work like checking what the website will display if the viewer typed some vague thing or an invalid product to be specific or what are the maximum numbers of alphabet or words a viewer can type while searching for a product.

Majority of the times when a question like what will the search results display if the viewer searches for an invalid product to the business then the answers mostly come that the website will show “No products found”.

This answer is again very vague and will give rise to numerous other confusion among the team itself. Like one team member might consider that an invalid product here means the one which the company is not offering whereas other team members might think the invalid product is displayed because of a spelling mistake done by the customer.

In this situation, other questions arise like whether the website will provide similar products like what the customer is searching for or will there be options for the customer to change their search results further.

These will happen as errors are introduced into the system, the business team might consider the option of presenting similar options to the search results when the website shows "No product found" but at the moment they do not know what to answer for this query.

These mostly happen because the business team and the developer team works on two different stages. The developer team is working towards bringing precision in work, whereas the business team has got a lot of vague issues. Also, the meaning of "No product found" here has got multiple meanings for different team members which is again giving rise to an ambiguous situation.

Now, what exactly should these two teams do in order to achieve perfection in the work?

First and foremost, the business team should consider taking steps towards bringing accuracy in their work. Such as considering presenting some modifications in the searching procedure. While a customer searches for a product the search results generally show the products which are relatable to what the customer is typing without making any mistakes where what they can do to bring more precision is that the search results can show the exact products first considering what the customer is typing followed by the products which are similar to the searched product.

So from here, we get the idea of how ambiguity is hampering a whole user experience due to the incapability of business teams. This is encouraging business teams to come up with better approaches to bring more precision their work and hence make a project perfect ultimately.

What is learned from the above explanation?

There has to be a common language which will convey the requirements and the procedures and will be understood by both the team members easily. It should be able to convey the ambiguity in the system by the business team so that the developer team can take care of it and assort them in order to get a perfect outcome.

This language should let the ideas of the teams flow. As more and more questions arise, they should be able to bring more precision in their work, so the final result is devoid of any complication.

To solve all of these queries, the Gherkin language was finally created. Knowing what is Gherkin language and what a significant role it possesses in the business sector in current days is really important. 

It is an easily understandable language which is efficiently used in conveying requirements and queries easily. Gherkin language is available in common languages like French, English, and other 30 more types as well.

Now the question must come up as to what is Gherkin language? It is a domain-oriented language that is used in depicting the business specifications and complications without indulging into deeper situations or rather going into the roots of these complications.

What is Gherkin language doing, is basically enabling us to write scripts in 37 plus languages and also enables you to generate writing automated tests (BDD).

Gherkin language has been easing out all the pain of testing and building for business analysts to a huge extent. What is Gherkin language doing is enabling business analysts to record tests in a certain language which developers, business as well as QA can understand. This helps in closing the gap that was created in communication among the team members and helped in bringing out the best possible outcomes in the end.

Gherkin language also connects automated tests with acceptance tests. In a project, if the business analyst changes the acceptance test, the previously made cucumber test of the developer also fails, and it starts giving an indication of the collapsing. 

This whole process enables the business analysts and the developers to communicate better and create something that is perfectly synchronizing as well, and the end results are of top-notch quality.

People working for a project will not belong to the same group. All of them will not have an understanding of the languages used in the process; hence, the utilization knowing what is Gherkin language is really important.  It is something which both the development team will be understanding as well as the business team will have proper knowledge about.

What Is Gherkin Language In Testing

Gherkin language works under the influence of certain keywords. A person who plans to write tests in the language first needs to have a piece of good knowledge in the keywords of Gherkin language.

Some of the main keywords depicting what is Gherkin language are:

  •     Feature.
  •     Rule
  •     Example.
  •     Given, when, then, and, but.
  •     Background.
  •     Scenario outline.

So what is Gherkin language keyword?

To write a proper test by knowing what is Gherkin language, these are the keywords one need to know about how they work, and all their aspects also need to be understood thoroughly.


This keyword is put at the beginning of the description; the gherkin document starts with the keyword Feature basically. The description here depicts what the software needs to do and how it should initiate. The Feature keyword can also be used to depict a group of scenarios.

