Agile Testing Days 2013 – experience report

Posted on Posted in Agile, Software Testing, Training / Conferences

Better late than never 🙂

I attended Agile Testing Days 2013 and went to India for holidays. I am back in the UK now, and it’s time to reflect on the conference and share my experience.

Agile Testing Days started with a great note – some of us went for dinner, and many people stayed in the bar till morning. I was relaxed because I didn’t sign up for any tutorial for the next day. I decided to take a day off from testing and explored Berlin before joining others for dinner.

The opening keynote of the conference was from Andrea Tomasini. I found it extremely fast paced and packed with.. well a lot of information on what agile is. You can find my notes from the session here. The key takeaway from the session for me were the notion of social, technical and business risk in agile projects and reasons of dysfunction (overburden, unnecessary variations, and wasteful activities) in any major system. You can see Andrea’s blog post on the keynote here.

After the break, I joined Sami’s talk on Flying under the radar. I missed the first half of the session (last minute prep. of my talk :-)) but liked the part I attended. Sami explained how he used mind maps and visual testing strategies to move his organisation from scripted to sapient testing. You can check-out Blog from Chris to read more about this session.

After Sami’s excellent session, it was my turn to take the stage. I presented on the topic of misleading validations, and I will soon write a blog post to explain this topic.

By the way, one compromise I had to make as a speaker was – I couldn’t attend the session on infrastructure testing as it was at the same time as my session. However, main points of this talk are covered in this blog post.

After lunch, it was time to attend Mary’s keynote, and I was extremely impressed with her presence on the stage. She was extremely confident and calm. She spoke about the interdependencies and trust in agile teams. I have to get her book Discover2Deliver to get a better understanding of the concepts she was covering.

After the keynote, I headed towards the testing dojo. If you do not know what testing dojo is, you can read Markus’s blog post. Huib Schoots acted as the product owner / stakeholder for this awesome horse game. The format of the Testing Dojo was extremely relaxed – two people would test the game for five minutes and present their findings to the stakeholder. I participated with someone (Sorry completely forgot your name:-() and highlighted the need to understand why. For the five minutes we had for this exercise, we did most of our testing by asking relevant questions and identified big holes in the product. It was good fun.

After honing my testing skills in Testing Dojo, I headed towards the test lab and got various badges including I made a thing (proud :-)). Test Lab, in my opinion, should be part of every testing conference. James and Bart ran the show, and there were many interesting exercises. I settled for the Scratch found a bug and made it dance. It was good fun 🙂

After getting all the badges, I headed towards the final keynote of the day. It was fromPeter. This keynote was very entertaining and lightweight. It resonated well with me. Peter’s main message was simple and straightforward – Are you having fun?

And that was the end of the first day, and everybody was gearing towards the Halloween party. It was a great party, and I thoroughly enjoyed the show from mentalist. It was great to see our friend Ajay tried to test his methods on stage – however, he saved himself by saying – Save your questions for later 🙂

Next morning was a bit tricky. I skipped keynote sessions and got confused. There were three tracks I wanted to attend. Carlos track on BDD with JQuery and Cucumber, Adam Knight’s track on Big Data Small Sprints and Alexander’s track on Ripening of a RESTful Webservice. All of them looked very interesting. I ended up switching between Carlos and Adam’s track. Carlos talk was very much hands on, and he has written a follow-on post to explain his session. Adam has already written a piece on testing big data applications earlier, which I found related and relevant.

For my next session, I was looking forward to learning about Continuous Integration for Mobile apps. However, this session was a bit disappointing. I just got few pointers to explore from iOS and Android world. MonkeyRunner and iOS instrumentation.

After lunch, I headed towards Dan North’s keynote on accelerated agile testing – beyond automation. Dan highlighted agile teams usually have mini waterfalls in the sprints and gave a new perspective on automation – don’t automate unless it has become boring. His keynote was packed with amazing stuff. Some of the things I liked in his presentation were

  • What we do reveals what we value
  • Good choices come from experience which comes from bad choices.
  • The Goal is not automation, the goal is the confidence.
  • Test deliberately – How, Where, What and When.
  • Testing Quadrant – manual, automated, deterministic and random to highlight missing capabilities.

Overall, it was one of the best keynotes of the conference for me.

After the keynote, I spent next hour or so in the open sessions, and we discussed many issues such as a problem in the agile teams, challenges of automation and so on. Dan’s talk gave me an opportunity to talk about TestSpicer and I hosted an open space session on randomisation. We spoke about the applicability of randomisation and how TestSpicer can be used to generate and consume test data within test automation projects.

After open session, I headed towards final keynote of the day from Matt. He mentioned two main books in his talk – Thinking Fast and Thinking Slow and Black Swan which is one of my favorite books, and material of most of my talk was drawn from this book.

I started my next morning by going to David’s session on visualising quality. David emphasised that product of testing is – confidence. He shared many interesting stories in his presentation – handwritten engineering report, London tube map, infographics on Napoleon’s army and US election – very interesting. I also enjoyed the experiment he did with the audience to highlight that we give more value to what we see with McGurk experiment.

After this awesome talk, I went to the continuous Architecture Validation talk by Andreas and thoroughly enjoyed it. Andreas mentioned that number one reason for failures is the constraints on the connection pool. He spoke about the need to have ops guys as part of the integral team because prod environment will always be different. He mentioned that there are many tools to find the size of the connection pool and problems in this area. There were many practical suggestions such as testing with the empty cache and testing with a primed cache.He suggested that infrastructure data should be surfaced and made visible to everyone from Jenkins. Some of the tools he mentioned to validate architecture are dynatrace, jprofiler, ptrace, and all of them can be integrated with CI to surface meaningful information. Have a look at this slide-deck from starwest 2013.

After this awesome session, I went to Agile automation at large session and unfortunately didn’t find it interesting. It was very basic, and there wasn’t anything about how agile automation can be scaled and managed by big teams. I left this session in the middle and went to another session with on building consensus using BDD. It was a good session. I already knew about testing pyramids, and it’s anti-pattern, an ice-cream cone. I now have one more name for this anti-pattern – beer belly.

Unfortunately, that was the last session I attended, and after that, I went to Berlin to spend few more hours in the city before flying back to London.

It’s a shame I had to miss keynotes from Joe, Lisa and workshop on Security testing. I heard many good things about these sessions on Twitter.

Overall – agile testing days is amongst the best conferences I have been/spoken to. It provided plenty of opportunities to learn, network and was great fun.

Looking forward to attending this conference in 2014 as well!!

BTW – Many people have already blogged about this conference. Some of the blogs I have seen from people I follow are –

Have fun and hope to see you sometime, somewhere in the testing world!!

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