2013 What a year to be in the Testing community!

So me and my girlfriend were sat having a drink in a popular coffee bar when we got onto the subject of what we have both been up to this year. I was quick to call upon job changes and conferences trips but after giving it some more thought, this has been an incredible year in which I have achieved a lot!

Conferences
TestBash, the link is for TestBash 3 which you should all click and register for now! But this was indeed TestBash 2 and it was excellent. It was my first conference solely dedicated to Testing and it didn't disappoint. The whole set up was excellent, the pre & post conference meetups, the talks were engaging and thought provoking was a really enjoyable day. I also got to meet lots of cool and interesting people, but we will get to that later.

The Selenium conference was my second conference of the year, while Brighton is nice this was in Boston, USA which turns out to be a really nice city. The conference was my first taste of a really big conference with attendees from all over the world. I had the privilege of attending all three days of the conference including the workshops, got to meet some people I had been following for a while and had some excellent social nights, which you can read all about here.

Those two were more than enough, but it didn't end there on the conference front. Thanks to the help of the majority of your reading this post, I won a ticket to EuroSTAR 2013. The conference was truly great 4 solid days of learning from a variety of mediums. Workshops, talks and of course the chit chat in lobby and lets not forget the pubs and bars. I haven't wrote up anything on my blog for EuroSTAR however I did write something for EuroSTAR so hopefully that will be published by them soon.

Training
Rapid Software Testing (RST) was my first training of the year by James Bach just before TestBash in Brighton. This is truly a great three days, you will have information overload during the three days but the really learning from RST comes in the following weeks and months and is still continuing today. If you any budget for testing training, please attend RST over everything else you will not be disappointed.

Rapid Software Testing for Managers (RSTM) was my second training of the year by Michael Bolton also in Brighton, its that damned Rosie Sherry making all these courses so accessible! This was a 1 day version of the course, have to admit it was a little squeezed but so much material and again as with RST the learning doesn't stop once you leave the room it continues, you want to continue looking into what Michael said.

London Tester Gatherings Workshops (#LTGW2013) this was an excellent two days of workshops arranged Tony Bruce and Skillsmatter, I have never attended a Skillsmatter event before but was truly impressed by the whole event. Great speakers covering a variety of topics, can't wait for the next one.

Exploratory Workshops in Testing
We hosted the first Midlands Exploratory Workshop in Testing (#MEWT) this year, which was my first introduction to the format of an EWT. Was my first real talk, so was a real learning curve, I didn't get the format right as I had slides, you live and learn, slides for a EWT talk, what a newbie!

Speaking
I am still yet to do what I would class a a proper talk yet, however this year I did get my first taste of talking in front of people. It started with a 90 second lightning talk at TestBash, where I decided to run around in a circle, crazy I know, but it did happen you can watch it here, about 5 minutes in. A side from running around in a circle there was a message which you can read about here.

Someone told me once you have done one talk, the rest are easier. Turns out this was true, but not only easier, you want to do it, you don't have to pushed and encouraged to do it. So when the opportunity for lightning talks came up at Selenium conference I jumped at the opportunity. There is also a video of this which I have added the post about the selenium conference I linked earlier.

Also as mentioned I did the talk at MEWT, which I later repeated at the Sheffield Tester Gathering which was awesome.

Testing Meetups
I started hosting #NottsTest and more importantly am still hosting NottsTest. It's really great meeting local testers regularly and can't encourage everyone enough to attend a meetup if there is one near you or start hosting one if there isn't! I also attended several Sheffield Testing meetups and one London one during the LTGWs.

People
I have been introduced to a lot of testers this year and had the privilege of talking to a lot of great testers on twitter and skype, however I have also met a lot of testers this year.

It would take me a long time to list them all and I would certainly forget somebody so I am not going to try, however I want to say that getting out there and meeting people is so valuable, the initial learning and conversations are great but building those relationships means advice can be just an email / call away, of course this can be done solely online, but I find face to face over a beer is a lot better.

But I am going to name a few people though, as these people have been a real help and inspiration this year, Rosie Sherry for her encouragement in setting up NottsTest and her continued support throughout the year, especially when I need a new notepad! Huib Schoots for his continuous encouragement and support. Stephen Blower for his support in attending EuroSTAR but for also joining me in the meetup journey and also attending them, not to mentioned him arranging some excellent Skype sessions.

