The Agile Testing Days 2014: Conference Day 1

If you’ve read my previous post about the tutorial day, you may wonder why there’s another ‘Day 1’. — Well, the official conference program mentions the 11th of November as the 1st day, so I stick with that.

For me the day started with a Lean Coffee, a format where people meet, gather topics everyone can bring, vote on these topics and then discuss the topics based on that voting (see the link to the site for more information). I like this format, because it allows to get to introduce a topic and discuss it without spending much time. That way one can see whether at least some other people are interested in a particular topic.

Afterwards, Lisa Crispin & Janet Gregory gave the inspiring first keynote, titled “WELCOME TO THE FUTURE – Preparing For Your Agile Testing Journeys”. They presented their view of how software testing may be in the future and also shared the slides. I liked the Star Trek theme presentation, which also nicely matched the topic.

Next, I attended George Dinwiddie‘s talk “A Poet’s Guide To Automated Testing”. He demonstrated how important a good choice of words is, when writing automated tests. By questioning every single word in a rather typical test, he showed how the tests can be improved. For example a typical test often reads: “When I log in to the system…”.

Who is the ‘I’ mentioned in that line? A customer? A system administrator? The ‘I’ who wrote the test, whatever his or her role was? — After a while, sometimes a rather short while, this knowledge gets lost. So it’s usually better to make this knowledge explicit in the automated test.

The following presentation by Carlos Sanchez was titled “Continuous Delivery, the Next Frontier”. I found it very interesting to see him talking about Docker a lot. Also interesting was so see that, while many people know about Docker and also use it, not many people do use it in a production environment, at least none of the people attending the talk.

Also he provided a funny explanation about where Docker works:

In the the early afternoon I attended Jeff “Cheezy” Morgan‘s workshop “Patterns of Automation”. There was an enormous amount of interest in the workshop and the room filled up quickly. He gave a good number of patterns and even (successfully!) live coded his examples. Super interesting, entertaining and funny!

At the end of the conference part of the day Bob “The Flowchain Sensei” Marshall gave his keynote “The Antimatter Principle” (explained on his blog), a very inspiring, thought-provoking and slideless presentation.

The conference day ended with the now traditional Halloween and costume party, excellent food, super interesting conversations and Matt Heusser receiving the “Most Influential Agile Testing Professional Person” award. Congratulations!

A Year of ‘Explore’

At the end of last year, I decided I would not make any new year’s resolutions in favour of selecting a ‘word of the year’, see the blog post from early 2013. I picked the word ‘explore for 2013 and since the year is (nearly) over, it’s time to look back and see how it worked out.

The Black Box Software Testing Courses

At the time of this writing there are four BBST (Black Box Software Testing) courses the Association for Software Testing offers:

  1. Foundations
  2. Test Design
  3. Bug Advocacy
  4. Instructors

I took the first three of them in the first half of 2013, and the last one in October. And while I do recommend taking these courses, I have to say that I needed a good amount of time to work through all the material, labs & exercises. Especially the ‘Test Design’ course offered a phenomenal amount of material.

I totally recommend these courses to everyone working in software testing and software development in general.

Conferences

For a while now, I try to go to two conferences each year, a programmer conference as well as a tester conference. I used to recommend this to my fellow ‘programming tester colleagues’, but now I’ve also started to recommend it to the ‘testing programmers’ as well. While I focus on software testing, I find it useful to know a bit about programming, too.

I hoped to be able to go to the EuRuKo (European Ruby Conference) in Athens, Greece in summer. In the end it didn’t work out as planned and I couldn’t go. However, I gave my ticket away and received two post cards in return. Thank you, you know who you are.

In September I attended the BARUCO, the ‘Barcelona Ruby Conference’ in Spain, and in October I went to the Agile Testing Days in Potsdam, Germany. At both conferences I gave short presentations about testing and the two values of software. Furthermore, at the Agile Testing Days I had the pleasure to assist Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory at the  beginning of their keynote presentation:

A remark: The BBST Instructors course and the Agile Testing Days overlapped a bit. If you can, I suggest to avoid a commitment like that. Although it did work for me (in the end), this is a way of exploring, I’ll avoid in the future.

Projects

Early this year, I wanted to try some rather short software testing projects and joined uTest (now renamed to be Applause), where I worked on several apps for mobile devices as well as OS X. Given my background with longer running projects, having just a few days for testing was a refreshing experience. I also joined a project using Calabash to automate testing (well, checking actually) on Android devices.

In late June I joined a new longer running project using a whole bunch of technologies I’ve heard about before, but which were new to me – Another way to explore! So now I work in a project using MongoDB, VarnishPuppet and Vagrant. All of them are really interesting technologies, and the team doesn’t stop there: Every now and then we take a day to, well, explore new ways that may improve our work.

Summary

It’s been a very exciting and busy year and I am convinced that picking a ‘word of the year’ instead of making new year’s resolutions made a big difference. Instead of a plan, I felt I had some guidance that helped in deciding what to do (and what not to do in some cases). I will pick a word of the year for 2014 as well and if you also pick one, or if you already had one for 2013, why not write a short comment whether (or not) it helped you and in which way?

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