2020 in Review

2020 was a year of starts and stops. Of more time but less mental energy. It was a year of developing patience and adapting to hard changes.

Patience

In early March my wife, an ICU nurse here in Los Angeles, saw the first signs of COVID coming in from travelers from Italy. Being ahead of the curve with little ability to do anything other than brace and watch it unfold forced us develop some humility.

In the AST we watched and guessed the trajectory of the virus as it spread country to country derailing our in person meeting. Then it shutdown major conference after major conference. All we could do was wait and see what are options were for our own conference, CAST. By the time it got canceled no one was surprised.

More Time

I spent more time at home with my family and less time on my commute. Despite these benefits I didn’t find more mental energy—quite the contrary. I had plans to attend many virtual conferences and I made it to none of them. Neither free nor paid. I had plans to write for other publications but couldn’t.

Writing became more consistent as I took to putting my frustrations down on paper instead. Yet I hardly published to my blog. I couldn’t get my mind to make space beyond the everyday challenges. There were / are so many things to say but no space available.

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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?

2018 In Review

As it has become a yearly tradition I will attempt to summarize the most popular and important articles I’ve written over the year along with some other forward-looking (and likely wrong) statements mixed in with past reflections.

You can find previous years here: 2017 | 2016 | 2015

What happened in 2018?

So much seems to have happend in 2018! I lost a job (laid off by a startup having problems – a startup on the brink of closing) but quickly found work as an Automation Engineering at BloomNation. That has led to new and interesting challenges both balancing time with my family and commitment to work. I’m learning lots of new things including how to program in JavaScript and the intracacies of SEO.

I’ve always spent a lot of time volunteering for the non-profit Association for Software Testing but seemed to take it to new highs as I recruited, promoted and led what I like to call “Season 1” of our webinar program. I also taught a class or two for AST-BBST and was elected to the Board of Directors!

Our home came very close to burning down in the most recent Southern California Wildfires (fires were stopped a few hundred yards away). Oh and I did a little writing:

The Five Most-Viewed Articles:

  • How To Run Your Selenium Tests Headlessly in Docker – A guide to setting up your test automation framework with a Chrome docker container for running your Selenium tests headlessly, complete with code examples. This has been my default configuration for the last year or so due to its simplicity.
  • Good and Bad UI Test Automation explained – Richard Bradshaw went off on a Twitter deep dive on UI test automation and the subtitles involved with doing it well. I enjoyed the tweetstorm and the topic so I decided to annotate those tweets and provide more context. I think I have enough information now to do a part 2 of this!
  • How to set up Apple Pay on Mac (non TouchID) – I was testing Stripe’s ApplePay integration but for some reason I wasn’t seeing ApplePay enabled through Safari. Googling didn’t help so after I figured it out I wrote a how to guide.
  • 8 Tools I use to Accelerate My Testing – The Modern Testing Principles introduced the concept of accelerating the achievement of shippable quality. Along those same lines I wrote about the tools I was using to accelerate my testing work.
  • A typical day of Testing – How I worked in 2018, aka what a typical day of testing looked like for me. It’s amazing what a year difference can make!

The first two articles 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 2018 alone I had more than 100k page views. So crazy!

A few other Important Articles:

  • After attending TestBash in San Francisco in November my family and I came home to find the surrounding areas of our home on fire. I find writing helps keep me calm and allows me to vent a bit so I wrote about the experience.
  • I enjoyed TestBash so much I wrote a recap of both Day 1 and Day 2.
  • Most of the year I wrote for myself and for WonderProxy but I also wrote one article for Stickyminds on Participating in Code Reviews as a Tester. Turns out it was one of the top 10 articles they published in all of 2018!

Highlights:

  • Hosted 6 webinars for the AST on a variety of topics. Not bad for part time thing. I’ve got a lot of ideas for 2019 too!
  • Elected to the Board of Directors for the AST. I’m now the Treasurer!
  • Attended 2 in person conferences, TestBash SF and CAST2018.
  • Gave a workshop at CAST2018 on the test technique Domain Testing.
  • Flew to Des Moines, IA and gave a workshop on Git + GitHub to a local meetup there.
  • Published two articles per month on average for this site, plus another five elsewhere. As I mentioned above the Stickyminds article was the 6th most popular of 2018!
  • Started a new job as an Automation Engineer at BloomNation!

