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State of Testing Survey 2013

Via Rob Lambert’s Social Tester blog I’ve just come across the State of Testing Survey 2013, which the guys over at QA Intelligence and Tea Time with Testers are going to be running.

This seems like a great idea to me. Too often within the testing community I think we focus too inward, be that within the company we work for, or the testing community that is immediately around us. I met some great people at this years’ Eurostar who I never knew existed before, primarily because they were not from the UK and therefore not part of the UK testing community.

A survey which allows us to get a wider view of our profession and our community can only be a good thing in my book. It can help us understand our joint challenges far better, and to set the future direction. I’ll be a part of the survey and I hope you will be too.

The survey is not currently open but it will be soon. You can find out more information at the QA Intelligence blog.

Note: I’m not affiliated with the survey or those running it, I think the survey is a good idea so I’m supporting it.

Experiences of the Agile Testing and BDD Exchange



The Agile Testing and BDD Exchange took place last week. It was the first time that I had attended the event, and I was looking forward to attending something that was not purely testing focused. I think that we in the testing world do need to branch out a bit more and attend events that are not merely about testing, (blog posts on that coming later), and this was one of my first.

Although billed as a testing event, it was primarily BDD focused, with sessions focused around requirement analysis and definition, stakeholder engagement and business collaboration. And testing.

As is usual with Skillsmatter events, all the talks were recorded and podcasts are available. I took mindmaps as each session progressed, where it was possible to do so. You can find them all linked below.

Two things struck me at the event. One was that it the audience was primarily Business Analysis and BDD focused. This wasn’t a bad thing and meant that it was possible to strike up some conversations around how testing could get closer to the business, and how the information that testers can provide can be of real value to the whole team. However, despite everything that we as testers say and the education that we do, there are still significant numbers of people in the software development world who do not understand that testing should be more than just pushing buttons and checking. Too many attendees were using the term QA, and too many were questioning the value of testing, which surprised me at a conference about Testing and BDD. This shows we have a lot more work to do in order to educate and share what testing really is, and Tony Bruce did an excellent job in this respect with his talk ‘What Do Testers Do?”. Unfortunately I don’t think everyone was listening.

The second thing that struck me was that having group Skype Q&A sessions as part of a conference can actually work. The session ‘BDD and the Business Analysts’ was conducted with 5 experts in Business Analysis who were all sitting in various parts of the US, with the facilitation and questions coming from the conference in the UK. I was dubious that it would work but it worked very well. It felt inclusive and I’d certainly like to explore doing something similar at testing events and meet-up groups.

Overall, the Agile Testing and BDD Exchange was worth attending. It was good to meet those who one does not normally meet at more traditionally ‘testing’ events, and share cross team experiences, rather than just talk testing. I’d go again.

Well That Was EuroSTAR 2013

WP_000824Keith Klain explains why overcoming organisational bias towards testing is hard...

My First EuroSTAR

I’ve just returned from my first EuroSTAR conference. What a great experience. It was a very busy three days of learning, listening, talking and interacting with many different people from the testing community.

For me, everything kicked off on the Tuesday lunchtime with the first time delegates session. This was a great way of being introduced to the conference and to some others who were also new. We ran through a number of different ice-breaker exercises and got a lot of useful hints and tips that we could use in order to make the most out of the conference. The main one was talk to people. Being a regular attendee at tester meetups I totally agreed with this; the more you put into something like EuroSTAR then the more you get out, and taking the time to talk to people you don’t know can be really rewarding. Since EuroSTAR is an international conference then there were a lot of people to meet who I’d never met before, as well as the usual suspects from the UK testing community.

Recording and Sharing

I thought I’d try a new way of note taking and sharing this year. Instead of writing down my notes, then updating them at a later date, I used my Nexus 7, together with Mindomo and WordPress to mind-map each session and then share it on this blog as soon as possible after the session finished. I found this worked really well, Mindomo on Android allows really quick mind-mapping, and the WordPress app works pretty well. I got some decent feedback via Twitter (once I’d figured out how to post the mind-maps in a size people could actually see) so I’ll be taking the same approach at other conferences and events that I attend from now on.

The Keynotes and Track Sessions

I mind-mapped every session apart from Ian Rowland’s (which, being magic based, really needed to be seen). The posts are on the blog:

It’s Much More Than the Keynotes and Track Sessions

But attending keynotes and track sessions is merely one part of a conference. In order to get the most out then there’s a whole lot more to do (and I don’t just mean figuring out how to blag as much free stuff from the exhibitors :)). I had the opportunity to talk testing with a lot of people I had never met before, and to finally meet a number of people I’ve followed on Twitter in person for the first time. I’ve taken away a lot from these conversations, and learnt a lot from them. So thanks to everyone I talked to.

Outside of the keynotes and track sessions there was also time to play in The Test Lab. James Lyndsey, James Bach, Michael Bolton and a number of others popped in from time to time, and there was a number of testing puzzles, and opportunities to learn. I spent a fun hour starting to learn Robotium for Android test automation and the Test Lab team were a great help. It was a shame that I didn’t spend a bit more time there.

The Community Hub was also a great place to meet people, and to listen to the regular soap-box sessions, where testers and conference speakers could get up and talk for a few minutes on a testing topic of interest.

The EuroSTAR party on the Wednesday night was a highlight, with the opportunity to play testing games (or the casino) and even the opportunity to pick-up a guitar and play some tunes with fellow testers. Very good fun.


EuroSTAR trialled a new facilitation method this year, based upon the one used at LEWT and other peer conferences. I thought it worked really well and gave some good structure to what can otherwise become somewhat out of control pretty quickly. Every delegate got three coloured cards included in their conference pack, one red (indicating I need to ask something right now), one yellow (indicating I want to comment on an existing discussion) and one green (indicating I have a new question), along with a unique number. When the time came to ask questions, you could hold up your card and the facilitator would note down your number. They would then organise the questions into a stack and work top to bottom until they ran out of questions or time. It worked well.

My highlights of the 3 days

There were so many sessions that picking highlights isn’t easy. I really enjoyed Keith Klain’s session on Overcoming Dissonance but I’d say my top three, in order, were:

The first two are very relevant to the current situation where I work, and I could take a lot away from both the presentations. Fooled By Unknown Unknowns was a great story about a testing project and what could be learnt from it. I was not alone in enjoying this one, it was picked by the conference attendees as the ‘do over’ session, meaning that it got repeated at the end, and Alexandra presented twice.

So to Next Year….

I really enjoyed EuroSTAR and I really want to go back next year. It’ll be in Dublin, with programme chair being Paul Gerrard. Call for papers opens soon, and the conference will hopefully be great. Maybe I’ll see you there?