TestBash 2015 – Sun, Sea and Test

March, Brighton and Testers can mean only one thing… TestBash is back!

TestBash 2015 was the second one I’ve attended and this year did not disappoint, in fact I found it better than last year.
2015-03-27 08.17.55But first, one of the reasons I was at TestBash this year was to run the Lean Coffee pre-conference event. Following the same last year, Rosie obviously deemed it not to be a total disaster and let me do it again! This year, however, I had help in the form of the ‘Friendly Tester’ aka Richard Bradshaw.

So armed with post-its, pens, coffee, bacon and tea, we filled all 56 chairs spun up the Lean Coffee machine.

There were some interesting conversations going on, and everyone seemed to enjoy it which was cool.

It was great to see some old faces, and lots more new ones. Similarly the Thursday evening was the pre-testbash meetup, where I caught up with Danny Dainton, Emma Keaveney, Richard Bradshaw, Mark Tomlinson, Guna Petrova amongst others.

2015-03-27 09.46.33The main event did not disappoint. The opening keynote by Michael Bolton was simple yet so very interesting. I’ve not done the RST course yet, but heard many great things about it. The talk “The Rapid Software Testing Guide to What You Meant To Say” introduced common sayings and how they are often interpreted and how they could be reworded to be more effective. Using “safety language” can help avoid false confidence and accidental deception. It is certainly something that I’m going to read up more on and share with my fellow testers.

Sally Goble & Jon Hare-Winton from the Guardian, did an engaging talk entitled “Re-running the ‘Are you a mac or a PC? battle … for iOS and Android”. As a developer of a mobile app myself, I related to alot of the issues between iOS and Android, so found this fascinating. They presented it really well with a nice balance of information and humour. They pulled off the double act superbly.

Other talks that struck a chord with me was the

Stephen Janaway’s talk “Why I Lost My Job As a Test Manager and What I Learnt As a Result” really struck a chord. We’ve been running cross-functional teams for a few years now, and we’ve tried the concept of the test function ‘manager’, co-ordinating learning, communication, sharing etc across teams with mixed success. The ‘test coach’ idea suggested by Stephen is certainly one that makes more sense, but would rely on getting buy-in from the teams to allow their testers time to participate in initiatives and to allow the testing coach to assist on the team.

I met Vernon Richards a year ago at TestBash 2014, and roared with laughter at his 99 second talk where he listed as many myths of testing as he could in the time allowed. This year, he came back but this time upgraded to a full talk! He has such a natural presence on the stage, and he did not disappoint. The talk covered many of the common myths, with most of them both debunked as well as highlighting the grain of truth. Again, it was pointed out that wording has a lot to do with it.

One of the most fascinating yet depressing talk was entitled “What’s In a Name? Experimenting With Testing Job Titles” by (Canadian) Martin Hynie. Following very little interest from other parts of development to use testers skills, Martin experimented with names, creating a new division called Tech Research. This prompted requests for the tech research guys to get involved in those different parts of development. Of course the ‘tech research guys’ were exactly the same testers as before. It just shows how hung up some people are on job titles, rather than looking past them and looking at the skills of the people. Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed this so many times of the years.

Other talks that resonated were Richard Bradshaw’s “Automation in testing”, Matt Heusser’s “Getting rid of release candidate testing” (which incidentally saw Matt drawing his slides live on his iPad!), then finally the amazing Karen Johnson with “The Art of Asking Questions”.

This last talk was great and is so important for all testers. A good friend of mine, Pete Walen, told me a few years ago that he believed in the term QA… but to him it stood for “Question Asker”. This is what every tester should be, a question asker. Karen showed us considerations to make when asking questions, ways to ask them and words to use. She has such a relaxed style, it was more of a masterclass than a talk.

It was great meeting Christian Field, who was on my BBST foundations course, Heidi Salmon from fellow Cambridge firm Cambridge Consultants, just two of many new people I met today!

Some familiar faces too, Paul Coletti, Dan Billing, Simon P.Schrijver, Neil Studd, Stephen Janaway, Matt Heusser…

But now I’m back home in Bedfordshire… exhausted… but with just enough energy to say thank you Rosie and Team for a great event, and roll on 2016!

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