Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Scenes from the Inaugural Bay Area Software Testers Meetup

Sorry I'm late, but I was playing co-host for this event, and frankly it was just not possible to live blog and host at the same time.

The Climate Corp orb knows all :).
Last night, a couple dozen testers gathered together at Climate Corporation, had been and wine, some soft drinks, and a lot of conversations and made new friends. To fill this out a bit more, the Bay Area Software Testers held its inaugural meetup last night. As I've said in previous posts, I'm excited to see this group form and come together. It's been a long time coming, but we're here at last.

To celebrate the first event, we chose to focus the evening around "99 Second Lightning Talks", in honor of Rosie Sherry, she of Software Testing Club and Ministry of Testing fame (aka the original publisher of the "99 Things You Can Do to Become a Better Tester" eBook).

To not keep anyone in suspense, I did not make the 99 seconds (and I proved to be the only one, so my "perfect record" of just on time" delivery of lightning talks is now shattered. Ah well, had to end eventually ;) ). I covered the fact that of the 99 Things eBook suggestions, only about 10% of the topics were technical. 90% of the topics were non-technical and skills that many people could do without a major investment in technical skills, which I think makes for an interesting comparison. We see all of the talk around tools and technical skills, but the community seems to feel otherwise. Worth investigating, I think.

One of several 99 second lightning talks.
Curtis Stuehrenberg gave a talk about the fallacies that exist when we look at and deal with testing. Just because it's happened at the same time, doesn't mean it was caused by that (post hoc ergo proctor hoc), confirmation bias (we find what we are looking for, and ignore everything else), sunk cost (just because we buy something we think that we have to continue to buy into it to support the expense, when the expense has already been paid, it's done), regression patterns and the false leads they can give us, etc. Pretty good for 99 seconds :).

Another talk from  Fred Stevens-Smith was based around "building QA as a Service", either in using the concept, or in helping build the process. Fred is part of RainforestQA, which is developing this model where tests are written in "plain English", and then the service releases the tests out to crowd sourced testing (sounds intriguing, definitely something I'd like to explore as a Weekend Testing topic :) ). For those who want to see or know more, check out rainforestqa.com or +RainforestQA on G+ and @rainforestqa on Twitter.

Eric Proegler talked about two recent conferences (WOPR and STP-CON) and how the subject of technical debt came to be a recurring theme in both of them. His (highly rhetorical, I might add ;) ) question was, are only the old dinosaur traditional companies dealing with this, or are these hip, new Agile development initiatives immune from technical debt? that elicited a chuckle, but brought home an interesting point, which is, if we are not actively working to pay down technical debt or prevent it from accumulating, we are accumulating technical debt, and we all had better give some consideration as to how we are going to deal with it.

Another crowd source testing talk was given focusing on QA as a service. This whole "QA as a Service" thing may actually have legs, and it was interesting to see two takes on how organizations are making this work.

Our final talk was about how we view negative testing and the way that we talk about it. Using a simple example of a light switch, and asking how we confirm that there is both a passing test and a failing test, or that we neglect to see when the light is turned off as a negative test. It was a fun way to wrap up the talks.

A spirited discussion about metrics ensued.
From there we went into a discussion of "Metrics, or what do we really mean when we are asked for metrics?" This was prompted by Josh Meier, and we approached it from a Lean Coffee perspective and gave it ten minutes as a discussion topic, to see if we wanted to carry it forward from there (turned into a fifteen minute discussion, but with lots of great input and a hasty mind map from yours truly put up on the board).

We broke off into smaller groups, and I had some interesting chats with some new friends about how we approach automation, and whether or not it made sense to do so from the perspectives that are so common (UI testing vs. API testing, which makes more sense and why).

...and resulted in this mind map,
along with some good suggestions.
Finally, at the end of the night, a group of us who could stay out a bit longer on a "school night" made our way to Thirsty Bear to continue the conversation over beer and tapas.

Overall, I would say that the first BAST meetup was a success, and I want to give my thanks to everyone who I met lat night, thank you for coming out and helping us get this off the ground and we hope we made a memorable first impression. Now, of course, comes the next challenge... following up from here. 

Thirsty Bear for a post Climate Corp wrap up.
One thing Curtis and I are hoping is that we don't want to have this be strictly about testing, and we certainly want to keep this group tool agnostic. Wait, then what will this group be about? We hope to make it about ways that we as software testers can add value, and approach our space with a broader rather than a narrower vision. 

To that end, we are looking to get speakers from multiple perspectives and disciplines, such as marketing, finance, operations, sales, customer support, as well as software development and software testing. We will, of course, also look to share ideas and structure discussions around good testing practices and using them in the right contexts.

To close this, I want to say thanks to Curtis for taking the bull by the horns and getting BAST started, to Climate Corporation for providing us a great space to hold our first meeting, to the Association for Software Testing for helping seed this initiative with a grant so that we could hold this event and also help hold future events, and most importantly, thank you to all of the participants that came out on a Monday night to talk testing and hang out together. Curtis and I have long hoped to create a space where testers from around the Bay Area could get together and share ideas and knowledge from a number of different perspectives, and not have to haul down to Silicon Valley to do it. It's a great first step, and we look forward to many more to come.

No comments: