Late-August updates

August has been crazy busy with a mixture of travel, AST elections, my day job and the annual CAST conference. Some recent updates:

Learning

  • Joined my first TestAutomationU course on WebDriverIO. I already use WebDriverIO v4 but figured since it was using v5 it might be fun to see what is new and how someone else approaches designing their framework. So far I’ve picked up a few different libraries and approaches to config files. At some point I’ll go back through the class. code up the examples and put them in my repo on GitHub. Always a good idea to show your work / build a portfolio!
  • Finished reading Bad Blood. Oh such a fascinating, fun and yet frustrating book on the blood testing startup Theranos, it’s founder Elizabeth Holmes and how she was able to deceive so many people. Essentially the company used the threat of lawsuits, internal security and departmentalizations of employees to keep most people from knowing the truth or learning too much. From an a casual observer I’m fascinated how, despite terrible working conditions and low levels of trust within the organization they attracted top talent with the promise of helping revolutionize the healthcare industry. I mean that’s how powerful a message and a founder can be. There’s also a lot to be said for how smart and powerful companies are able hide information and the true power of journalism to fight against it.

The Association for Software Testing

  • The AST had our board of director elections (run by myself and Simon Peter Schrijver).
    • We welcomed two return members: Eric Proegler and Ilari Henrik Aegerter and three new board members: Lena Pejgan, Louise Perold, and James Thomas!
  • Turns out running a conference is time consuming, who would have guessed?Lol
    • I didn’t spend much time in conference sessions at CAST due to work, networking with a few people, and generally trying to keep the conference going smoothly. The funny thing is I still learned a lot!
    • I’ve written a few summaries of sessions that I hope to post recaps for but just need to find the time.
    • Now that the conference is over, a lot of work falls to my role as the Treasurer to wrap things up with speakers, etc. Its fine work but it takes time.

ETC

  • In addition to traveling with the family to Florida for CAST we also hit up Disney World a few times during our week long stay. Never been and despite it being overcast a number of days it was still incredibly hot. Thank goodness for the great weather in SoCal.
  • The first round of updates for my slides and presentation at STARWEST are done. Yay! Now to continue iterating!

There’s so much more to write about regarding CAST, my time on the board of directors, etc. so look out for those up comings posts!

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!

Highlights from CAST 2018

Last week I attended CAST in Cocoa Beach, Florida, which was my second time attending and the first since CAST in Grand Rapids back in 2015. It was a fun experience for a number of reasons including giving my first workshop at CAST and being elected to the AST Board of Directors!!! Here are some highlights:

  • Dwayne Green and I hosted a workshop called A Quick Introduction to Domain Testing about applying the test technique to a few sample applications. The workshop went well given the limited amount of time we had and for trying to teach a complex topic with a hands on approach. We’re working on a newer version that is a half day tutorial for next year which we believe will be much better. The upside is we got roughly 35 people to do some hands on testing and present their findings after each session!
  • Despite the tiring nature of the travel (I was only at the conference for two days), I walked away feeling energized about having met new people, came face to face with people I know purely online (and now AFK) and took a few things away from the talks.
  • Like many others in attendance I heard of Jerry Weinberg’s passing. While I never had the pleasure to meet him in person, I have read a few of his many books and am aware of his huge influence on our industry and community.
  • Gave an even more brief lightning talk on the Modern Testing Principles. Was pleasantly surprised when I asked the packed crowd how many had heard of the principles around roughly 20% or so of the audience had! (Afterwards I had a few follow up conversations about the principles as well.)
  • I was lucky enough to be elected to the Association for Software Testing’s Board of Directors along with a few fantastic people I already collaborate with. Thank you for everyone who voted! Our new terms starts in October and I will be taking on the role of Treasurer! I also got to sit in on my first board meeting as a director elect (I didn’t participate since it’s not my term yet).

 

As the World Turns

“As the world turns” seems like the best way to describe the busy-ness I’ve experienced recently. Feels like I’m forgetting a lot of things and to help I’ve written them down. I’m also feeling goofy so this post might contain a few GIFSs.

Work has been busy as I split my time building out our front-end automation suite and the remaining time exploratory testing. We recently brought on two new testers and combined with the pushes we’ve been doing it’s been all WORK WORK WORK WORK WORK.