2014
As you are aware from a few posts back, 2014 is going to start with a change for me which I can't wait. But in general I want more of the same.

My main ambition for next year to get talking at more events, be it smaller events in the UK but also some of the larger conferences. I am already signed up to talk at Belgium Testing Days and will be submitting proposals over the next few weeks for other conferences.

So here's to 2013, was a great year on the testing front and a big hello to 2014!!! Hopefully I will get to see more of the people I have been fortunate to met already plus those I haven't had the privilege of meeting yet.

Seek the challenges

I was watching the latest series of MasterChef the professionals a few weeks back and found myself relating to the chefs, in that they have voluntary applied for this show to test their skills, face difficult challenges, be challenged by the best, be critiqued by their idols/inspiration and in some situations seek a confidence boast.

"Chef, this is a great plate of food, but....." 

If you hadn't sought such a challenge you would probably be a bit deflated at hearing "but" and indeed some of them were, however the finalist didn't, they dined on the feedback, both positive and negative then used this to improve their future dishes.

Accepting praise and receiving criticism isn't easy, but you will never know it all, your learning will never be done, so seeking some feedback is critical to your learning.

I have observed an increase in testers seeking such challenges, I am one of them, but I feel more should. I missed out on such an opportunity during RST with James Bach in March, it was of course the infamous hotseat. I was scared, I didn't want to embarrass myself in front of James, yet alone a room full of testers. I was naive, all I thought in that moment was "no way, not a chance, he will eat me alive, good luck to the poor person he choices". Someone did do the challenge, they did an excellent job, James was impressed not all because they gave some great answers, but because they evolved throughout the challenge, they took on board all the feedback during the challenge then later used it in the challenge, what an incredibly opportunity. I intend to do RST again in the future for numerous reasons, but one of them is to get my ass in that hotseat.

But what about day to day, where can you get a challenge without being at an RST course. We are blessed to have a really active community in the Software Testing world, they're opportunities everywhere!

You can ask for them, lots of people are willing to provide them. James Bach was offering free Skype challenge sessions, you will have to ask him if he still is, but could be worth checking out. Miagi-Do has a bunch of great testers willing to give you a challenge. I have seen Stephen Blower running a challenge recently, have a look at that. However you don't have to go directly to people, I saw one tester recently, @Testowanie, asking directly on twitter and receiving three almost instantly, it’s that easy, more importantly I saw them tweeting about how much they were enjoying it.

Twitter can also be used to seek challenges in a slightly different way too. You can follow testing hashtags, I have recently added a column to tweetdeck for #testing, as you can imagine not all are relevant you will also see some very obscure tweets, however you will also see opportunities for a challenge. Someone tweets something you don't agree with, reply, challenge them, you will in turn be challenged back. Got an opinion on something, state it in a tweet, people are likely to disagree, if they do they will challenge you by replying, great learning.

Blogging, start writing about your thoughts, it’s a very challenging especially if writing doesn't come easy to you like me, I personally find it difficult to dump my thoughts into words, probably why I draw a lot, but when I do blog, I feel so good after it. Things become clearer and more concise for doing it, but the great benefit of doing it on a public blog, is others will read it, some will agree and some will disagree, it could lead to someone questioning your opinions but for me that’s a bonus as the challenge was writing it in the first place.

Speaking, this is something I am still very new to, well I say new, I haven't done one longer than 5 minutes, however I will be doing a 30 min talk at Belgium Testing Days in March, I can't wait. I see speaking as the next level up from blogging, it’s a big leap of course, but you are just presenting your opinions in a different medium. The big difference comes in that you are in the same room as your audience, which makes it harder, but also appealing.

Blogging and speaking aren't easy, it’s hard to openly share your thoughts and opinions, the back thought of being ridiculed, mocked or told you haven't got a clue will always be there, but it doesn't happen often in our community, people want to help you but more importantly people want to hear your thoughts and opinions.

I strongly encourage you all to seek challenges in your career, be it an actual testing challenge or a personal challenge to share your experiences and knowledge, you will learn so much about yourself and your confidence and skills will rocket.

