Cucumber-jvm 3 migration of PARAMETER conversion from version 2


XStream in Java Cucumber implementation is dead. No more trying to decide whether to extend AbstractSingleValueConverter or implement Converter. This has been replaced by the concept of ParameterType and DataTableType.

For the official announcement mentioning other goodies, wander to this link

For the release notes navigate to and scroll down to the 3.0.0-SNAPSHOT section. In this check out point 2 where annotations like @Delimiter, @Format, @Transformer,@XStreamConverter, @XStreamConverters are laid to rest. These must be replaced by a DataTableType or ParameterType.

For details on Cucumber Expressions which have been introduced to work alongside Regular Expressions refer to this

Source Code

Have tried to add the relevant code portions in the article. For bigger source code will point to the relevant link.

Refer to cuke2-parameter-datatable link for Cucumber 2. Scenarios are contained in parameter.feature. Step Definition in

Refer to cuke3-migrate-parametertype link for Cucumber 3. Scenarios are contained in parametertype.feature. Step Definition code in Parameter registration code in


What is ParameterType? – This contains all the mapping details and the transformation code for converting a string variable into a desired object. Let us look at Cucumber 2 code –

Given the user name is John Doe  

@Given("^the user name is (.*?)$")
public void theUserNameIs(User user) {
	//XStream automatically converts name into a User object using
        the single argument string constructor

public class User {
	private String name;	
	public User(String name) { = name;
//Getter setter methods

Now if we use this same piece of code in Cucumber 3 we will get an error similar to this.

cucumber.runtime.CucumberException: Failed to invoke ………………., caused by 
java.lang.IllegalArgumentException: argument type mismatch

If we then use Cucumber Expression for the step definition pattern as below.

Let me guess, you are having buyers remorse and want XStream back. No worries. All that the error is saying, Cucumber needs some idea of how to convert from string to the object. And this will need to be registered.

Let us look at Cucumber 3 code by adding a ParameterType for conversion. The User dataobject remains the same.

@Given("the user name is {user}")
public void theUserNameIs(User user) {}

public class Configurer implements TypeRegistryConfigurer {
	public void configureTypeRegistry(TypeRegistry registry) {
		registry.defineParameterType(new ParameterType<>("user", ".*?", 
                User.class, User::new));
	public Locale locale() {
		return Locale.ENGLISH;

It is very important that the class Configurer needs to be placed inside the package structure mentioned in the glue option given inside @CucumberOptions. Registration of all ParameterType and DataTableType will happen inside the configureTypeRegistry method.

Let us look at ParameterType constructor in more detail.

"user",     -> Maps to the pattern mentioned in the stepdefinition expression {user}
".*?",      -> Regular expression for matching
User.class, -> Desired object class
User::new)  -> Transformation code, kind of similar to what is written in unmarshal() of custom XStream converter

This will output the same result as in the earlier cucumber versions.

With the ParameterType know how we can look at migrating from annotations like Delimiter, Format and Transform.

Migrating from Delimiter annotation

This was a convenient way to convert a delimited string into a list of strings or objects in Cucumber 2.

Given the user names are jane,john,colin,alice

@Given("^the user names are (.*?)$")
public void theUserNamesAre (@Delimiter(",") List<String> names) {
	//Get a list of Strings

@Given("^the users are (.*?)$")
public void theUserAre (@Delimiter(",") List<User> profs) {
	//Get a list of User objects. Any object with a single String argument 
	//constructor will be automatically converted by XStream.

In Cucumber 3, we need to register a ParameterType which maps to ‘names'(from the stepdefinition method expression in Given annotation), takes a regular expression like ‘.*?’, returns a List and a transformation method to return the same.

@Given("the user names are {names}")
public void givenUser(List<String> names) {
	//Returns a List of String

	new ParameterType<>("names", ".*?", List.class, (String s) -> 

In case, we need to get a List of objects, say of a User, we can add the code in the transformation method. Simply register a new ParameterType which maps to {users}

@Given("the users are {users}")
public void givenProf(List<User> names) {
	//Returns a List of User

	new ParameterType<>("users", ".*?", List.class, 
		(String s) -> Arrays.asList(s.split(",")).stream().

