2019 in Review

My yearly tradition has been to summarize the most popular and important (to me) articles I’ve written over the past year along with some reflections and other forward-looking (and likely wrong) statements mixed in.

You can find previous years in review here: 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015

Santa Monica Pier, near my office

What happened in 2019?

I joined BloomNation as a Test Automation Engineer in 2018 and in 2019 was promoted to senior role. The promotion was in part my testing contributions and hitting my goals but also the general impact I’ve had on the company outside of that role. During CAST I was telling people I had temporarily switched positions by taking on a Product Manager role until we could fill the vacancy. While temporary, I helped the company continue to deliver on a new core piece of the business and in turn it gave me some new experience and perspective. I plan to write about this experience soon. 

Speaking of CAST 2019, this was my first year helping to organize and run a conference of any kind. I plan to write about this experience as well but suffice it to say this was both fascinating and incredibly hard. 

I did some speaking in 2019, made my first and second podcast appearance and found what I hope is a sustainable model for supporting TestingConferences.org. I’ve started to become more serious about potential ways to support the things I do. In fact one theme of 2020 might be me figuring out how to balance all the things I want to do with all the things I’ve already committed to doing.  Just like every year!

The Five Most-Viewed Articles: 

  • How to debug problems on Mobile Safari – After showing a co-worker how they could debug mobile safari problems on their MacBook, I realized it wasn’t common knowledge. So I helped change that a bit but making it clear how to do it.
  • Participating in Code Reviews as a Tester – I’ve always liked the concept of helping testers push their technical understanding to reduce both risk and increase confidence. This post was based on a webinar of the same name and includes the slides and a link to watch the webinar.
  • How I Became an Automation Engineer – A talk based on my personal experiences of becoming an Automation Engineer and what my role looks like. This also became a blog post with references, slides and an embedded video.
  • Move Fast and Make Things Better – I much prefer the saying move fast and make things better over move fast and break things and this article points out why.
  • It’s Easier to Write about Tooling – Whenever I go to conferences there is a heavy emphasis on what our tooling is. Even in my own writing there can be a heavy emphasis on tools and I think that’s just because it’s easier than writing about the decisions we took and models we made prior to choosing it.

Over 185k page-views in 2019

The first article made it into my top 10 articles over all, which is great. Traffic to this site continues moving up and to the right over time. In 2019 alone I had more than 185k page-views. That’s double the views in one year! Wow!

A Few Other Articles

  • It was the Creative Web that collapsed – The title of this post is a line from Edward Snowden’s new book, Permanent Record. It’s a great book, you should read it. I reflected on how Surveillance Capitalism is part of the world of the web and how I hope to limit that surveillance on all my sites.
  • Getting Paid to Learn was a reminder of how important it is to have the company you work for support your professional development. Making promises is one thing but taking action to do it has a positive effect on the people and the company culture.
  • You Don’t Have to be an Expert to Teach is a friendly reminder that all we need to do to teach someone something is know slightly more than they do.

These are articles were written because I was feeling the flow and when inspiration hits you take it. They turned out well, I’m proud to write consistently about topics that intrigue me and I hope there’s intrigue on the other side too. 

The Future is already here

Predicting the future is fun and yet meaningless. But here are the things already on my radar for 2020. So much to consider and so little time:

  • CAST 2020 is already rolling with early bird ticket sales open.
  • I’m almost done teaching an AST-BBST Foundations course, my first in a few years and I’m constantly looking at the course with an eye for improvements.
  • Speaking of improvements, I’m still helping to redesign some aspects of the course AND of course trying to be a treasurer and handle all the financial things.
  • When it comes to writing I hope to continue the pace of 2x blog posts per month. It’s challenging but doable. More would be great but I want a constant pace to keep myself going.
  • I also hope to start publishing / writing more articles that touch on JavaScript, CypressIO and WebDriverIO. I’ve been primarily using JavaScript in the last year in a half and I’ve written almost no examples using it.
  • Despite record setting viewership in 2019, I’m hoping to get better at self branding and sharing which should see page-views increase YOY again. I’ve already updated the newsletter to be less often so I can focus on driving readership for certain articles. I also intend to cross-promote on other blogging and reading platforms to gain viewership. So much to do.
  • I essentially did 3 presentations / talks in 2019 and I intend to do the same or a few more this year (especially for the online conferences). Hopefully I’ll also get around to making a few more podcast appearances because they are fun to do and fun to share.

Cheers to the rest of 2020! What will you be doing?

What it means to be a leader in testing

Background:

During CAST I sat for an interview with Pradeep Soundararajan of Moolya Testing. We talked about a few things mostly on what it meant to be a leader in the testing space. They made a short video on the interview so check it out or read the transcript.

Transcript:

When I think of test leadership, I think of two angles: one is the thought leadership within the industry itself, and in the other is the experience I’m able to impart on my coworkers. So sort of two diverging ideas. One of them is because I’m often the sole tester. It usually means I’m sort of the de facto person that knows testing a bit more than everyone else. It’s like how do you coach and extend and just sort of bring up the level of testing and quality within an organization? Then the other part is like, what are other people doing? What are the things I’m missing? What are, you know, just constantly looking at what the industry and sort of beyond are doing?