There is a common joke about who tests the tests, well who tests the testers? The answer is you do, I do we all do, if you allow yourself to be tested.

A Big Change

Its with both sadness and excitement that I write this post.
These emotions are caused by a change, a job change, a life change but a change with mixed emotions.

Change

I haven't been at my current role for very long, only 6 months to be exact, but in those months I have had the privilege of working with some really smart people. The calibre of staff there is really high, I have learnt so much about software development in such a short time, which is down to them and the environment that has been shaped and allowed to evolve there. The environment really is something special, from the hardware and tools at your disposal, the relaxed but focused approach to work, the free fruit to the variety of sounds flowing out of the Sonos throughout the week.

Those are all great things, really great, but the real culture of Esendex is the company wide desire to continuously improve, it's visible from all the employees, but unlike some places I have worked, it also flows throughout the senior management team and board, because they are also employees, they sit with everyone, they talk to everyone they feel and encourage this mentality. More importantly they support it, training and an annual conference trip are provided, there is dojo time for the development team, monthly show and tells, lightning talks, your encouraged to get involved with the local and wider community, with local schools and universities, they really get what this support means to the employee. Yes of course it will eventually benefit the company, but I genuinely believe that isn't why they do it.

Esendex were recently voted "Ones to Watch" in the Tech Track by The Times, as a departing employee I will certainly be doing this, but not just Esendex I will be watching all the employees as well, because as I have already mentioned it's a really smart bunch of people with a real team feel and with the current push to share and gain at Esendex there will be some excellent posts flowing from Esendex in the future. I recommend you all follow @EsendexDev and wait for the gold (no pressure everyone :D ).

You're probably thinking 'why is he leaving? It sounds great!' It is indeed great and I honestly believe I could have real influence at Esendex and help them maintain and grow their culture and in turn the business. I would strongly recommend anyone looking for a challenging but rewarding place to work in Nottingham to get in touch with Esendex, you won't be disappointed. Esendex will be looking to fill my role, so if you're interested please do get in touch.

So why I am leaving? The great thing about life it is always changing, personal circumstances change, goals and ambitions change and sometimes you just get 'that feeling'. Sometimes you control this change, sometimes your just a passenger, its sometimes for good, sometimes not, but I believe that it's always good if you seek it. There has been a few personal changes recently that have led me to change my career plan. However, in being forced to think about such changes a new path and new goals have been created that I am really excited about.

Future

So the future is that I am setting up independently, a new long term plan is being created, in the short term I am going to be contracting.

Contracting can be a very rewarding move, (£$€ is what most of you are thinking right now) let's not bypass it, it's a factor, for some it's the deciding factor, it has played a part in my decision for one reason or another, but I am more interested in what the money allows me to do.

Obviously, life will hopefully be more comfortable, potentially bringing that housing ladder a step closer. Perhaps enjoy some of the nicer things in life, more travelling, nicer clothes, a car. But I haven't been earning poorly, so I don't expect much to change here.

Conferences, I have had the privilege this year of attending TestBash, Selenium Conference and EuroSTAR and I thank my previous employers for that, well a side from EuroSTAR... I thank my awesome video creating skills and the community for that one!
I love attending conferences, but I don't think it's the conferences I love, yes I do enjoy listening to talks and asking questions if there is an opportunity to do so, it's meeting people that I love. The conversations in the breakout areas, over lunch or in most of my circumstances the pub/bar are invaluable, you learn so much more there, but what you also do (depth breath for the sloppy part) is plant the seeds of future friendships, so the learning continues post conference.

Got carried away there, but I intend to use the fact that I will hopefully be earning more to support my desire to attend conferences, both as an attendee and increasingly over the coming years as a speaker.

Training, if you're not a "certification chaser" then there are some excellent training courses out there. RST, PSL, BBST and endless smaller workshops by individuals and awesome groups like SkillsMatter. These obviously cost money, but they also take time, but I am not talking about the time spent at the training, I am referring to the time taken to digest everyone you learn. The time agreeing, the time spent questioning your current believes with the material and the time spent discussing/debating with the trainer post the training.
So I certainly will be attending more training, but also this will allow me time to really studying what's in front of me, yes I want be earning money during this time, but it will be incredibly valuable to me.

