I’m running for the 2020-2022 AST Board of Directors

Elections just opened for the Association for Software Testing’s Board of Directors for which I’m a candidate. If you are a voting-eligible member of the AST I’d appreciate the consideration as I run for my 2nd term.

For those who are voting (or possibly just interested) I completed a list of candidate questions. For fun you can compare them to my answers from 2018.

I did want to highlight a few questions that I think are important:

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My First Term on the AST Board of Directors

The Association for Software Testing (AST), a non-profit professional organization dedicated to advancing the understanding and science of software testing, has announced a call for nominations for the Board of Directors for 2020-2022. This means my two-year term as a director is coming to an end. I feel fortunate and grateful to announce I’m running for a second term. The AST has helped a lot of people including me. For this and a few other reasons described below, it feels like the right moment to reflect on what it has been like to help run this global non-profit.

The Golden Ticket

I was elected in August of 2018 while attending the Conference for the AST (CAST) in Melbourne, Florida. An AST member since 2012, I started volunteering in 2013 after I became an AST-BBST Instructor. Coming up through BBST, I thought educational advocacy was one of the AST’s most important community services. You can’t advance the understanding of the craft until testers have a solid understanding of what already exists. I really wanted to improve our offering and felt the best way was to help set priorities at the board level. 

AST Board of Directors

Elections happen every year with roughly half of the 7 person board up for election each year. The election process starts with a call for nominations and then candidates introduce themselves via questions posted to the web. Finally voting takes place during the time of CAST (typically the first week of August) and on the final day of the conference a new board is announced.

As a member-elect you are elected to a position by the sitting board members based, in part, on your preferences. In 2018 during a discussion with existing board members it came up there was a need for someone to take on the Treasurer position. It wasn’t the role I initially wanted (VP of Education was my first choice) but I felt reasonably competent so I accepted.

As with any official board position it’s a starting point for your contributions. I really wanted to focus on education but my fellow AST-BBST instructor Simon Peter (with whom I taught countless classes) wanted the position as well. We quickly both decided it made sense for him to take VP of Education and I take Treasurer. Just like we had done in our teaching we decided it would be fun to collaborate on the many changes we wanted to see in AST-BBST. I had my official role, Simon had his and yet we worked together whenever we could to improve our educational program.

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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!

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).

 

I’m running for the 2018-2020 AST Board of Directors

I’m running for the 2018-2020 AST Board of Directors this year. I’m asking for your Vote! (If you are an AST member you’ll see an email for voting on August 6th!)

If my name sounds familiar to you it could be because I ran and failed to be elected to the AST Board of Directors last year. (If at first you don’t succeed…?) Or it might be because I run and host AST’s webinar series which you might have attended, seen a blog post about or even read a newsletter article about. Or maybe I answered a question you sent to the AST via a web form, or maybe I taught your BBST class.

The point is I’ve been around helping out AST for a long time because I in it’s mission, only I think I can do more and I’m willing to dedicate my time to do so.

As part of the nomination process all of the candidates answered member-submitted questions. Please read mine and let me know what you think (even if you aren’t an AST member.)

After the questions were published a few things came to mind and might influence whether or not you’d vote for me:

  • This current slate of candidates isn’t as diverse as it could be because no women are running. From the sounds of it, the women and PoC who the board reached out to didn’t want to run or weren’t qualified. This makes the diversity question even more important and goes back to my original point -> we need to have a diverse membership in order to be able to tap those people for board candidates.
    • I love the questions regarding diversity. It’s a hard problem but I like that we are actively thinking about it.
  • CAST, the Conference for the Association for Software Testing, is partially PayToSpeak (the amount they cover isn’t enough for international speakers) which can have an impact on the diversity of speakers who can attend (only those who can afford to travel on their own dime). If elected I’m definitely going to change this.
  • When I ran (and lost) last time, one of the board members who won didn’t continue into the second part of their term. This happened the year before as well. Basically what I’m saying is this is a tough job but I’m willing to do it.

All of this is a way to remind and ask those AST members to vote for me when the time comes!

 

A GitHub Workshop & why Version Control is a Technical Skill

On April 11th, 2018 I’m giving a workshop in Des Moines, IA to the Des Moines Area Quality Assurance Association (DAQAA) called Contributing to GitHub Is for You (join us!) on learning to use git with GitHub. The workshop is based on a presentation I did with Matt Heusser called Contributing to GitHub is for Everyone from the OnlineTestConf last year.

One important technical skill of increasing importance is using version control (also referred to as source control) systems. For those un-familiar version control systems give the user the ability to track changes to code, text, html, images and pretty much any other file you want. This in turn gives the user the ability to accept, reject or restore changes to individual files on a granular level. Whether you want to look at code, documentation, file bugs, backup important files, or create a website you are increasingly likely to do this in version control.