Migrating from Format annotation

This gave Cucumber 2 a hint about how to transform a String into an object such as a Date or a Calendar.

Given the date is 2012-03-01T06:54:12

@Given("^the date is (\\d{4}-\\d{2}-\\d{2}T\\d{2}:\\d{2}:\\d{2})$")
public void the_date_is(@Format("yyyy-MM-dd'T'HH:mm:ss") Date date) {
	//Returns a java.util.Date object

In Cucumber 3, we need to register a ParameterType which maps to ‘names’, takes a regular expression like ‘.*?’, returns a java.time.LocalDateTime and a transformation method to return the same.

@Given("the date is {date_iso_local_date_time}")
public void the_date_is(LocalDateTime date) {
	//Return a java.time.LocalDateTime object

registry.defineParameterType(new ParameterType<>("date_iso_local_date_time", 
        // 2011-12-03T10:15:30
	"\\d{4}-\\d{2}-\\d{2}T\\d{2}:\\d{2}:\\d{2}", LocalDateTime.class,
		(String s) -> LocalDateTime.parse(s)));

Migrating from Transformer annotation

Have a look at the first example of converting the string in the feature file to a User object. If there is a single argument constructor which takes a String, then XStream converts it automatically. All we need to do is add the parsing code to the specific constructor.

What happens when we do not have a single argument constructor or we do not have access to it? The way out is to use the Transformer annotation in the stepdefinition method.

Refer to FullNameTransformer and FullName dataobject for relevant code.

Given the name is 'John Mich Arthur Doe'

@Given("^the name is (.*?)$")
public void theAmountIs(@Transform(FullNameTransformer.class) FullName name) {
        //Get this output - FullName [firstName=John, title=Doe, middleName=Mich Arthur]

In Cucumber 3, we just need to declare a ParameterType to hold this logic of converting string to a FullName object. The parsing and object creation code that was in the transformer moves to the ParameterType constructor. Or even move it to a class and refer to it by method reference.

@Given("the name is {fullname}")
public void theColorIs(FullName fullName) {
	//Returns the FullName object

	new ParameterType<>("fullname", ".*?", FullName.class, 

Refer to FullName dataobject.

What happens in the case of an enum? In Cucumber 2, XStream will automatically convert it into the desired enum. In Cucumber 3 a ParameterType has to be defined for this conversion.

public enum ProfLevels {  ASSISTANT, ASSOCIATE, PROFESSOR  }

Given the professor level is Associate

@Given("the professor level is {level}")
public void theProfessorLevelIs(ProfLevels level) {
	//Returns the ProfLevel enum

registry.defineParameterType(new ParameterType<>("level", ".*?", ProfLevels.class,
		(String s) -> ProfLevels.valueOf(s.toUpperCase())));

Migrating from XStream conversion

For the case similar to the situation in which a Transform annotation is used, one can also provide a custom XStream converter.

Given the professor is John Doe

public class Professor {
	private String profName;
	public static Professor parseProfessor(String name) {
		Professor prof = new Professor();
		return prof;

public class ProfessorXStreamConverter extends AbstractSingleValueConverter {
	public boolean canConvert(Class cls) {
		return Professor.class.isAssignableFrom(cls);
	public Object fromString(String inputName) {			
		return Professor.parseProfessor(inputName);

We need to inform Cucumber how to find this converter by using the @XStreamConverter or @XStreamConverters annotation. Declare using the singular version on the Professor class.

@XStreamConverter(value = ProfessorXStreamConverter.class)
public class Professor {

Or a global declaration placed on the runner class. In this you can have 
multiple converter declarations.
		@XStreamConverter(value = ProfessorXStreamConverter.class)
		//,@XStreamConverter(value = OtherXStreamConverter.class)  
                //Additional converters.

In Cucumber 3, the migration technique is similar to that for the Transform annotation, by declaring a new ParameterType.

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