Meetups, The Nottingham meetup #NottsTest isn't going anywhere as I will still be based in Nottingham; however, I could be working anywhere, if there isn't one there, I will make one. If there is one, I will attend it. Meetups really are great, get attending and hosting them!

Working Life, I have struggled to write this without making myself sound like I am easily bored or don't appreciate the people I work with or have. But one of the things I am looking forward to, is working with a whole variety of people, some where opinions align but I imagine a large number where they don't, this will indeed be challenging, but a great learning curve.

Another benefit I foresee is new technologies, majority of my experience is Web based and C#, this isn't a bad thing as it's very popular, but you can find yourself seeking such roles because you can do it and probably demand a premium for it. I can't imagine I will have the opportunity to pick roles on my technology skills, so it will be in my benefit but also personal interest to learn more language/stacks, but there will also be an increased likelihood that I will end up contracting at companies using other languages and being able to learn there.

Challenge

I certainly don't believe that any of the above is going to come easy, its going to be extremely difficult. There are going to be hard times and probably times when I will regret my decision. But needs must and to be honest I like difficult, I like challenges and I like new, so I will be giving my all to achieve all those things and more.

Apologies for the long post, but hopefully it came across that this wasn't an easy decision, but now it's made I intend to give it my all. Hopefully this will lead to to you all seeing more of me, meeting me and you never know working together.

Thanks to Simon Knight, Tony Bruce, Huib Schoots, Vernon Richards and Stephen Blower for all their advice and of course to Esendex for being so understanding.

Page Factory InitElements In Constructor

If you take advantage of the PageFactory support in the Selenium project then you may be continuously writing "PageFactory.InitElements(driver, LoginPage)" where ever you are initialising a new page object within your checks, it can get very repetitive depending on your application under test.

So, here is an easier way to do it.

You can initialise the elements within the constructor of the PageObject (PO) by taking advantage of the "this" keyword to refer to the current class instance, like so:



This will stop you repeating yourself in your checks and also remove the need for your checks to know about the driver, which I intend to write about in the coming weeks.

New Window With WebDriver

A feature of a specific web application is that you can set the account context for the page you are currently viewing, however this is for that window only and those settings aren't saved to the server.

Now if you are new to WebDriver you may not be aware that WebDriver doesn't have a defined method of opening a new window within the same session, it does support multi windows though, just no way of telling it to open you a new window. Note that WebDriver doesn't support tabbed windows.

So I had a problem, I really wanted to write a check for this scenario, where I open a new window change the account context, navigate back to the original window and ensure that the original account context is still displayed. But there is a way to do it!

If like me you will love keyboard short cuts, and there is one to open a link in a new window, not tab, window. This is Shift+Left Click (Works in IE, FF and Chrome), which lead me to think, can I achieve this in WebDriver, well I knew I could send the instruction but would the result be what I desired.

Turns out it was! So if you wish to do some tests when you require a new window within the same session you can achieve it using the following approach, using the "Actions" class from the Selenium project.



If your page doesn't have any clickable links, perhaps you could add one as an hidden element, and try sending the command to that, I haven't tried this but it could work.

Few things to note once you start using multiple windows:

  • If you operate in framework where you use the same session, to save time opening and closing the browser all the time, then ensure to close both windows.
  • If you close the second window, you will still need to tell WebDriver to switch the context to the only open window.

My Trip To Selenium Conference 2013

So last week I was fortunate enough to attend the 3rd Selenium conference in Boston, and what a fantastic time I had.

My trip started on the saturday from BHX with a flight via CDG, arrived in Boston and made my way to the hotel, to discover that my hotel had only been 'reserved' and not actually booked and paid for, fortunately was only 9pm in the UK and was able to get this resolved, whew!

Saturday night was a quiet affair, I tried twitter to see if anyone else had arrived, but no response so I decided to take a look around Boston by night, lovely place.

Boston, MA by night
Was looking forward to Sunday, as had made arrangements back in the UK to attend the Baseball game between Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Angels at the famous Fenway Park with a friend made at last years seconf.

