Thoughts from TestBash 2015

I’ve just returned from the fourth TestBash conference. Each year it grows, getting better and better every time. A packed out conference (10 speakers!) and many social events make it easy to catch up with old friends, and make new ones too.

I kicked things off with the social event on Thursday evening. Sadly I hadn’t been able to attend the workshops during the day but there were plenty of people singing their praises over drinks. I had a whirlwind of catching up, beers, and a little bit of 99secondtalk prep with my fellow Weekend Tester facilitators Neil Studd and Dan Billing.

After just a few hours sleep, something of a tradition at testing conferences, it was run time! Once again there was a fantastic pre-conference run along the seafront. I love starting the day with a run, this year was an especially beautiful morning and we had a good turnout despite the early start. One of my favourite parts of the run is having 10 minutes or so to just chat with fellow testers completely uninterrupted. We run and we chat. Then we all dash off to try and get ready in time for Leancoffeebacon.

The conference itself had a fantastic line-up. Michael Bolton gave a predictably solid talk on language. A great reminder to actually say what you mean. Ian McCowatt was up next with a great talk on Bug Detection. He gave me the push I needed to pick up Harry Collin’s “Tacit and Explicit” book. I was also reminded of the importance of re-reading books. It’s so easy to get caught up in the endless of book list that sometimes I forget how much you can get from a book on the second, or even third reading.

There were great talks from Martin Hynie, Matt Heusser, and Stephen Janaway. There is still plenty of digesting of the ideas but it was fascinating to hear Martin’s experiences of the job title ‘Tester” actually limiting tester’s ability to get involved in projects. Stephen Janaway had some really interesting ideas in his talk “Why I Lost My Job As a Test Manager and What I Learnt As a Result”, the coaching menu was particularly interesting to me. I can see something like that being very useful on my team.

Vern Richards, and Richard Bradshaw both gave thought-provoking talks. Richard’s story of moving into automation only to find that he had “automated too many things” was really good. So many teams have the goal to automate everything. it was interesting to hear what happens if you actually succeed in doing so.

Sally Goble and Jon Hare-Winton demonstrated that it is possible to do a good double act. Maaret’s talk ” Quality doesn’t belong with the tester!” was a really resonating experience report. Being the only tester on a team is challenging and Maaret shared lots of ways that she tackled it. I really liked that she had talked to her team of developers about how they wanted to define testing. So often it seems testers want to name everything and tell developers how it should be done but developers do testing too, it’s just different.

Karen Johnson wrapped up the day (well apart form the 99second talks!) with a really engaging talk on asking questions. There were so many great ideas in this talk, and a number of interesting book references too.

All in all I have watched so many brilliant talks from engaging, interesting people. I have a list of new books to read and lots of thinking to do. I’ve come away from TestBash having seen so many friends. I’ve got a list of names of my new friends in my pocket and I feel inspired to get stuck in to some testing!

Thanks, Rosie and all of the TestBash speakers and organisers. It was an absolute blast. See you next year!


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