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My first [Let’s Test] conference

May 17, 2012

Yes. It is really my first software testing conference ever.

So let’s see what attracted me to choose to go to Runö, Sweden.

If you open Let’s Test home page you will find that organizers (more about them later) listed four reasons to attend the conference: let’s confer, the program, the pricing and the venue.

And they succeeded with all that they promised.On my way to Runö I shared cab with Alexandru Rotaru, Oana Casapu and Bill Matthews. Or better they offered me to join them, because I had different agreement. It helped me that I recognized Alex. We met in BBST Test Design class a month ago. By the way, the organizers created password protected post where you could synchronize a travel to Runö with other attendees. Organizers welcomed us at arrival and after a meal we had a short walk around the venue. More and more people arrived and we started to confer even before the conference had started. As I met some of the attendees in BBST classes and knew the others by reading their  blogs or watched their speeches on internet I realized that my community is not any more virtual only. It became real. Perhaps I’m no longer a lurker; Jon Bach named a few of us that way when we joined his live blogging during one of CAST 2011 session using and going to give something back to community. Hope that nobody will regret this moment. Therefore I’m writing my first blog post about my first test conference.

Next three days were mixture of keynotes, tutorials and sessions.

The keynotes took place in large conference room and they were opened to all attendees. I know there is at least one blog post about first keynote. Post that was published almost immediately after the keynote. How? Well, Zeger Van Hese uses term ‘live-blogging’, “an art perfected by the ubiquitous Markus Gärtner.” Anyone blogged about Rob Sabourin‘s,  Scott Barber‘s or Julian Harty‘s keynotes?

The tutorial or two you choose in advance took the whole on Monday. Except the time after dinner which was full of evening activities. I attended Michael Bolton‘s “Critical Thinking Skills for Testers” and Rikard Edgren‘s “Exploratory Test Design” where I’ve got a printed copy of “The Little Black Book of Test Design“. Did I mention each of the attendees got another book as a present? As you can imagine whatever you chose, you wanted to know what the others tutorials or sessions were about. Time to confer again. And the organizers promised some of the slides will be published on conference site.

There were a plenty of sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday. I’m going to share my impressions about two of them which included a practical aspect.

Markus Gärtner run the session “Charter my tests!”. What makes up a good charter? The participants formed four of five teams. Each team should agreed on product and feature to test and development methodology. Based on the mission the team should list the charters, should present the charters to other participants and should explain why those charters and why they are good. After the session I still had a lot of questions about defining a good charter. Is this what only or at least how in addition /in some degree/ what define charter. Or there is more?. I’m definitely going to reread some of the available sources about SBTM. But, the nice part of the conference is that if something is not clear enough you have a chance to confer with other attendees. So I had a rich discussion about SBTM with Paul Holland (I am hardly resist not to link Paul to one of the pictures from Lets Test) and his way of doing SBTM. I had possibility to question Oliver Vilson about  some aspects of SBTM and his experience. I failed to be on other session on this topic or to talk to the speaker himself – Micke Albrecht. And to speak with two other participants Anne Baik and Ben Kelly and asked them if there is anything new comparing to the discussion they had at the beginning of the year. Of course, the only way is to do it myself /no try – do or do not/.

“Coaching Testers” run by Anne-Marie Charrett is presentation of some of the complexities about coaching. After the introduction to the world of coaching we had chance to see a live demo. The idea for a session and the dynamic of coaching based on student response. And I was brave enough to raise my hand on time and be able to play a coach role. Why is that interesting to me? Well, I’m a James Bach‘s student for some time. Being in different role for even ten, fifteen minutes was quite interesting. I had no idea who is on the other side. I played a coach role with help of Anna Baik. The file that should be described by student has been sent to student by Anne-Marie directly. The student’s description started with some facts (e.g. resolution) that are different to what I saw (remembered) during presentation. The flow of facts about the file was enormous. I was wondering if the student already did that exercise before. But, I want to mention here something else. The first student was stuck with one dimension and the other looked like reading Anne-Marie’s mind map. That reminded me on my first session and the sessions I had recently. About bad feeling that overwhelmed me after (and during) first one and the feeling of being more comfortable now. And it’s not only about the feeling, the pressure. It is about how those sessions can help you to change the way you think, how you deal with your emotions and the way how you express yourself in a different ways. Micheal Bolton or Ilari Henrik Aegerter (who recently start to coach) would probably be the right persons to confer about Skype coaching. Maybe next time.

It was nice to met in person my colleges from various BBST classes: Ru Cindrea, Ray Oei and Christin Wiedemann. Did I forget anyone?

And finally TestLab. Each day I went to TestLab to interact with other testers and to see how the other testers test. I had opportunity to pair-testing with Rikard Edgren and Alan Richardson (aka Evil Tester). But, it is not possible to name all the testers who attended test lab (about 60 testers) and describe all the activities and interactions. So if you want to know more you can read what Martin Jansson (Martin and James Lyndsay were the test lab organizers) wrote about it.

The venue. All together, all the time. Conferring.

I joked at the end that Let’s Test 2012 is my best test conference and best Let’s Test conference ever. It is impossible to mention all nice fellow testers who made it the best.

At last the pricing. I paid for conference myself. And all I can say is – yes it is worth every cent.

The organizers. If you do not know who they are or you cannot recognize them on the picture, you should come next year. They already start preparing Let’s Test 2013.

I hope to be there next year too.

And thanks to Bill Matthews. I had a lot of discussion about testing with him during those days and especially on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning. He is mostly the one who convinced me to start writing.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Levente Balint permalink
    May 21, 2012 3:57 pm

    Hi Aleks!
    (can i call you Aleks? …anyway, I hope you don’t mind me shortening your name 🙂

    I don’t actually remember the exact steps I took to get to your blog but I’m glad I did.

    Your post proved to be an excellent starting point to piecing together what went on during the conference.
    The links you gathered will surely keep me busy for a while.

    Oh and it was really cool to see Alex and Oana in the first photograph. 😀
    (they are my colleagues you see…)

    Thanks, and keep up the good work!


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