At Laurel & Wolf people outside of our engineering team like Product, UX, legal have GitHub accounts just so they can have insight into what’s going on, what might be shipped, see what legal disclaimers we are using, etc. This is in addition to JIRA which is more broadly used across groups in the org.

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According to the latest Stack Overflow developer survey git is the most popular source control system in use today. It’s probably due in no small part to GitHub’s increasing popularity. (Or is that a chicken and egg problem?) Github is increasingly the place to host your public and private files and has given rise to the GitHub workflow aka create a branch, add commits, open a pull request, review code, and deploy. It’s a workflow that many companies and projects now use daily.

This means if you can use git to push changes to GitHub you can become technically fluent in basic software delivery. If it sounds interesting come join us or watch the shorter presentation mentioned above!

Rebooting the AST’s Webinar Series!

Last year, after failing in my bid to become a Board Member, I agreed to run the AST’s webinar program. Funny thing was I already had a small list of people and topics I wanted to learn more from / about based on conference and podcast talks. (When something intrigues me I take notes to research later.) Now I have an opportunity to track down those people and ask them to (generously) share their time with the wider world of testing!

Since the AST is a non-profit with a goal of building and developing a community of skilled testing craftspeople, anything that falls into the large arena of software testing could become a topic for discussion. It doesn’t always have to apply to an aspect of test automation which is good and should give us a larger pool to draw from. This is going to be a challenge for me. Logistically challenging but also about being inclusive of interesting topics and presenters that I might not be aware of.

For 2018 the goal is one webinar per month. I have no idea if this will be a sustainable pace or if all of my presenters will be able to deliver but that’s part of the challenge.

Anna Royzman is our presenter for January so be sure to sign up. Alan Page will present in February and after that? Who knows!

Having said this, I’m always looking for presenters and topics. Got an idea? Contact me!

A few of the past webinars the AST has hosted are available online:

Appreciating the appreciation

This month I’ve gotten several compliments and positive feedback on how TestingConferences.org has helped them. Some have been speakers, some participants looking for a conference and others have been conference organizers.

It’’s a pretty amazing feeling when (in this case) multiple people say they’ve gotten use or value from something I created. Especially since this is a side project I developed to help me learn. I introduced TC.org in October of 2015 with this blog post and since then it has grown to the top of Google’s organic search results for many software and testing conference related searches. Even though I can see the numbers having specific people confirm they are getting value is quite nice.

In other words I appreciate the appreciation. I appreciate that human touch. This is something I intend to do more often in 2018: Thank people directly when I get value from their work.

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:

Introducing TestingConferences.org

For the past few years one of my professional goals has been to attend (at least) one testing conference or workshop per year, mostly because it’s such a great way to recharge and learn what other practitioners are doing. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a good source of events aside from talking with others, so I pulled together a list on my own. The value of any events list is only as great as the number and quality of events listed so I’ve open sourced the list and posted it online with the hope that it becomes driven-by and representative of the community as a whole (as opposed to what I might like or prefer).

Introducing TestingConferences.org – a simple list of software testing conferences and workshops published collaboratively with the testing community.

I hope this site is or becomes a useful resource for the software community as a whole. I also hope others will help by contributing because that’s the only way it will become better or at least maintain its usefulness. It doesn’t matter if you are a vendor or just a fan of workshops and conferences, please add to it!

A little more detail

I’m not sure how I found my first conference, StarWest, back in 2011 but I did. Every other conference or workshop I’ve been to since has been a referral or recommendation by others, including:

  • The Rapid Testing Intensive workshop (RTI)
  • The Workshop on Teaching Software Testing (WTST 13)
  • CAST
  • STPcon
  • STARWest (I’ve been to this twice I think)

I say referral / recommendation because the primary way this stuff was and is communicated are through the people who’ve attended. Sure you can Google “software testing conferences” or come across an advertisement in a testing publication but those are only useful if you have an idea of what you are looking for. Even if you do those things you might come across the most advertised, most popular but not necessarily anything near you (especially if you are outside the US) or relevant to your particular tastes. To me, that’s sad.

Conferences and workshops are great tools for conferring, collaborating and learning. At least part of your decision to attend a conference or workshop is determined by knowing what conferences are available and where they are located. That’s where this list comes in. There was never any single source of active conferences and workshops; especially with workshops you had to be in-the-know, else just stumble across one that was occurring.

Now I’m asking for your help so we can publish this list collaboratively within the testing community.

Helping:

Truth is I’ve been developing this site for a while and promoting on Twitter as I added events. I suppose you could say this site has been in stealth mode and this is the official reveal.