I had never experienced a Baseball game before, but boy those americans love a bit of Baseball, I got the park 1h30min early and it was hectic everywhere! With some time to kill, I went into one of the many bars (IDed on the way in obviously, they ID EVERYONE!) and just minded my own business, but ended up talking to an old chap who explained the rules of Baseball to me, which I promtply forgot whilst watching.

The game itself was great, Boston won and we saw 6 home runs I believe, great atmosphere, although food and drink are not cheap! but its expected in stadiums.
Wonky Panorama of The Fenway Park
Me at the Fenway, with beer! Oh and Red Sox hat.
I had a fantastic afternoon but little did I know my evening was going to get better, arriving back the hotel, I saw Jim Evans at the bar and wanted to say hello, later followed by Marcus. A few minutes of friendly chatting went by and then Ivan De Marino turned up, followed by David Burns & Simon Stewart and they continued to come, I found myself surrounded by lots of seconf attendees but more importantly they were committers, organisers and sponsors, I was the only "odd one out" so I asked if they minded if I tagged along, they said sure no problem, I sprant upstairs to drop some stuff off, and rushed back, as really didn't want to miss this opportunity.

We ended up at a very fancy steakhouse called "Mooo", and wow was I in for a treat! and I am not only talking about the food, however the food was great!
16oz Ribeye at Mooo, Boston
I was sat at the end of a table with Jari, David, Stephen and Simon and it was so fantastic getting to know this guys, such interesting characters and I really did have a fantastic evening.
The bill came which was, lets say, larger than expected, but so so so generous of Facebook, Mozilla and two sponsors to cover the bill, was very very kind, so thank you!

So as you can imagine I was on a high before the conference / workshops had even started.

The Workshops
There were four workshops to choose from this, and I choose:-

Track Title
AM
A Appium Workshop: Hands-On Mobile App Automation
B Fix a Bug, Become a Committer
PM
A Get your Grid up and Running
B Help Us Rewrite the Official Selenium Docs From Scratch

So before I go into detail about the workshops and talks I attended I want to prompt you that I took to trying 'Sketch/Doodle Noting', I haven't actively done this before, I have always doodled but never actually thought anything of it.

I haven't studied this topic at all, however I find it really helps me remember the talks but also focus during the talks. I find the images act as the locator to the memories of the talk, but I intend to study the subject more.

Notes for all the talks I attended have been uploaded to twitter, I would load them all here, but the page would be come huge, so if you are interested in viewing them, here is the link to them on twitter, https://twitter.com/FriendlyTester/media/grid

Appium Workshop: Hands-On Mobile App Automation
The Appium  workshop was very hands on, unfortunately I didn't take a laptop too the conference this year, I just had an iPad, however I paired up with Matt Smith and he proceeded to follow the instructions.

There was a lot of prerequisites to download, which wasn't ideal but obvious hard to avoid with such a workshop, and several issues with OS's, but have to say Dan and the sauce labs lads with fantastic working the room to assist with issues.

But we did eventually get a test running on an IOS simulator, which was great!

But lets talk about Appium, this is a project which has been moving at a very fast pace, and the result is a very feature rich project, and relatively simple to use once all the prereqs have been installed.

I would go into details about all the features however they have been fantastically captured in a video by Dan, which he showed during a lightening talk on the first day of the conference, so I encourage you all to watch it, and see if Appium can assist you. "We're gona need a MONTAGE!!!!"


My notes for the workshop can be found here:

Get Your Grid up and Running
This workshop was hosted by Kevin Menard and I was really keen on this, as GRID is one of those things that people complain about a lot (including me!) saying that its flakey and unstable, but its not, its down to having a decent set up. Kevin started by explaining to us his approach used for managing GRID for his MogoTest product, along with all the various layers he has added to add more visibility into what is actually happening on the grid infrastructure.

Unfortunately for Kevin, we had some technical difficulties in following his tutorial due to bandwidth issues within the conference room, and potentially a bad package/mirror, however Kevin has said that when he gets some free time he is going to produce a video/online tutorial to show off all the hard work he has put into creating a stable deployment grid infrastructure. I encourage all of you to watch out for this, as it looked fantastic.