This does not play any quintessential role in the testing procedure instead enables you to add on documentation or instructions to the list of business rules. The description portion will end when you start writing from a different line, starting with a different keyword like example or scenario outline.


You can write descriptions under any of the above-mentioned keywords, but that line should not start with any of the keywords for sure.


This keyword is used when you need to include any important business rule what should be strictly followed or included in the system. The ruling feature in Gherkin language should possess more than one scenarios.

Gherkin Steps


Given keyword is what set the scene or functionality of scenarios. Given keyword gives an idea of the past story about the user interaction. It makes the system aware of the previous encounters.


When represents mostly steps which ask the system to do some action, it represents an event which is mostly triggered by the user interface or by another event. It is always better to have the only one when to step for a particular scenario.


This is the outcome situation. A Then keyword is used to make the system knows what you want it to do and as a result, and that can be compared to how the software performs in general as well. This keyword can be used as a representation of a result of a message.

And, But

And or But are basically the keywords which make your documentation in Gherkin language easier. If you have written a series of documentations or rules or commends, then utilizing either of these keywords will keep the representation sorted and understandable as well.


Backgrounds are addition or allow you to add multiple contexts to your scenarios. 

What Is Gherkin Language Scenario?

Let’s dig into how you can create Gherkin language scenarios:

  1. From the project, the settings panel makes the BDD option activated first. On doing this, you will be able to compose scenarios utilizing Gherkin syntax smoothly.
  2. Next, go to the scenario section and add features to it. A scenario is basically a collection of features and nothing else.
  3. Next, you will have to compose a scenario using given, when, or then syntaxes.
  4. Next, keep adding examples and utilize the scenario outline. Scenario outline basically makes the work effortless by enabling the user to express these examples via parameters and databases.

Gherkin Language And Cucumber

Cucumber is a testing tool that helps in executing test scripts that are already defined in the feature file or require to be covered. How is actually associated with Cucumber?

Gherkin is basically a simple language that instructs Cucumber to execute and interpret these scripts made for the system.

You must be thinking that Cucumber already uses simple English language then why do we need something separately like Gherkin? 

Well, the answer basically is associated with the concept of Behavior Driven Development or BDD.

Behavior Driven Development or BDD creates different types of test scripts that can be associated with the business analysis team or the development team or the testing team as well. 

Specialists of different levels and working for different teams will be needed for the completion of a particular project. All of these people might not be familiar with the language the other person is using to depict their work. 

Hence a common language is needed dot cancel out this difficulty in communication, that common language is basically what is Gherkin language.

Gherkin consists of innumerable sets of keywords that people belonging to different teams of specialty can utilize to get the same output and also to cancel out the possibilities of creating mistakes as well.

Cucumber works through a simple set of procedures. The user first describes the behavior through the keywords then the steps or instructions or the features are written down. After that, the instructions are made to run or tested and fail. Next new codes are written to make the whole set of steps pass through. Ultimately it is run, and the results are obtained finally.

Cucumber basically reads and understands the code written in basic English or in a familiar language what is Gherkin language incorporated into the feature file. Next, it tries to find a match for each and every step from the descriptions provided. Cucumber's one of the biggest advantages is that it supports multiple sorts of software platforms like:

  •     Ruby on Rails
  •     Selenium.
  •     PicoContainer.
  •     Spring Framework
  •     Watir

 Major advantages of Cucumber:

  •     It supports languages like Java and Ruby.
  •     It seamlessly joins the technical group with the business group.
  •     One can write test scripts using Cucumber without having any knowledge of coding at all.
  •     Code reusability is possible with Cucumber.

 Gherkin Language and Selenium

Selenium is basically a testing tool that is used to verify the functionality of web browsers. Using Selenium is again quite easier, and a person without any knowledge of basic coding can also utilize it to do web browser testing.

