My year in review

As 2014 comes to a close, it’s a good time to reflect on how I’ve spent the year.

My conference season kicked off in May, with the ANZTB Test conference in Sydney, Australia. This was a one-day affair of around 200 people, organized by the Australia/New Zealand arm of the ISTQB, and its theme was “Advancing the Software Testing Profession”. It was pleasing to see an acceptance of and changing mindset towards testing in agile, as evidenced by the ISTQB starting an agile testing certification. In talking with folks during the breaks, though, it was very clear how far many organizations have got to go in terms of ‘keeping up’ with changes in the testing world, even with something as mainstream as agile. I maybe shouldn’t have been but I was surprised by the lack of awareness of the context-driven approach to software testing, at least as indicated by a straw poll conducted by Rex Black during his testing schools talk. The talk of the “schism” between CDT and other schools seemed to have resulted from Twitter wars between Rex and some members of the context-driven testing community, and it was interesting in itself that he chose this forum in which to air his opinions so strongly. A short but interesting start to the conference year for me.

Just a week after the ANZTB conference, I was flying halfway around the world to attend a very different kind of conference, viz. Let’s Test in Stockholm, Sweden. I was joined by around 150 in a stunning location to live and breath testing for three days, under the theme of “Raising the bar” – and I was also presenting at this conference (on my experience of developing an offshore context-driven testing team in China). As a first timer at Let’s Test, I loved the vibe of this event and got the impression that the context-driven testing community is strong, passionate, engaged and highly vocal. It also become clear to me that being challenged to use clear language and justify what you say is a confronting but very effective means of learning. My experience of presenting at Let’s Test was both fun and rewarding, even if my natural introversion means that the lead up to such presentations is still a stressful time – however, being surrounded by supportive, passionate people really helps, so thanks to all who made my time in Sweden so enjoyable and rewarding (and also thanks to the programme committee for selecting my proposal in the first place).

My next conference trip in August was another very long journey for CAST in New York City. This was a big one in the Big Apple, 250 folks gathered under the theme of “The Art and Science of Testing”. This was my first time at CAST and the programme was amazing, as was the location in the heart of Manhattan. The size of the conference was a clear indication of the strength of the CDT community and how it is shedding its “vocal minority” image. It was also pleasing to see that, as a community, we’ve moved on from ISTQB certification bashing as our main focus and that’s great as we have such compelling stories of our own to tell about what makes great testing. The development of a significant software testing capability in New York via Doran Jones and the Per Scholas scheme to encourage on-shoring of testing in the US was very inspiring too. I’ve blogged previously on how I saw a real turning point for the CDT community happening – the movement against the ISO 29119 software testing standards that started at CAST, we’re finding a voice and using it. My first CAST was full-on, interesting and made all the more enjoyable by the location in the heart of the amazing city that is New York. A truly memorable experience.

It was finally time for a more local affair in September with the short trip to Let’s Test Oz in the Blue Mountains, near Sydney, Australia. This first-time full conference under the Let’s Test banner attracted a keen crowd of around 80 to the beautiful Blue Mountains for a retreat-style total immersion testing conference experience. The good attendance was a clear indication that the CDT community in Australia and New Zealand is strong and growing, and the conference committee did a fine job selecting some top presentations and attracting both well-known and new talent. ISO 29119 was a continuing topic during this conference and the displays of critical thinking around this standard were a delight to see. I also noticed a shift – perhaps thanks to James Bach’s keynote here – towards making CDT, as a community, more inclusive and I see this as a very good thing. We should be welcoming those with an interest to educate them and show the value of context-driven thinking. This was a very socially active conference for me as I knew many of the participants from previous events around Australia and it was also a great chance to renew overseas acquaintances as well as meeting new people with a passion for testing. An excellent first Let’s Test for this part of the world, hopefully this one becomes an annual event on our testing calendar.

To round out my conference season, it was another trip back to Europe in November, for EuroSTAR in Dublin, Ireland. As usual, it was a big one, with around 900 gathering under the theme of “Diversity, Innovation, Leadership”. The programme was extensive with lots of well-known names as well as plenty of newcomers, so it was good to see diversity across the presenters too. There seemed to be a real focus on testing in agile environments, which was perfect fodder for me and I got lots of great takeaways. Although the CDT community was not strongly represented at this conference, everyone I spoke to seemed to have a genuine passion for good testing. I had the good fortune to sit next to James Christie at the excellent conference dinner (held at Croke Park Stadium) so it was good to talk ISO 29119 and other less testing topics with him. An enjoyable end to the conference season, with Dublin proving to be a very hospitable host city.

I get the feeling that the value of attending conferences is underestimated by many and we should encourage more testers to experience conferences and local meetups, both to share their stories and hear the experiences of others.

Apart from conferences (and the day job of course), I’ve been busy spreading the context-driven testing message wherever I can. And I also managed to see Status Quo live a couple of times during the year, in fine form they were too as they march on into their sixth decade!

I’m currently planning my 2015 conference season and writing proposals over my Christmas and New Year break. I’ve been lucky enough to already secure a speaking slot at Nordic Testing Days in Estonia in June so I’m very much looking forward to visiting another different country and sharing another testing story.

Thanks as always to Dell Software for their incredible support of my conference attendance and willingness to consider context-driven testing as a way to help us produce great software.

I look forward to hearing inspiring stories from the testing community in 2015 as well as continuing to share my stories (via conference talks and this blog) as a way of giving back to the fabulously supportive community I’m lucky enough to be part of.

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One thought on “My year in review

  1. Pingback: Testing Bits – 12/21/14 – 12/27/14 | Testing Curator Blog

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