I would like to applaud Kevin though for still producing an excellent workshop considering his original plans were completely messed up by the bandwidth issues, however he continued to explain the theory and then hosted an excellent grid QA session, which I took a lot from, so the attendees asking questions would have too.

For me, I think the technical difficulties are actually going to be very rewarding for the community, if Kevin does post a tutorial everyone will have excess to this and be able to appreciate all the hardwork Kevin has put it, and the fact he is willing to share this is excellent.

My Talk
So at these years conference I decided to do a lightening talk, I had decided several weeks before that I was going to do one, and had jotted down a few ideas on the plane.

However when I saw the board to put your name down, I panicked, and had gone from super keen and up for it, to Hell No, I ain't doing that. But I DID!!!

If you are interesting in watching it, it was entitled "Production Monitoring with Selenium", this was a continuation of @lev_sha from #seconf 2012, I was also doing this then and his talk was the first I had heard of anyone else doing it, but it also stayed that way since, so I decided to do the same topic because I relaly do feel more people should be doing this.

I had no slides, as didn't take a laptop this year, just iPad, but I still think I was able to engage people. I did however fail to introduce my self, but its a learning curve!


The Talks
There was something to take from all the talks that I watched during the two days, so I would encourage anyone in automation to go and watch the videos which are now on the Selenium Conference youtube channel.

There was certainly a theme of patterns and factories, but some really do look promising.

Talks worthy of a special mention and a must watch for all interested in automaton imo are:
  • Is your Page loaded by Erik Jelinek, I haven't had this problem to much my self, but this looks like a nice pattern to follow.
  • Getting started with GhostDriver by Ivan De Marino, I hadn't realised how feature rich GhostDriver and in turn PhantomJS was, so this needs re-watching and more investigation.
  • Creating data for Functional Tests with the Test Data Builder Pattern by Alan Parkinson, again this is a problem most face, so looking like an interesting pattern to investigate.
  • From FirefoxDriver to Marionette – Mozilla pulls the strings by Johnathan Griffin & David Burns, some interesting things coming from Marionette, certianly worth paying close attention to
  • Plus you have to watch Jim Evans talk on the IE Driver, because he tells an excellent story.
For all interested in Testing, and most of you won't be reading this if you are not interested in Testing, you have to watch Noah Sussman's talk titled "Continuous Improvement", if was simply fantastic.

So if you have read all these, thanks! I really did have a great time at the Selenium Conference, and remember to say hello to people when you go to all the effort of traveling and attending conferences, because there is so much value to be unlocked by a simple "Hello".

I will leave you with a gallery of all my sketch notes and a few conference pictures can be seen below, please feel free to use this notes anyways you wish.
 

A Simple File Locker

I was doing a project that I will share will you all soon, and was running into an error whereby SpecRun was complaining to me that a file was locked by another process.

So I wanted to recreate this scenario and debug it to see what the problem was, so a quick Google on how to lock a file returned some strange results relating to securely locking a file with a password etc, a quick look on stackoverflow only resulted the code to lock a file.

So thought it would be quicker and simpler to write my own simple app to lock a file, and you can download it here (Click File>Download), its uploaded as a text file so you will have to rename to .exe in order to run it.

A few examples of where this application could be of use to you:-

  • Does you application write to a log file? If its threaded does each instance write to same file? Have the developer coded it to ignore locks? Use the app and find out.
  • Instance I had, several instances were trying to read and write to the same config file, was clearly a race and some instances lost and throw an error.
  • Upload dialog, see how your application behaves when trying to upload a locked file.
And no doubt lots of other uses.

Enjoy.


My First Nottingham Testers Meetup

So last night we had the rebirth of the Nottingham Tester Meetup, and it was fantastic, but lets start at the beginning.

I will be honest, at 6.55 there was 3 people including me in the room, and it was hard to not feel a little deflated / disappointed, but I learnt a valuable lesson:

QUALITY/PASSION > QUANTITY

But by 7.30, we had a room containing 5 passionate testers and 1 passionate recruiter (he counts, as he doesn't work like your normal recruiter, but off course still a recruiter :D ) and the discussions began.

Was great talking to everyone, finding what they work on, what they roles are, how many in their teams, what tools are they using, well you get the point.