On making a comparison between selenium and gherkin, these are the following things found:

  •     Selenium is basically a software testing tool, whereas Gherkin is not so. It is a testing language
  •     Selenium is mostly written in JAVA whereas Gherkin is written in Ruby programming language.
  •     Selenium is basically an automation tool whereas Gherkin is clearly not.
  •     Management teams are not comfortable in reading and understanding Selenium scripts; on the other hand, Gherkin language is very easy for the management team to figure out.
  •     Selenium is quite difficult in installing; on the other hand, no such complications arise with Gherkin.
  •     Selenium’s capability of executing test scripts is accurate and quick. On the other hand, Gherkin's performance in this sector is quite slow.
  •     Selenium scripts are often very complicated to create and execute as well; on the other hand, there is no such complication with Gherkin at all

Gherkin Language Acceptance Criteria

Acceptance criteria are the needs of the user which the software is required to fulfill to basically pass the acceptance criteria and become useful to the user. An acceptance criterion is a very conceptual matter, it will vary from user to user, and each acceptance criteria will be different from the other as well.

The acceptance criteria is basically written via the keywords what is Gherkin language assigned with. Hence the fitting of gherkin into BDD becomes quite suspicious.

Now let’s focus on how Gherkin actually fits with BDD.

As a portion of BDD, the user will create a test, but this test will never run successfully and will evidently fail because the user or developer has not written the code yet. This proves that each step has automated test coverage.

Given acts as the previous stage where the developer has not yet assigned any work to the system. When depicts the action the developer takes. Then represents the outcomes the system shows after the action is taken. In every case, this should be the language or case done by the business team or the business analyst team. 

So all in all Gherkin language has got five main statements for the acceptance criteria:

  1. Scenario- a justification for what the user needs the system to do.’
  2. Given- the initiation of the assigned scenario.
  3. When- the accurate action was taken by the user.
  4. Then- basically the outcome of what the user has assigned in “When” is Then.
  5. And- this is just the continuation of any of the other three operators.

The gherkin acceptance criteria are something that the product manager creates even before the team utilizes it or works with it. The acceptance criteria, when written in an easily understandable language, make the whole working procedure for the IT team as well as the business team seamless.

Gherkin For Automation

The acceptance procedure is mainly carried on by the business team or the customers to see whether the development team performed exactly what they were asked to. Cucumber itself is an acceptance tool and is very effective in its work. 

What is basically done in the testing procedure is that the system’s functions are tested in comparison to original data and production.

Cucumber also enables the customers or business analysts to manipulate the test data as well. The language utilized by Cucumber is easily understandable in testing or automation procedure. Also, they can be used again multiple test scenarios hence the possibility of creating new tests and putting time into that is canceled . 

In the testing scenario situation, the user requires to keep altering the r adjusting the test scenarios regularly unless they are reaching an acceptable level, and all the team members can understand it as well.

Gherkin Console

What Is Gherkin API testing

To begin with, we will have to get started with JSON structure for demonstrating the data uploaded to the server by the POST application. We will have to then download the application to the client utilizing a GET. The structure will then be saved in the jsonString field.

A WireMock server now plays the role to exhibit a REST API that is,

WireMockServer wireMockServer = new WireMockServer(options().dynamicP ort())

Additionally, there will be a usage of Apache HttpClient API to represent the client used to connect to the server:

CloseableHttpClient httpClient = HttpClients.createDefault();

Let’s start with writing the testing code within the step definitions. The server ‘wireMockServer.start() ’ should already be running before the client is connecting to it.

Utilizing the WireMock API now to stub the REST service:
configureFor("localhost", wireMockServer.port());
 .withHeader("content-type", equalTo("application/json"))

Subsequently, a POST application is needed to be sent to the content thereby received from the JSON string field being declared already above to the server:

HttpPost request = new HttpPost("http://localhost:" + wireMockServer.port() + "/create");
StringEntity entity = new StringEntity(jsonString);
request.addHeader("content-type", "application/json");
HttpResponse response = httpClient.execute(request);

The following coding asserts that the POST request is being received and handled successfully:

assertEquals(200, response.getStatusLine().getStatusCode());
.withHeader(“content-type”, equalTo(“application/json”)));

Now, the server should be stopped after being utilized:


Gherkin Language And BDD (Behaviour Driven Development)

For behavior-driven development strategies, one can take the help of Eggplant functional. Eggplant functional collaborates or integrates with Gherkin language, which is a simple language running on syntax to define tests. Gherkin language is basically a framework of Cucumber which works towards creating a functional framework in easily understandable language based on a set of keywords mostly.

