Blasting off to CAST 2010

It’s my first outing to CAST this year.

CAST has been on my wish list for a couple of years now, but with moving countries, raising kids, and earning a living I’ve found it hard to make it. This year I decided no more excuses, it was time to go.

As well as wanting to attend the conference and meet some great testers, I wanted the chance to complete the BBST Instructors course which is being held as a post conference session. I’ve been assisting in the Black Box System Testing courses for a while now. I find teaching them very satisfying and to boot, I get taught by some great testers on giving courses.

The post CAST session is being run by Becky Fielder a long time trainer and Cem Kaner. So as well as being taught by some of the best, I  get to meet them too. There is some information here on the course.

I was looking for sponsorship for this one though. There was no way I was going to be able to make it on my own. Fortunately the Association For Software Testing stepped in and have sponsored me the conference fees. So a BIG THANK YOU to the AST for that.

The Software Testing Club offered to sponsor my accommodation, so another big THANK YOU to Rosie Sherry and the crew at the STC.   The STC crew work really hard to make a genuine and real experience for many software testers.

I’ve had great support from them in so many areas, from mentoring, recruiting, publishing my articles as well as some great discussions on their testing forum.  It’s also nice to see people bringing fun into testing. I think sometimes we take ourselves way to seriously.

I’m still on the hunt for more sponsorship, so if you know of a company or association willing to support, get them to contact me. I’m happy to wear a T-Shirt at the conference, blog about how supportive they are etc. Another way to sponsor me is to offer me some work!

Below, I’ve included information about this year’s CAST. I hope you can make it!

Attend CAST 2010

The 5th annual Conference of the Association for Software Testing

August 2-4, 2010, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

“Skills in Testing”

About CAST

CAST reflects the AST’s core mission: to build community amongst scholars, practitioners, and students for the advancement of the practice of software testing. In 2010, CAST aims to leverage peer collaboration to build an enhanced understanding of how various skills influence tester effectiveness.

CAST offers a unique opportunity to learn and confer with others that simply isn’t found at other conferences. Each scheduled session allocates time for facilitated “open season” discussions that encourage participants to question and challenge the presentation. What takes place in the hallways, at receptions, and during meals and lightning talks truly sets CAST apart; for many attendees, the greatest value is derived from the opportunity to discuss and delve into the topics that matter to them.

Space is limited Register Today!

More information and Registration:

We can’t wait to see you in Grand Rapids!

Softtest Talk on Automated Testing in Agile Environment

Softtest Ireland does a great job of holding free talks for software testers in Ireland. They held a talk yesterday on the following:

Automated Testing & Development in an Agile Environment

The two speakers were:

Sebastien Lambla from CaffeineIT is a “developer passionate about all things Agile” . He spoke about “In the life of a lean feature” and,

Ken Brennock from Sogeti Ireland, talking about “Individuals and Interactions over processes and tools”

The attendance was great, the room was packed and there was a real interest in what these speakers had to say. It was a mixed bunch of testers and test managers. Some were considering moving to Agile, others were already in the process, some like me were there to listen and perhaps pick up a few tips.

In the life of a lean feature

I found Sebastien Lambla’s talk a real challenge and I consider this to be a good thing. I like it when I hear something that I totally disagree with.  In this case, it was the concept of a “Cross Competency Team” where you ‘trust your team to be good enough to do everything”. So the example given was, a developer goes and assists with release management if work is backing up.

I did not like the sound of that!  So I asked the question “does that mean in times of need, a release manager helps out in development”.  The answer was in theory yes, if they had the skills.

And this is where I have the problem with the idea. Because in my view, a tester has special skills too which sets them apart from the rest of the team. They are testers because they think differently, have a different perspective and bring something special to the team that most other members don’t have.

But, when the chips are down and the feature is late, does the whole team help out in testing? Or are only those who have the necessary  testing skills allowed to test? I suspect not!

I’m guessing (or I’m hoping) that I am missing the point about Cross Competency Teams, mostly due to ignorance.

Probably, the intention or goal  is to promote the concept of “the whole team getting the feature over the line”  and that in reality, the developers would be perhaps helping out by using their strengths to supplement the tester instead of substituting the tester.

So, for example, the tester would hand over a bunch of code that had to be automated, leaving them to focus on perhaps exploratory testing.

Anyhow, onto the next talk.

Individuals and Interactions over processes and tools

The title of Ken Brennock’s talk was about  “Individuals and Interactions over processes and tools” which I thought was ironic considering he was talked mostly about tools and little about how a testing individual can contribute in an agile environment”.

Still his talk was very useful.

He used the waterfall process to demonstrate the types of tools to be used in Agile testing. This perhaps was not a talk for the real agile devotees, but it provided some very useful and practical tips on moving from Waterfall to Agile.

I liked how he focused on test data and test environment. He said, that when moving to Agile the priority for testers is to focus on automating the test environment and test data. I think this is so true. One agile team I know of, made sure the developers first created the install and configuration scripts before any other code was written. This way the test team could start creating the test environment and nutting out these issues, which most testers know can be an area of considerable pain.

Ken is giving this talk again in webinar format on Wednesday 7th October.

For both talks, I thought it was a shame that for a talk to testers, so much was focused on automation. I guess thats what a lot of people want to hear, but I still think there is room to discuss the value testers can provide in exploratory testing in an agile environment.

All in all, I feel I have gained much from these talks, many thanks to Softtest Ireland for organising such a good event.

Incidentally, the membership to Softtest ireland is free to all software testers.

How many 70’s references can you pick up?

OK, I’m really not one to get into bragging, but I just can’t help tell you all about this one, because I am so excited!

I’ve been asked to be a weekly contributor to (QTT to those in the know). I feel, honored, excited and challenged.

Honored: I get to post along side people I admire, like Jonathan Kohl. I respect Jonathan because he backs up his thoughts with experience.

Excited: Its something new, something I have never done before.

Challenged: I want to be able to bring something to TPP that is appreciated and welcomed. I love that challenge.

Thats it! No analogy to testing, no words of advice, just simple elation.

Can you feel it ? !!