TestBash 2015 summary

The first time I went to TestBash was in 2013 after discovering that testing is a great job and can give you a career, and has an amazing community around it.

On a random side note, at 7am I got hit by bird poo for the first time in 10 years! I knew then that it will be an awesome event, it means luck being hit by bird poo, doesn’t it?

The conference was being held at the Brighton Dome for the third time, and I like the venue. It has some great mingling spaces.
What is special about TestBash to me is the community feel. There are so many social events around the actual conference, giving you the chance to meet many testers. This mean that on the actual conference day you already know at least 1 person and do not feel anonymous,
which can be the case at some of the other conferences.

The other thing that sets TestBash apart is that it is a 1 day, 1 track event. So everyone you meet will have been at the same talks and you can really discuss the topics among yourselves. This is great for introverts like myself, because you are unlikely to run out of conversation topics.

The Talks:

The Rapid Software Testing Guide to What You Meant To Say – Michael Bolton

Michael opened the conference with a great talk about how we and businesses communicate about testing and software development. I have a keen interest in linguistics and communication styles so if you do, watch the video!

Bug Detection – Iain McCowatt

Ian did a great presentation last year and didn’t disappoint this year either.
He focused on the impacts of tacit and explicit knowledge when finding bugs.
I have read a lot about tacit knowledge recently, and found it really interesting to have this applied to finding bugs.
It also made me realise how important it is to have a varied team of developers and testers, as everyone will apply their tacit knowledge to the software development lifecycle.

Re-running the ‘Are you a mac or a PC? battle … for iOS and Android – Sally Goble & Jon Hare-Winton

Next up we had Sally and Jon from The Guardian with one of my top 3 presentations of the day.
Personally I have not been involved in mobile app development in my career and loved the insights they gave us on how different it is to develop and test for Android vs iOS.
The gamification element of their presentation added a bit of fun as well.

What’s In a Name? Experimenting With Testing Job Titles – Martin Hynie

Martin did a very interesting talk, both in terms of content and visually. Have a look at the slides to know what I mean!
His presentation was the re-telling of an experiment he did at his organisation around job titles and how the businesses’ attitude towards his team changed (for the better) when they removed the “tester” label.
In a way this was a sad outcome, because the business clearly did not try to understand what testers really do and how they can contribute in a team, until he changed their job title away from “tester”.

Why I Lost My Job As a Test Manager and What I Learnt As a Result – Stephen Janaway

Stehen was up next! His talk focused on the dynamic of internal development team structures and what did not work at his company and how it improved.
I have been building up a test team at my company Crunch Accounting for the last year and hearing Stephen’s talk was a relief that I could be doing things right.
He outlined the changes his organisation made to create a better working environment inside of the development teams without losing the testing team feel.
These included trying to build an internal community around testing by coaching each other in testing techniques, sharing blogposts and creating mentorship roles instead of manager roles.

Myths and Legends of Software Testing – Vernon Richards

If I remember correctly Vernon’s talk stemmed from his 99 seconds TestBash talk from the year before!
He expanded his 99 second talk well and gave real life examples on how to address software testing myths and challenge colleague’s perceptions of testing.
I found this really useful, because the real life examples that Vernon gave can easily be applied and I am sure many of us have heard them as well!

Quality doesn’t belong with the tester! – Maaret Pyhäjärvi

The message from Maaret’s talk is one I find to be very powerful. “Quality is the team’s responsibility!”. She outlined a project where she had been the sole tester and her journey in convincing the team that they can all work towards better quality products. Some of those tips will definitely come in handy for me in the future.

Getting Rid of Release Candidate Testing – Matthew Heusser

Matt’s talk fitted in well with his workshop he did a couple of days before. My review of his Lean Software Testing Workshop is here.
He had an interesting approach of using what looked like the program paint to give his points a visual element.
The main considerations for release testing were outlined to be risk and quality. His argument was that with more frequent releases, the changes to a product will be smaller and hence the risk will actually be lower in the end. I recommend watching this one as Matt has a specific style of presenting and it really gets you thinking about the problems and solutions.

Automation in Testing – Richard Bradshaw

Richard shared with us his journey in automation testing and the things he had learned along the way. I particularly loved the point where he realised he had automated “all the things” and therefore was wasting his time maintaining his tests rather than getting good information from them. This is a valid lesson to learn very early on, although I do still find that I tend to over automate my regression tests, due to fear of missing something. To paraphrase Richard, automation should add value to other test activities rather than be the sole element of testing.

The Art of Asking Questions – Karen Johnson

This was my favourite talk of the day. Karen shared with us how factors such as timing and tone can have a real impact on what sort of answer you get to your questions.
I could definitely relate to choosing the wrong timing to ask a question and being cut off or just ignored.
There were some great audience questions around asking questions in writing, ie. via e-mail, rather than in person. The main tip was to keep the e-mail short and concise and to consider your audience.

99 Second Talks

Unfortunately I missed this years 99 second talks but the idea is that you have 99 seconds to talk about anything testing related.
Previous years have seen serious topics, funny topics and even interpretive dance and poems!
The 99 second talks are a great way to experience what it is like to stand in front of an audience and do a talk and it has even been a platform for quite a few testers to do more public speaking and be invited to the conference! I do love that TestBash gives everyone the chance to share in this way as it removes the “speakers are Gods” elements, because you can go and stand on the stage yourself.

As you may be able to tell the conference’s program this year was very varied and engaging.
The event finished with a great after party at a local pub. There was a separate area for all attendees and the venue was comfortable.

TestBash is an amazing event to meet like minded testers, learn from each other and refresh your passion for testing. I highly recommend it!

If you missed it the videos are now on the Dojo. More info here.


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