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Learnings from Agile testing days 2012

I was at Agile testing days in Potsdam as a speaker. The conference is quite a nice experience as a speaker. I don’t know the numbers, but I think it was about 500-600 people there and around 80 speakers I think. Small enough to be able to speak to most of the people that you want to speak to, as well as big enough to give the touch of diversity of people.

Most of the sessions I attended I tried to note down important stuff into mind maps. Although with highly varied results because of the contexts of my awareness and concentration during the session. (Here is an example through my live blogging from Pete Walens session). Its really is hard to maintain the discipline of good documentation as you go throughout a very long time. This is actually one of my pinpoints in my presentation; having people that are not used to test documentation to actually record the exploration done throughout sessions. And the fact that I am having troubles with it myself during a conference hints that it might not be so easy. Here are some highlights:

The keynotes

The conference has a high density of keynotes, with 3 per day. It is good in a sense that they are of high level and well delivered. They also gave lots of food for thoughts and conversation. Although, they also take time from the actual content of track sessions, where I actually think most content that is actionable for attendees is found. The content of the 6 keynotes was very good, and did not really overlap much, even though the theme of agile testing was kept throughout them. Scott Ambler delivered the opening keynote, where he one too many times talked about “…in the real world” which fueled a twitter discussion about “unicorn world”. Unicorn theme was adopted by Gojko Adzic urging all speakers to add unicorns in their presentations. Agile Testing Days 2012 even officially embraced the unicorn theme, which was a highlight of the conference. Overall, the keynotes made a good foundation for the conference, also limiting the times where I needed to choose between awesome sessions.

The many flavors and toppings of exploratory testing – Gitte Ottosen

The evening before at speakers dinner I had talked to Gitte about her presentation and realized that she is using very similar approaches as me in tailoring exploratory testing to fit different project contexts. The really cool parts of these stories include exploratory testing approaches done on software requiring CMMI level 5 for the US military and how she copes with that. The different flavors in her talk was freestyle, session based, testing tours, bug hunts and the general functionality and stability test procedure (Microsoft). Find her slides here. Since I want to know much much more on her experiences with this, she is on my follow-up list.

Coding dojos – Meike Mertsch and Sebastian Keller

This discussion on how technical testers should be is quite irrelevant, but relevant at the same time. I have switched my perception of it the last year. It is a whole book for itself, but I would actually like to say that the conclusion I see for it got me to attend this coding dojo. The project context demands what level of technicality is required by all team members, including testers. In some cases you are better off testing a fully prepared test environment where someone else does deployments, while in others the best setup includes building your own artifacts from source including running the automatic checks you wrote for it. I want to learn about the latter, which is why I took the opportunity to attend.

Meike and Sebastian introduced the concept of coding dojos and then introduced us to the stack kata we were working on. Working in pairs doing TDD creating a simple stack application we started from scratch working through some small unit tests and implementation of the app. We did not get very far with the actual product, but we still got very good discussions regarding the level of tests and the TDD workflow. I thought it was a nice setting and actually got enough comfortable in the situation that I also did some coding in front of audience. That was a big step out of my comfort zone when considering the audience, half of the people being developers/programmers.

TDD-ing Javascript Front ends – Pat Kua

I considered this being a continuation of the coding dojo from the day before, as well as continuing to learn more about web testing. Actually during our last competence weekend with Jayway, Fjodor facilitated a short introductional tutorial on Jasmine. That was also a part of my decision to listen to what Pat had to say.

He walked us through some of the patterns he was going to use and then just started live-coding, showing us on the fly how to use Jasmine for TDDing the javascript application that was a quiz app. The session was a little too short to digest everything, and I am very sure Pat has a lot more to show off. But it is great that his whole javascript workshop is available here, including the slides he used.

Changing the context: How a bank changes their software development methodology – Huib Schoots

As with my own presentation and also Gittes for example, I really like experience based presentations. Before Huibs presentation I knew some of his story, but not as much as he presented. He presented how his former employer gave him the mandate to roll out context driven testing throughout his organization. They started with a very process- and requirements- driven approach to testing. Many bad copy-paste document templates and no passion for testing. The roll-out of agile lubricated the way Huib could change the way testing was thought about and carried out (I have heard this before). Starting off with shorter time boxes and working more in collaboration seemed to work. The second wave of change included exploratory testing and mind mapping. Throughout the process it was crucial not only to include learning about activities and approaches but also feed into curiosity and the willingness to change.

Developers exploratory testing-Raising the bar – Myself

Even though I have presented this topic before, I am continually learning new things about it. This time I must have had roughly 120 people in the room (some standing) which was awesome. The presentation went ok, event though I had to rush a little to cover the whole within the 45 minutes. Some valuable anecdotes went missing, however I think I got the message through. Actually by reading Petes live blog from my session I think I was actually quite clear on my takeaways. Here is my presentation.

My 3 action points

Matthew Heusser did in his keynote urge everyone to come up with three things to take action on immediately after the conference. These are mine:

  • Write a blog post about the learnings front he conference (this one).
    Why?
    To share with my colleagues and the world about my learnings.
  • Schedule a meeting with Gitte to learn more about her experiences. I think she has done amazing stuff which was just scratched on the surface in her presentation.
    Why?
    Since I think there is a lot more to exploratory testing than people think and use, and I have much to learn from more experienced people like Gitte.
  • Start writing an article about the content of my own presentation. Current working title is “Exploratory testing as a collaborative team effort”.
    Why?
    To gather and condense my thoughts and experiences into a digestible format.

And what about my learnings?

  • I learned more about the german and central-european culture and their status when it comes to agile testing.
  • Throughout the week I spent a lot of time with “the cool kids” within agile and context driven testing that were there, which gave me a lot of challenges of my own perception regarding these things. I got some challenges and actually ended up earning the Miagi-do black belt =)
  • I also got confirmation on my current work with the team collaborative efforts regarding to exploratory testing, which is going to be a big thing for me to elaborate on during the next months.
  • And after the conference, I learned that I am also one of those conference tweeters. Thank you Anne for blogging about this phenomenon, that I am a part of.

This post was also published on my company blog.

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  1. February 7, 2013 at 21:32

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