The Future (aka 2019):

Predicting the future is fun and yet meaningless. But here are the things already on my radar for 2019:

  • Publish at least 2 articles per month here. This pace was challenging for 2018 but doable so my goal is to continue this and maybe do some outside writing.
  • Still pushing my understanding of when and how to use data to better understand our customers. After all Customers are the only ones who can judge the quality of our software.
  • Finally start updating AST’s BBST program. Working with my AST partner in crime Simon Peter Schrijver we’ve got some big plans to update content.
  • Finally migrate this blog to DigitalOcean & begin monitizing with sponsorships!
  • Continue practicing JavaScript development with NodeJS

Cheers to the rest of 2019! What will you be doing?

2017 In Review

As it has become a yearly tradition I will summarize the most popular and important articles I’ve written over the year along with some other forward-looking (and likely wrong) statements mixed in with past reflections.

You can find previous years here: 2016 | 2015

The Five Most-Viewed Articles:

  • 18 Github Projects for Testing – A simple list of 18 or so Github projects that might be useful for testing and/or testers. This includes a number of tools like Bug Magnet, Form Filler and PICT (a combinatorial tool), Libraries and Frameworks.
  • 9 GitHub Lists for Testing – Another a simple list, this time made of other lists that might be useful for testing and/or testers.
  • How do I test this? – At some point last year I realized I wasn’t communicating the way I wanted to. Using the wrong words could have (potentially) been lowering my credibility by implying I was looking for someone else to tell me how to test something. I like suggestions on what to test, what changes to consider without actually insinuating I want someone to tell me how to test.
  • Testers, don’t be afraid to make Production Changes – Also one of my favorite posts of the year. We may find bugs that have such low risk and/or low priority they aren’t ever fixed. Sitting in this position can be annoying and unless you are pairing with a developer and/or have the knowledge yourself many of these things don’t get fixed. I started fixing them myself and I encourage others to do the same.
  • Practice Using Selenium Now – It’s possible to start learning to write UI automation with Selenium WebDriver by following the great tips over at the Elemental Selenium newsletter. This is a complied list on how to do that.

A few other Important Articles:

  • Don’t be afraid to make Production Change – As I said above one of my favorite articles and a trend that continues to develop for me as I learn how to impact quality by making my own fixes.
  • Contributing to GitHub is for Everyone – My first conference presentation ever, co-presented with Matt Heusser. It was an easy topic for my first presentation and I hope to build on it with a few other OnlineTestConf presentations.
  • Being a Distributed Tester was hard – I enjoy(ed) working from home but being on a distributed team in a non-distributed company was difficult and challenging. The scars are still there but I wouldn’t rule out trying this again. Turns out it helps to talk about it.

Highlights:

  • I’m proud to have published a tip called How to Run Your Tests Headlessly with Chrome, #72, on the Elemental Selenium newsletter. When I was learning to write Selenium tests I leaned heavily on these resources, so to be able to write my own tip was pretty satisfying. I don’t really write much outside of this blog so it’s kind of a big deal
  • I managed to write and publish more than one article per month for a grand total of 16. This seems like a reasonable volume with some fluff(ier) pieces, some short pieces and some longer pieces. Continuing this pace for 2018 seems doable.
  • Started a new job and expanded our family. It’s been a fun ride with some very fuzzy and sleep deprived moments.

The Future:

  • I’m running AST’s webinar program and we have our second speaker lined up for the year. Alan Page will be talking about the (AB)use and Misuse of Test Automation in February. Sign up here.
  • My work is pushing me deeper into our rails application forcing me to learn more about our integration and unit level tests which is all fascinating and challenging. I’ve failed in a few attempts but I seem to have room to try and grow which is both scary and amazing at the same time. Turns out co-workers who always want to help and pair on things is very special.
  • Finding ways to use data to understand quality seems like a fascinating trend I intend to learn more about. I don’t know what this means yet but it sounds promising. I wonder if I can get someone to do a webinar on it..?
  • Stale posts seem inevitable as technologies and concepts change and my overall understanding evolves. Having said this I’d like to be able to update articles and maybe republish them as necessary. I have a few in the backlog that could come out in the next few months.
  • Maybe I’ll get to my first in-person conference in the last few years. Maybe I’ll even present at it.