I had prepared some slides, which I went through and we discussed in slide, the end result was some great enthusiasm for this meetup, and I really can't wait for the next one.

The slides are here, nothing fancy, just my ideas and plans for Nottingham Testers Meetup.



They were spawned from this mind map. Side note, mindmup is a great tool.

So thank you Stephen, Dan, Alex, James, Dave and Vernon for coming.

Feedback received:


  • Dan Caseley
    What an utterly great night. Spent hours chatting about training, mentoring, managing, checking vs testing, automation vs tools assisted testing, and a bunch of stuff already leaking out of my head. I'll definitely be at the next one!
    Like · Reply · 3h ago · Mute
    • Dave Rutt
      Dave Rutt
      Good meeting you Dan, and the others. Shame I had to leave early. Will make sure I'm there for the duration next time :)
      These meetups are FAR more useful and interesting than anything on the ISTQB syllabus :-p



The next one will be arranged soon, and will consist of two talks, details next week, however I want to leave testers of East Midlands with the following warning:

I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for dull passion lacking testers, I can tell you we don't have any. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a medium length career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you register interest in my meetup below, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and you will join my meetup.

It All Started With.....An ISTQB

There has been some excellent debate going on Twitter recently regarding ISTQB, its fascinating to follow, and clear to see the passion some testers / mangers have regarding the subject.

I also read Danny Dainton's blog post, and thought, I too will share my experience with ISTQB.

I took ISTQB (ISEB back then) foundation during my placement year at Lloyds TSB as a member of the "Regression Test Team". I got an email one day from HR stating that ALL the placement students were getting some training, and that this training consisted of 3 days tuition followed by an exam, well I was overjoyed, free training on a placement year.

I did some quick research and saw that this course was focused on testing, and from looking at job adverts, which was my main interest at the time, being a year from graduating, it was EVERYWHERE, and on the majority of adverts was listed as required/mandatory for applicants, so I was happy, and really looking forward to it.

Looking back I should of been sceptical at the time, as I later discovered that ALL the placement students were attending the training, this was like 15 people, with 10 in software development and the rest with accounts and HR, yet everyone was doing the training, it was like the bank were just trying to say that all there staff were 'certified', it certainly wasn't tailored to everyones needs, but obviously at the time as I said, it was free training, another line of the CV.

Well the training came around, and it was conducted by the least passionate person I have met, he introduced himself and handed us each a 150+ (cant remember exact number) page folder, and said turn to page 3, and then continued to read to us for 3 days...... the energy and drive in the room was non existent, wow it was dull, (especially having done RST recently with James) but I was reading, reading about testing, techniques and approaches, its hard to remember what else, as I have erased it all, but we will get to that bit, so I gave it my all, and tried to absorb it.

Then came the highly discussed exam, well I was bricking it, we were told if we failed we would have to resit at our own expense, but then to our surprise, he told us, I think, don't hold me to this figure, that we needed 40/70 to pass, which is around  57% it might of even been less, and that it was multiple choice! which relieved the pressure. Well wouldn't be much left to this post, if I didn't pass, and I did pass, I would have sent myself back to school had I failed.

Jump forward a year, and I graduate with a 2:1 in Computing, and think what should I do now, I really enjoyed my placement year, I got into Automation and really enjoyed the daily diversity that came with testing, so lets contact them I thought, "sorry Richard, IT is being off-shored to India", sad times.

So I applied to some graduate schemes like most do, but the competition was so intense, several rejections, couldn't even get an interview, so I thought back to that day I heard I was doing ISEB, and remembered all those job adverts I saw, so I did the same, and started applying to testing jobs, well I got offered an interview for all I applied for, agents were like "I see you have done ISEB", fantastic", in the end I have a pick of testing jobs to chose from, so it became, I was a full time employed tester.

However in the last few years, I have developed into a strong aspiring tester, is this down to ISTQB, well partly it is, yes, oh the shock of some readers, but its not because of the reasons ISTQB will state, like this advert, far from it.

Its because they existed, I don't know if there was others then, I certainly wasn't aware of any, but I only spoke to people within Lloyds. They had some how embedded themselves into the large organisations, because as we all know they love spending money on certifications, and then small companies think, well the bigger guys are asking for and offering this training, we should do the same and hire those with it. It was like well he has completed ISEB Foundation therefore he can test, get him it.

