Editing Features

The Visual Studio integration includes the following features to make it easier to edit feature files and identify which steps have already been bound.

Gherkin Syntax Highlighting

Various default styles have been defined for the Gherkin syntax. You can customise these colours in Visual Studio’s settings (Tools | Options | Environment | Fonts and Colors). The names of the corresponding Display items in the list begin with “Gherkin”.

In addition to highlighting keywords, comments, tags etc., unbound steps and parameters in feature files are highlighted when editing the file in Visual Studio. The following syntax highlighting is used by default:

  • Purple: unbound steps
  • Black: bound steps
  • Grey italics: parameters in bound steps

You can thus tell immediately which steps in a feature file have been bound.

IntelliSense (auto-completion) for Keywords and Steps

IntelliSense makes SpecFlow easy to use when integrated with Visual Studio. IntelliSense uses find-as-you-type to restrict the list of suggested entries.

Gherkin Files

IntelliSense is available in feature files for the following:

  • Gherkin keywords (e.g. Scenario, Given etc.)
  • Existing steps are listed after a Given, When or Then statement, providing quick access to your current steps definitions. Bound steps are indicated with “–>”. Note that all the steps in all “*.feature” files that match the current type (Given, When, Then) are displayed:

Specflow Integrated with Visual Studio and IntelliSense

The IntelliSense suggestions (red rectangle) for the Given step include the two existing Given steps in “GetProducts.feature” and “AddProducts.feature”. Step definition methods have been defined for these steps; the entries in the list contain “–>” to indicate that the step has been bound.

Code Files

IntelliSense is also available for the Gherkin keywords in your code files.

IntelliSense settings

As much as having a suggested list of previous entries could speed up your work, the list may become too long in a big project and not really usable. To fix this problem, SpecFlow gives you the option to limit the number of IntelliSense step instances suggestions for each step template.

To do this, simply navigate to Tools | Options | SpecFlow | General | IntelliSense and set the desired number of suggestions you wish to see against the Max Step Instances Suggestions value:


> Note: Setting this value to 0 will only show the template.

Outlining and Comments in Feature Files

Most of the items in the Edit menu work well with SpecFlow feature files, for example:

  • You can comment and uncomment selected lines (’#’ character) with the default shortcut for comments (Ctrl+K Ctrl+C/Ctrl+K Ctrl+U) or from the menu
  • You can use the options in the Edit | Outlining menu to expand and contract sections of your feature files
    VS2010 Edit menu

(click image for full size)

Table Formatting

Tables in SpecFlow are also expanded and formatted automatically as you enter column names and values:

Formatted table
(click image for full size)

Document Formatting

Document formatting is also available. It automatically re-indents code and fixes blank lines, comments, etc.

You can find this option under Edit->Advanced->Format document or alternatively use the Ctrl+K, Ctrl+D shortcut:

Format document

Below is a feature file document which is not indented correctly:

Unformatted document

After the Format Document command:

Formatted document

Renaming Steps

You can globally rename steps and update the associated bindings automatically. To do so:

  1. Open the feature file containing the step.
  2. Right-click on the step you want to rename and select Rename from the context menu.
  3. Enter the new text for the step in the dialog and confirm with OK.
  4. Your bindings and all feature files containing the step are updated.

Note: If the rename function is not affecting your feature files, you may need to restart Visual Studio to flush the cache.