Help me choose my CAST 2019 schedule

I’ll be attending CAST in Cocoa Beach, FL next week and I can’t quite decide what sessions and workshops I want to attend on during the conference days (Wednesday and Thursday). I will definitely live tweet but I’d also like to do some live blogging / recaps / summaries of the sessions.

My ask is if you help me choose my CAST schedule, in return I’ll share what I learn in the form of a live blog / recap of the session. That way we both get something out of it. Deal?

To help me choose:

  1. Check out the CAST schedule
  2. Leave a comment telling me which sessions and/workshops for the 2 days or tweet at me doing the same thing.
  3. I’ll tally up the results and post which sessions and workshops I’ll be attending
  4. Then I’ll blog!

Five for Friday – July 26, 2019

I have now managed to keep my publishing trend of 4 weeks straight with this post! Here are five links worth exploring:

Alright this is slightly more than five links worth exploring but you get the idea. Did I miss anything important?

Do things that don’t scale

If you can find someone with a problem that needs solving and you can solve it manually, go ahead and do that for as long as you can, and then gradually automate the bottlenecks. – Paul Graham

With the title of Automation Engineer it might seem like automating bottlenecks is “my jam” and therefore “do[ing] things that don’t scale” might seem kind of an odd thing for me to agree with. However it turns out this is a useful way to think through solutions to problems, including testing problems.

From a business standpoint this makes a lot of sense, why waste time automating something until you are sure it has value? Many startups have blown through money building solutions to things (or automating problems) that aren’t actually important (or real problems). If you are an established company and thinking of branching into a new market segment, it’s ok to do everything by hand at first: signing up customers, placing orders, building website, etc.

From a software standpoint this also makes a lot of sense. Don’t worry about automating bottlenecks like test setup or execution until:

  1. You are sure the tests have value (business or technical) AND
  2. They’ve become bottlenecks to delivery

Otherwise don’t waste your time.

Participating in Code Reviews as a Tester

Have you ever wondered what a code review is and/or what it’s like to participate in one? Are you a tester, product or business person who regularly interacts with the output of the code but wonders if they could catch bugs earlier by “shifting left”?

Turns out you don’t have to know how to code in order to learn about the changes, question the assumptions, clarify ambiguities, and generally participate in the knowledge-sharing around Code Reviews. Here’s a presentation on how to get started and what to look for.

Simply register to gain access, and the video will start right away.

Slides

References

Move fast and make things better

I much prefer the saying move fast and make things better over move fast and break things. The latter might be more popular but the former is more realistic.

Moving fast (software agility) used to be a business advantage but now, at least for any service business, it’s mostly a requirement. Fast implies some things might “break” and while that’s part of the process it should never be our aim. (We should have flexible systems in place to help us quickly identify and fix those “breaks”. Moreover a DevOps culture can help us improve stability so “breaks” are less severe.)

A more realistic mission should be to solve our customers problems and do so in a way that continually improves. Where failure doesn’t mean we stop but rather we iterate until it’s right. This way we solve the customers problems while being able a benefit to our business.

Now let’s go move fast and make things better!!

Join my Webinar on Participating in Code Reviews as Tester

Last year I wrote an article for Stickyminds about Participating in Code Reviews as a Tester where I made the case for Code Reviews being more than just a chance to catch bugs. They also serve as a chance to see how something is built and have a conversation about it.

We, as Testers, question software differently from developers so it’s important that we participate in this knowledge-sharing practice and now I’m going to try to show everyone how!

I’ve partnered with TestCraft for a webinar on May 21, 2019 at 9am PST.

I will demonstrate a live Code Review (or two) and show everyone it’s not about knowing how to code, it’s about asking questions and learning about the changes.

Expect to Learn:

  • The basic git workflow, where the creation of a Pull Request leads to Code Reviews
  • What to look for when you are Code Reviewing from a tester’s perspective
  • A practical way to get started doing your Code Reviews on your own
    The webinar will end with a Q&A.

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late-April Updates

April has come and is nearly gone without any prose being published. I couldn’t have that. You see I’ve been writing but I haven’t condensed that prose into a nice enough package to share. In the meantime lots of things are happening that are worthy of sharing:

    • On Friday, May 3rd at 10:00am PST, I’ll be hosting Doug Hoffman for the AST’s May webinar on “The Often Overlooked Test Oracle: The Key to More Powerful Testing”. I love talking with Doug because he’s so knowledgeable and frankly I think Test Oracles aren’t very well understood. Learn More or Sign Up.
    • Speaking of the AST, our conference CAST 2019 is open for early bird registration AND all the speakers have been announced. I’m already signed up! You should too.
    • Despite being the “just” the Treasurer for the AST, I’m actively involved in most aspects of the business including finance, marketing, SEO, IT, conferences, education and elections to name a few. Ultimately what this means is I spend a good deal of my time trying to help improve the organization. It’s a fun challenge.
    • I’ll be doing a half-day tutorial at StarWest 2019 on “Testing Today’s Web Applications: Tools You Can Use” which I’m super excited about.
    • I’ve agreed (and am excited) to be doing an online conference talk on my experience of being an Automation Engineer. More details to come.
    • I made an appearance on the AB Testing Podcast’s 100th episode two weeks ago. It was a lot of fun and honestly it’s my favorite (testing) Podcast.
    • Two weeks ago I interviewed with Joe Colantonio for what will eventually become an episode of his TestTalks podcast. I’m really excited to see how this turns out!

That’s enough about me, what have you been up to?