You can write scripts on Gherkin language via the Eggplant functional suite window. In the Eggplant functional suite window, the left sidebar contains the features pane for Gherkin language.

On the assets section toggle bar at the top, there is a pickle icon that stands for the Gherkin language. This icon enables you to on and off the features pane. The code of what is Gherkin language is stored in the feature film, and the tests assigned by the user are called as features basically, on the other hand, the expected results are disintegrated into scenarios. The user can utilize the SenseTalk handler to initiate the actions the Gherkin steps actually describe.

Even though the Gherkin language code is written in the features the tab, the associated SenseTalk handlers are kept in standard Eggplant functional scripts. When the Gherkin test is run by the user, the Eggplant Functional handles starts creating the associated script to bring the required outcomes. 

To search for any existing Gherkin feature in the system, you can easily search for it by typing the name on the search fields above the scripts made. You can also add search filters to the procedure by choosing the magnifying glass just present by the side of the search field.
Technology is taking over this world. Everything around us is almost influenced by the existence of technology; this is undoubtedly making every procedure very effortless for us, just like the usage of Gherkin language in the process of business analysis. 

What is Gherkin language all about might sound very appealing to business teams but utilizing it to get the desired results also comes with multiple terms and conditions. If the team or the company falls under fulfilling all those criteria. 

Then utilizing Gherkin language will undoubtedly bring fruitful results in terms of communicating with the technical or IT team and create a seamless solution.

 Advantages Of Gherkin Language

One of the biggest advantages of using Gherkin language is definitely that it is understandable by all the team members working in the project. 

It is filling up the void creating a bridge in between the business analyst and testing team and the developing team as well. This makes the whole process of working extremely easier, and the end results are seamless as well.

All in all, What is Gherkin language is encouraging is a better relationship between the IT department and the business department in order to full the business goals.

There is no language barrier; one can write tests in more than thirty languages seamlessly.

It is extremely easy to trace tests via Gherkin language; this is because the test cases and the requirements become the same.

Gherkin language is easy for any layman to understand what functionalities are being tested and what the results are coming up.

With Gherkin language, the developmental process becomes very smooth; each scenario here becomes focused onto one thing only. Scenarios are acceptance, testing, finding out flaws, and everything here comes under one solution; there is no need for noting down anything separately.

Ambiguities are solves in simple languages while using Gherkin language. There is no scene of unknown language or jargon, which will complicate the whole situation or business analysts. All in all, it provides clarity in the whole process of testing.

The Gherkin language command set is not complicated; hence, teams of any level can easily understand it.

What is Gherkin language doing is easily targeting the business requirements in order to produce a perfect end result?

It helps in linking acceptance tests to automated tests easily, which was not possible earlier.

A major portion of the functional properties What is Gherkin language possessing is written in user stories.

Disadvantages Of Gherkin Language

By now you must be thinking how a language with so many major benefits can even possess disadvantages?

Knowing what is Gherkin language might sound quite useful for the business analysis team; it can sometimes become useless because it does not work on all scenarios of work.

The point of using and knowing What is Gherkin language is to achieve perfection in the business associated work, but it only works when the amount of collaboration and business engagement is really high. For small scale work, it will make no sense of using and gaining knowledge on what is Gherkin language.

While using gherkin if a test is poorly written and is not quite understandable, the test maintenance cost is easily increased in such cases. This is something which majority of the teams do not plan to afford on a day to day basis.

When it comes to the disadvantages of Cucumber, there are also plenty in number.

Gherkin language is what creates the framework of Cucumber, but this language is responsible for breaking text editors. The syntaxes of what is Gherkin language responsible for breaking text editors. 

The steps often contain white spaces, parameters included in non-standard locations and a lot of other ambiguities which text editors are not being able to rectify this leads into the breaking of many features like auto-complete, search etc. ultimately hampering the final product.

 Cucumber is quite demanding when it comes to issuing a second testing environment.

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Grzegorz Kłos
Grzegorz Kłos - Apphawks Co-founder
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