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Back to the Future - Agile Testing Days 2014

Kraków 30-XI-2014
ATD 2014 Exam

You have a picture. You’ve got one minute to see your picture. Describe all the things you can see in the picture and explain what you think is happening.

ATD conference picture

Ok, ok let’s just stop this exam right now, one minute is not enough time to finish this task… Why? Because Agile Testing Days 2014 was an AWESOME event! and I just can’t describe it in one minute. But the image attached above (made by our <3 Gosia) still will be pretty useful, because more or less it presents what I’ll remember from this year’s edition of ATD14.

In the background of the picture I can see the ATD2560 banner and a flying ship…..

Yep, ladies and gentlemen we are in the future. Why? Because the motto of this year’s conference was “The agile movement is thriving! How does it affect the future of agile software testing”. Opening keynote prepared by Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory was literally and figuratively related with the future, guess why:

Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory in Star Trek suites
Photo by Paul Carvalho

Star Trek anyone? The main thought of this talk was the hypothesis that ‘We can’t predict the future’. But Lisa and Janet gave us a few simple tips of how we can adapt to changes… become a shape-shifter to adapt to ever-changing needs! You can ask how can I become shape-shifter? The pattern for this is really easy… learn new skills, follow up on new technologies, constantly improve your communication skills and remember about quality of the product will still remain as the main part of our tester job. The ladies also touched on one thing which, over the last few years, I’ve been applying to my daily work: giving customers what they need, not what they ask for!  The shape-shifter skills listed before are pretty damn useful for the realization of this task. You need to communicate with the client if you want to discover what he needs, you need to understand his product, you need to present new technologies to the client and finally you need to deliver a high quality product for him set in business value reality.

The banner is placed on some kind of ancient Greek building…

So, you can ask so where are we? In the future or in Ancient Greece times. No worries we are still in the future, but David Evans at the end of second day reminds us that we should respect old, traditional testing values described as the pillars of testing. David on the stage raised and described a Testing Temple.

David Evans on stage
Photo by Ben Williams. PS. Look at the video from his talk too.

At the top of this temple we should place the product of testing: Confidence, which is supported by safety and courage. All of those things should be propped up by the stable pillars of testing such as: Stronger Evidence, Better Design, Greater Coverage, Faster Feedback. Each pillar represents a measurable, valuable quality of testing. Our confidence should be raised by getting Stronger – Better – Greater – Faster! Our temple was almost ready and all that was left was we just needed to lay the foundations. David decided to base the Testing Temple on three types of foundations: Team Foundations, Capability Foundations and Technical Foundations. At the very bottom part of this temple we should place Leadership and our Engineering Discipline.

The temple model presented by David for me seemed to be s sorting, organizing and a reminder of what testing is. During our daily work, activities it’s really easy to forgot about our testing roots, core values and sometimes you need to rebuild your Testing Temple. A really inspiring keynote presented by an exquisite speaker.

Someone is jumping out of the box….

The morning keynote presented by Antony Marcano who talked about “Don’t put me in a box” was a bomb!

Sketched diagram describing T-shaped peopleHow can you answer simple question such as what do you do?

Most of us describe ourselves with noun related keywords about our job, developer, tester, plumber, forester. Our nature is to put ourselves and others into ‘job title’ boxes. Valuation and evaluation based on job title is still something that still happens, same as calling people resources. Stop. Don’t do this, DON’T PUT ME IN A BOX! Because it gives the message that they can be thrown away. Don’t be a tester, coder, designer, don’t be a machine which is plugged in when there is work to do. Try become a T-Shaped person. And remember! Focus on performing and remember “(…) quality comes from people, not process.”

(…) and this guy is holding LEGO and TDD flags.

Paper card with questions about a house
Photo by Quality Engineering

And the (my personal) award for the best workshop goes to… Bryan Beecham & Mike Bowler! Well this time I’m a little biased. I LOVE LEGO so these two gentlemen had won this competition long before ATD2014 started, but during the 2 hour workshop they proved that they deserved it. During the first part we learned how to write TDD scenarios from scratch. On my table we tried to build a LEGO house, so:

  • and we have a ‘fully’ functional house!

Learning TDD using LEGO very well illustrates the process of building failed tests. The workshop hosts with subsequent exercises showcased, more and more aspects of TDD. The second part of the workshop was focused on refactoring. This part of the workshop was more directed to developers. Even though I am not working much with code at Lunar Logic, Bryan and Mike somehow caught my attention. The last part of this workshop was a kind of exercise on the scope of cooperation. Together with other workshop participants we tried to build: product →  container →  truck →  crane →  port. This exercise showed us how important communication and adapting to new requirements on all levels of building a product is. Even I learned a lot about TDD and refactoring, another lesson from this workshop was the recipe of how to run an excellent workshop. Good topic, charisma and… LEGO!

Yep, the image definitely describes the future, we don’t have robots nowadays, are we?

The Robots by Kraftwerk album cover

The last talk from Daniël Maslyn’s focuses on “Agile Testing for Future Robotics”. Daniël presented some potential paths of how Robotics can develop in the future and how Agile can shape the future of this science. Daniël asked some key questions about the future of testing. How we can adapt as agile testers to the Robotics industry? How will we test future: AI software, hardware frameworks, devices and complex scenarios for systems involving Robotics? This talk was a nice follow up to Lisa and Janet keynote from the first day, and made me realize once again during this conference how important it is to learn and absorb new technologies.

Conferences for me are more like recharging my batteries. I am looking there mostly for new inspirations and ideas, I want to learn there. After this year’s ATD I am fully recharged, but it’s time to come back from this future world and reconsider how I can prepare for what’s to come, and how I will discover myself as a …? Who knows :)

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