Tea-driven development 🫖

Relish

Back in 2010, David Chelimsky was re-writing RSpec, and had the idea to use Cucumber scenarios to drive the development. The RSpec website was not much at the time, and David’s intention was to generate user documentation automatically from those scenarios.

I was invested in the Cucumber open source project as a core team member, working as an independent consultant, and just starting to think about how we might be able to build revenue-generating tools around it.

So, together with an RSpec team member Justin Ko, I started work on Relish. Over time, Justin drifted away from the project, and my friend John Hardcastle got involved to help with the UX.

For a while, I was really into it. The service was growing, we had users who wanted to install it on-prem, and there was an active UserVoice forum (remember them?!) where people left their feedback on what else it should do.

In 2013 I started Cucumber Ltd with Aslak Hellesøy and Julien Biezmans, and Relish became part of the IP of that company. We did some lightweight maintenance on it, but our attention became focused elsewhere on building shiny new things – a collaborative editor for Gherkin based on CRDT, which we called Cucumber Pro – and building the training business that was bringing in the money.

To my frustration, each new iteration where we’ve tried to build a commercial tool for BDD practitioners (Cucumber Pro, Jam, CucumberStudio, Cucumber Reports) has never matched up to Relish for the basic use-case of publishing read-only documentation. We never quite got there before the project was shelved and we moved on to the next thing. So the RSpec project have remained its most loyal and biggest users.

Fast-forward twelve years, and the https://relishapp.com/rspec pages are still visited by hundreds of Ruby programmers every day.

Relish's IP and hosting is now owned by SmartBear, who acquired Cucumber Ltd in 2019.

Mostly, Relish has “just worked” and hasn’t caused us too many problems. There has been the occasional glitch that needed a touch of heroku run rails console but we’ve mostly been able to get away with paying it very little attention.

Until this week.

Unfortunately, I’m no longer in a position to be able to help. We have started some early conversations with SmartBear about releasing the IP for Cucumber, which I assume would include Relish’s codebase, but it’s early days.

My hope would be that we can open-source the code for Relish (in retrospect I wish we’d done this ages ago), find some sponsors for the hosting, and let it continue to serve as a platform for the RSpec team. At the very least they could salvage the rendering code to generate their own static documentation.

For the time being though, I’m afraid we’re a bit stuck.