So I have mixed feelings on ISTQB, would I be where I am without it, certainly not.
Do I use anything I learnt from completing the certification, yes, but definitely not as ISTQB intended, its dated, its dumbed down, it mocks the skills and ability testers really need, so how do I use it?

Well that information is absorbed in me, and therefore needs replacing with new in depth knowledge on how I should approach certain aspects of testing, its going to be a long process, but I will get there, especially with the help of the community.

Future of ISQTB? Well unfortunately some companies in the UK (not sure about rest of the world) will always ask for it, and you won't get through the door without it, would you want to work for those companies, no, because your boss would likely be the ISTQB jockey you want to avoid. But don't threat, as things are changing, its being challenged, and being challenged aggressively, will they change? probably not, don't want to hurt the profit margins.

But there has been some really Mavericks in recent years in the testing world, I won't name them as I will no doubt miss someone out, and still all new to me, and spawned from them are some incredible talents, who are continuing there efforts alongside them, who in turn are aspiring more testers, who are currently in or will eventually be in positions to recruit, and being one of them, the letters "ISTQB" won't find there way onto my job adverts.

But if you reading this as someone who currently is looking for testing training, having just completed Rapid Software Testing, James Bach was my instructor, I can't recommend it highly enough, do you get a certification, no, you don't need one, will you be able to go and blow everyone's mind by telling them how you think and approach testing, certainly, will you be inspired to continue to learn, certainly.

Also hearing excellent things about BBST, which I hope to complete over the coming years.

But also train yourself, read, join sites like Ministry of Testing, Software Testing Club and AST, join twitter and gain the ability to ask questions directly to some of these mavericks, and observe their debates / discussions, and also try and get yourself to some conferences, the larger ones can cost a fair bit, but they are also smaller ones like TestBash, and with these comes evening drinks, and there is a lot to be learnt in those evenings!

So I personally am glad it existed back then, as it got me where I am today, however companies need to realise its value, which is very little, and stop requesting or sending testers on it, the alternatives are far superior, and for a separate debate, what value do certifications hold anyway, especially ones so easy to obtain.

Eurostar Competition

Hello Guys,

I have entered the Eurostar's "Gothenburg in 60 seconds" competition, and have made it to the finalists.

I would really like you votes, but would also encourage you to register on the Eurostar site, and watch all the other entries before voting.

Then once you have done that, get crawling through the vast amount of content available on the Eurostar site, there is some very interesting and informative talks from previous Eurostar conferences.

Here is my entry if you want to watch here.

So go vote!!!

Hey, I am a tester!

Hey, my name is Richard, I work as a software tester.

So, I just introduced my self to you, why, because I want to tell you what it is I do, but also to affirm you that I am proud of it, but to also plant the seed of "Testing: Richard" in your memory.

I would encourage you all to do this with everyone you work with and also your friends and family, why? Its quite simple, information. Whenever one of these persons hear something about testing in your company or if its a friend/family member hear something in the news, they will think of you, and might inform you of this information, they might not, but its a small process for potential huge reward.

Negative information could come your way, off course  but its still information, and would lead to you having the opportunity to explain why something happen, which in turn would educate said person even more on testing, and participially your skills.

They are also likely to talk to others about their interactions with you.

But none of this information would have been said, if you hadn't introduced yourself.
Also being forward about doing this, shows that you are passionate about your profession, your value your profession, and that you are proud to call yourself a tester.

Once you confident doing this within your company and friends and family, don't stop there, introduce yourself to testers online, there is a very active community of testers online, I would personally recommend:-
There are also several forums, but I started with the above, and haven't looked back since, yes sometimes there is information overload, but I would have that any day over little information, and if you listen to James Bach, information overload = nap, give your brain time to process it all, and we all love a nap.

So the above is what I tried to say in my 99 second talk at TestBash, however nerves got the better of me, but I felt I did make a few of these points, the video confirm, can't wait.....!

But I would have NEVER been stood on that stage, if I hadn't started telling people that I am a tester, and that I love testing, and want to talk and discuss all things testing.