I’m bad at long-term career planning. If you ask me where I see myself in 5 years, I can’t. For that reason I’ve probably never tried. Perhaps it’s being a father or just wanting a better designed life, but it now seems appropriate to find the time to develop both a plan and feedback system to do this instead of relying on luck.

Cheers to (the rest of) 2018!

2016 In Review

It’s a new year which means it’s time to look back at the previous year. Although this isn’t a lessons-learned or a progress report, these reviews are like a snapshot in time, forever preserved in writing. Unlike the past years I had no specific writing goals for 2016. I knew my attention would be focused elsewhere and yet I still managed to write 13 posts, bringing this site’s total to 108!

Popular posts don’t mean much but they are an interesting barometer of what others have found valuable.

You can find previous years here: 2015

Most popular posts of 2016, written in 2016:

The most interesting and/or valuable for me differed a little bit from this list. I enjoyed writing the Selenium GuideBook review and was something I had wanted to do for a while. Writing the post on Debugging Selenium Code was great because I don’t use an IDE when developing Ruby scripts, I kept forgetting the steps, couldn’t quickly Google and so found it immensely valuable to write it down (and eventually share). Selecting Platform Configuration Tests didn’t come out as great as I had envisioned it. However writing it forced me to deal with a combinatorial problem (device or configuration explosion) and then try to systematically make a choice about what I was going to test (sampling). It was fun and I keep thinking of other ways to apply it.

The Future

It’s 2017 so technically I mean the short-term future (including the present). I started a new job at a startup called Laurel & Wolf which means all kinds of fun changes and challenges (hopefully I will write about a few of them). I have yet to take the State of Testing 2017 but will be doing so shortly, so don’t you forget to sign up!

There are a number of testing topics I have been slowly tackling and unlike 2016 which seems to have been dominated mostly by tooling challenges, I plan to write about non-tooling topics. I haven’t yet sent out the first email to the amazing people on my email list but that will happen soon! 2017 is the year! If you haven’t already, join the email list!

2015 in Review

The beginning of the year seems an appropriate time for looking back at the good and the bad of the previous year. Looking at the data to determine what things I want to continue doing or to develop and what I might want to change.

I had a lofty goal of publishing two posts per month for 2015. I ended the year with 21. Not bad, but I’m going to push my goal higher for 2016 and aim for three. Sometimes when I’m writing I become conflicted about the frequency with which to post. I don’t necessarily want to write about everything little detail. However, when I look back on the posts I have published I’m always happy that I put something out. Still I’d like to side on quality over quantity, so I’m ok if I don’t hit that goal.

Popular posts don’t mean much but they’re still interesting.

Most popular posts of 2015:

Three of those popular posts were time intensive to produce and I’m very proud of them. The other two solve specific problems for me and apparently for others as well. There were quite a few other time intensive posts that I’m proud to have written that just missed the top five but would make it in a top ten list. In summary, I’m happy that what I’m writing is getting some attention.

2015 marked a few big launches: In February I moved to publishing all my writing here instead of at that old blog. In October I launched an open source list of software testing conferences and workshops at TestingConferences.org and I’m delighted and surprised every time someone commits an update.

A few other tidbits about 2015:
  • Didn’t get to read as many books as I had originally planned to. Not sure if 2016 will be much of an improvement. Most of the books I read are non-fiction / reference and I know that will shift next year to more fiction / sci-fi. On the positive side, I read a lot of blog posts and articles!
  • I haven’t yet sent out the first email to the amazing people on my email list but that will happen soon! 2016 is the year! If you haven’t already, join the email list!
  • I realized I don’t like the layout of this site / template and want to change it’s look and feel. Maybe I’ll get to it in 2016?
  • I taught just a little bit of scuba diving but a lot of software testing. 2016 will be even more.