Whew! That was a seriously busy five days. From early Sunday morning (being dropped off at the airport at 6:00 AM) until Thursday night around midnight (when i finally landed and got picked up at the airport), for all practical purposes, I had the experience of eating, drinking, breathing and sleeping nothing but software quality talk.
I live blogged four of those days, and a lot of that still needs to be cleaned up, but some interesting things came out of those sessions and conversations, many of them totally serendipitous and unrelated to any of the actual sessions.
What started as a simple paper proposal a number of months ago has now become an all encompassing goal of mine to pursue and discover more about. A sideline topic and little takeaway that I had said could be a cool by-product, via multiple discussions, turns out could be a huge change in the way that testers actually approach automation and the benefits we can derive. A poster paper that was used to help me make the main points of the way that ATDD, GUI Automation and Exploratory Testing fit together now hangs (I believe) in an area at IBM, where one of the conference participants said that those ideas were really powerful, and would greatly inspire her team.
These are the factors about conferences that never really make their way into experience reports, or the talks that people have afterwards. Some of the best takeaways I had this week were during my poster paper interactions, or during side conversations after the fact or between sessions. They were discussing ideas at lunch, or while finding a Fijian food truck up near Powell's books. Those are the thoughts and comments that have been really resonating with me.
In many ways, we don't go to these events and get our world rewired in one fell swoop. More often, we get a fresh appreciation about something we are already doing, or we discover something we thought we were doing, but on further reflection, realizing we were not, or at least not as well as we could be doing. Most important for me was the fact that I had a chance to connect with my tribe, the tribe of professional software testers, and do so in an environment that is not just us, or where I'm the odd man out at a specific technology conference. PNSQC draws many people interested in software quality together. Many are testers, many are developers, and the nice thing is that this environment is much less "us vs. them" and more of "how can we all help each other do better work and make better software?"
For this, and for many other things, I thank you, Portland, and all who came to PNSQC and ATONW. Thank you for your thoughts your insights, your humor, your horror stories, and the gentle reminder that, while for many things, it's not just me, for a few things, it is just me! The good news, for those areas where it is just me, I've learned a number of new ways to deal with them. That spells out a successful week in my mind.