An In-depth look at CAST 2015

The Conference for the Association for Software Testing or CAST 2015 was held in Grand Rapids, MI during the first week of August. Since then I’ve been trying to reflect on what I thought, learned, liked and didn’t like. Here is that reflection in roughly 3,000 words. To speed the reading process I’ve created a table of contents.

tl;dr – overall CAST was great and I walked away with a lot to think about and apply to my job.

Speaking Truth to Power: Delivering Difficult Messages by Fiona Charles

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The idea of a Professional Tester

As rough as traveling can be, one benefit is dedicated time to catch up on reading. I finally got around to a post from Uncle Bob on “Sapient Testing: The “Professionalism” meme” and it captured something I’ve been thinking about for a some time: the label of professional(ism).

I’ve been using the “professional” term online to call attention to a potential difference between myself and everyone else: that I take my work seriously. Being a professional isn’t just about being paid to do something – there are many people paid to do jobs they could care less about (airports are a constant reminder of this); I mean professional in the sense of caring about the quality of my work, my skills and my ability to stay relevant.

After reading what Uncle Bob wrote after he attended a keynote by James Bach on the topic of professionalism, I think this says it better:

A professional tester does not blindly follow a test plan. A professional tester does not simply write test plans that reflect the stated requirements. Rather a professional tester takes responsibility for interpreting the requirements with intelligence. He tests, not only the system, but also (and more importantly) the assumptions of the programmers, and specifiers.

Uncle Bob goes on to say:

I like this view. I like it a lot. I like the fact that testers are seeking professionalism in the same way that developer are. I like the fact that testing is becoming a craft, and that people like James are passionate about that craft. There may yet be hope for our industry!

I like this view as well; I like it a lot.