I’m writing this on the train back to Leeds from my second TestBash and the first one since I’ve been blogging so I really wanted to write down my thoughts.
TLDR; Fantastic event!
Firstly congratulations to Ministry of Testing (https://www.ministryoftesting.com/) for hosting an excellent event – very well organised with a great line up off speakers. I can only imagine the effort that goes in to putting this event together and it seemed to be a great success from everyone I met and spoke to. Individually you are all very friendly and welcoming as well so that is appreciated.
Software Testing Clinic (TestBash edition)
On the first night I arrived, there was a Software Testing Clinic held in the evening. For those who haven’t been to these before, they are a great way of connecting with other people in the industry, learning new things and contributing to some great discussions. They are also social occasions where you can meet and befriend lots of good people. I was attending on my own, so was a little nervous given the amount of people that would be attending, but there was no need to be. Lots of games were played, plenty was eaten and drunk and I had lots of great conversations – about testing yes, but also about plenty of other subjects!
The next day was the workshop day and there was a selection of workshops to attend which were focused on various different topics. I think the selection was well thought out and involved topics as diverse as “Interviewing for testers”, “Exploratory testing 101” and the two workshops I attended; “Web apps security” and “Communities of practice”.
Prior to the first workshop there was a talk by Dr Vera Gehlen-Baum on learning within testing. Vera has previously spoken at the UN so it was very cool to be able to hear her speak here! The talk was really informative and it was nice to listen to a different subject than you usually here at test conferences. Vera was asked to step in to this slot at late notice which made her talk even more impressive!
After the workshops, there was a second talk, this time by Anusha Nirmalananthan about having a secret at work and the power of revealing and owning the secret. This was a very powerful, emotional and personal talk and I think the whole audience was impressed and moved by Anusha. For me this was the highlight of the weekend and I’d like to thank Anusha for sharing her story with us.
Web apps security
The morning workshop was held by Dan Billing, who is someone I’ve followed for a while and is one of a number of leaders in the field that are workshopping or presenting at this conference. Dan took us through the ways of identifying security threats and risk in web applications and some techniques we can use to test for the presence of these threats in our own applications. I’ve not got too much experience in this area so I found it very useful and informative.
Communities of practice
The afternoon workshop by presented by Emily Webber, who has very much made communities her own within the industry in the last few years. She has an excellent book out on the subject which I would recommend you to read:
Communities of practice are something I have tried often at previous companies and my current place with varying success so it was great to get some tips for setting them up and keeping the momentum going. It was also good to hear from lots of other people experiencing the same issues as myself.
The conference day was a single track day with nine talks, breaks in between and a lunch break halfway through. I’m glad it was a single track because it meant that there were no difficult decisions to make about which talks to attend! All the talks were good, but rather than go through all of them individually I wanted to pick out a few of my highlights, although please don’t take this to mean the others weren’t good as they were all excellent talks and I’m always impressed with people who talk at conferences as it’s not an easy thing to do. The talks I’ve highlighted below simply resonated with me due to my experiences or my current position.
Experiences in Modern Testing – Alan Page
This talk was definitely the most head nodding experience for me this weekend given the fact I agreed with almost everything Alan said! I’ve not encountered Alan before, but I’ve now discovered his podcast, twitter and his blog and I’ve found I agree with him on a lot of things! In fact on his twitter page, his top pinned tweet says this:
“If you want to be a better tester and be an expert in testing, do not even bother learning to write test automation”
If you look further down my blog you’ll see very similar thoughts from myself too (i.e. here) so I’ll be following Alan from now on.
So on to his talk…
It was about the evolution of Lisa Crispin’s Agile Tester in to the “Modern Tester”. The core premise of the modern tester is the idea that a tester on lots of teams these days is a Software Engineer that simply specialises in Testing or Quality. I absolutely see this in my job now and I would say this very accurately describes myself. My current team is the most skilled team I’ve ever worked on and every individual is able to pick up most tasks and stories, but everyone also has their own specialism. Alan is an engaging speaker and he articulated his thoughts very well.
To Boldly Go: Taking the Enterprise on a Journey to Structured Exploratory Testing – Aaron Hodder
Aaron is a very experienced tester and has a great blog which I’d recommend you read. Aaron’s talk was very interesting to me and it made me think of previous experiences I’ve had in places that were not as modern in the way they perform their testing and organise their teams.
He took us through an experience he had with a company who would not change the way they worked with regards to testing and showed us the systematic steps he took to add some structure to their testing. I thought it was a very realistic scenario and one that is very common. Aaron’s solutions were a great example of making the best of a situation and making small consistent improvements. The end result wasn’t something Aaron would recommend if you had a blank slate but very few companies have that – especially if you work as a consultancy and the company is your client, as was the case here.
I also managed to meet Aaron and have a chat afterwards and it was a pleasure to do so!
As mentioned all the talks were great and I’d highly encourage you to watch them all and seek out the people who performed them. They are all leaders in the field and great people to learn from. I’m lucky enough to have met most, if not all of them as well and have always enjoyed the experience. The line up can be found on the Ministry of Testing site here:
And by signing up to their dojo, you are able to get the videos from this and many other events, so it’s worth a look.
99 second talks
The day ended with about 15 99 second talks on an amazing variety of subjects. Highlights for me were The Artful Tester talking about how to treat people and Ali Hill with a Choose Life monologue!
I had a great time at Test Bash and will be looking to go to more in the future. I’ll be looking to present at future ones too so hopefully I can maintain the high bar I’ve seen here!
Thanks to all those who presented, everyone who organised the events (especially the volunteers) and to all those I met and talked to. Special mentions to Anja, Ugne, Matt and Martyn – it was great to meet you and Anja and Matt – I hope your weddings are brilliant!
Oh and one final thing…if anyone has a Testing job going in the London area, then you couldn’t do much better than getting in touch with this woman…