For the past 8 or so years I’ve taught scuba diving through the retailer Sport Chalet which filed for bankruptcy in April and last week finally closed the store. While I’m still certified (and skilled) to teach scuba diving I haven’t yet decided if I will. If I do teach on my own there are some logistics to figure out like insurance, pool to train out of, or I could always join another dive shop. The upside of this means I’ll mainly do fun diving and have a little more spare-time!

Outside of those two things I’ve been helping my local dive club replace it’s aging website and leading an AST-BBST Test Design course. These classes are always fun but take a lot of effort for both the instructors and students. I try not to do BBST classes back to back and despite having a one month break between classes I just didn’t have the time to decompress like I thought I would.

For all these reasons and more I haven’t written much, except for this new blog post on LAWST-style workshops over at TestingConferences.org. I have lots of things to write about, lots of things to do and not a whole lot of time. Isn’t that always the excuse? Despite this, I’ve managed to keep TestingConferences up to date and finally transferred it to its own repo! (Want to help out? Contact me!)

Recently there’s been a lot of tweets about the context-driven-testing community (CDT) as a whole (or at least with some of its leaders / loudest members) and their perceived (or actual) hostility towards test automation. Some of this was in response to Chris McMahon’s post criticizing this publication about a single approach to test automation that uses the CDT branding. It’s been interesting to watch and to try to understand and I was glad to see some remarks from a few other CDT luminaries or “announcers” of community clarify a few details:

I have yet to read the publication above so I can’t comment too much on the validity of the criticism except to say I value test automation. I think it’s the only way to be effective as a tester. I also realize it’s a complex topic. In the end though, the real value of the context-driven-community and it’s way of thinking, to quote Cem Kaner, “lies in the nature of the tester’s analyses…” and that’s the part that interests me.

To end on a funny note:

AST Membership and Learning Goals

It’s official I’m a member of the Association for Software Testing or AST as it’s commonly known.

I’ve been meaning to sign up so I can take the BBST Foundations Course, meet some local (or not so local) context-driven testers, perhaps post on their discussion boards and eventually head to CAST (I’m aware you don’t have to join to go).

I’ve been bouncing around the idea of setting up some type of local tester chapter / meet up place where testers can get together, train with each other, perhaps join in a weekend tester session, learn from each other, etc. The problem is I’m not sure how to go about doing it.

In other news I also signed up for Udacity’s Software Testing (CS258) class. I’m not a programmer and it does require Python programming experience so I’m going to focus on getting up to speed before the class. I’m curious as to what they’ll teach although the syllabus gives some hint. Units include:

  1. Introduction
  2. Domains, Ranges, Oracles, and Kinds of Testing
  3. Code Coverage
  4. Random Testing
  5. Advanced Random Testing
  6. Consequences
  7. Conclusion
The mention of Oracles has me interested and so does the “kinds of testing”. I wonder how this relates to Test Techniques? Based on the site description the class seems geared more towards programmers for example unit 4 and 5 are about automatically generating test cases (Random and Advanced Random Testing). Regardless I convinced one of my co-workers (who’s a programmer) to take it with me; I might be able to learn something about testing from the programmers perspective.
If you read my previous post What Testers Need to Learn some of the areas James tells tester’s to understand include Mathematics and Technology. Udacity has an Intro to statistics and quite a few technology classes that could potentially help testers.

Are Testing “Schools” a Good Idea?

There has been some controversy with Cem Kaner announcing the Context-Driven School of Testing will no longer be called a school. Cem believes (as I understand it) calling something a “school” is too divisive resulting in an exclusionary system that might possibly ignore people with great ideas who don’t necessarily identify themselves as being in the school.

Division for classification purposes seems to have worked for numerous scientific branches and to me doesn’t seem like something to worry about. I understand how those placed in a school might find it offensive but that doesn’t mean the classification should change. It might change how one talks to other testers (i.e. not making it a divisive issue) but I personally don’t feel like I’m trapped in one school and am blind to other peoples ideas.

I’d prefer to hear a debate between James Bach and Cem Kaner but instead a video has surfaced between James and Doug Hoffman called “Are Testing “Schools” a good idea?” from CAST 2011:

As someone who is constantly exploring the testing “body of testing knowledge” I look first to those who subscribe to Context-Driven schools but even those who subscribe have very different interpretations / views on testing.

Perhaps at some point I’ll understand the greater implications of this but as of right now it seems like a far off issue.