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Testing Thank You's for 2016

I want to close 2016 with some thank you's to people who have helped and influenced me this year:

Leeds Testing Atelier and Crew - organising not one but two Ateliers this year has been an absolute blast. The days themselves are great, but I value the company of six other like-minded people, who are dedicated to sharing knowledge and making life a bit better. Independent, not for profit but for joy. It, by some distance, has made 2016 a year to remember. Thank you for the laughs, hangovers and friendship.Ministry of Testing - I had the privilege of delivering a workshop at TestBash Brighton this year. Not much makes me nervous, but delivering my content at such an event certainly did. As an individual achievement, it made me very proud indeed. Then the year got better, I then presented an infrastructure masterclass in October. Thank you for the opportunities and support.Gus and SpeakEasy - I reached out for help from SpeakEasy this year and Augusto Evangelisti kindly volunteered to…

A Lone Tester at a DevOps Conference

I recently had the chance to go to Velocity Conf in Amsterdam, which one might describe as a DevOps conference. I love going to conferences of all types, restricting the self to discipline specific events is counter intuitive to me, as each discipline involved in building and supporting something isn't isolated. Even if some organisations try and keep it that way, reality barges its way in. Gotta speak to each other some day.

So, I was in an awesome city, anticipating an enlightening few days. Velocity is big. I sometimes forget how big business some conferences are, most testing events I attend are usually in the hundreds of attendees. With big conferences comes the trappings of big business. For my part, I swapped product and testability ideas with Datadog, Pager Duty and others for swag. My going rate for consultancy appears to be tshirts, stickers and hats.

So, lets get to it:

3 Takeaways

Inclusiveness - there was a huge focus on effective teams, organisational dynamics and splitt…

Leeds Free, Independent, Punk Testing Atelier

Tuesday the 20th of September 2016 marked the 3rd iteration of the Leeds Free, Independent, Non-Affiliated, and quite frankly pretty darned Punk Testing Atelier.

About 100 attendees, 6 speakers, 4 workshop facilitators, 8 panel guests, 2 panel facilitators and about 10 brave presentation karaoke volunteers. Lots of active involvement if you want it, observation for the passive, without judgement.

There are 7 co-organisers too. We are all different in different ways, gender, nationality, background, with the common factor of being enormous dorks. At the end of the day I paid tribute to our ingenuity, resourcefulness and enthusiasm for creating such a day for all. Every word was meant.

Our beginnings are humble, so remains our intent. We aspire to give voice to those interested and (inevitably) affected by testing, primarily in the thriving technology hub of Leeds. Especially to those who wish to find their voice. They often have the most interesting stories to tell, their first appearance…

What if information isn't enough?

One of my aims for this year has been to attend/talk at what I will class for the purposes of this blog as 'non-testing' events, primarily to speak about what on earth testing is and how we can lampoon the myths and legends around it. It gets some really interesting reactions from professionals within other disciplines.

And usually those reactions (much like this particular blog), leave me with more questions than answers!

Huh?

After speaking at a recent event, I was asked an interesting question by an attendee. This guy was great, he reinvented himself every few years into a new part of technology, his current focus, machine learning. His previous life, 'Big Data', more on that later. Anyway, he said (something like):

'I enjoyed your talk but I think testing as an information provider doesn't go far enough. If they aren't actionable insights, then what's the point?'
This is why I like 'non-testing' events, someone challenging a tenet than has be…

A Personal Model of Testing and Checking

As part of the whole CDT vs Automators vs Team Valor vs Team Mystic battle, one of the main sources of angst appears (to me) to be the testing and checking debate.

The mere mention seems to trigger a Barking Man type reaction in some quarters. Now I enjoy someone barking like a dog as much as the next person but when discussions around testing resemble the slightly grisly scenes in Cujo, we've gone too far. To me, the fallacy at play appears to be "you strongly advocate X therefore you must detest Y." Stands to reason right, I've got two cats I love very much, therefore I cannot stand dogs.

Anyway, I like the testing and checking model. Note the use of the word model. I really mean that, it helps me to think. It helps me to reason about how I am approaching a testing problem and provides a frame, in the form of a distinction. More specifically a distinction which assists my balance.

I've added it to my mental arsenal. As all good testers should do in my eyes with a …

In the Danger Zone

Kenny Loggins said it best.

Last night I stepped right into the 'danger zone.' I attended a roundtable on testing arranged by a recruitment agency, surrounded by big financial services test management and even those representing 'big' consultancy, amongst others. I would not usually attend something like this to be honest, out of my usual bubble.

I have endeavoured this year to talk about testing at a range of events, whether they be non testing specific or as this occasion, an event which is outside of the sphere of my usual haunts. One of my prevailing feelings after a TestBash (for example) is that it was great but for the most part confirmed my world view.

Three questions were posed.
What is the value of a tester?What are testers accountable for?What is your opinion on the future of testing?I thought I would note what my response was for each. Here it is:



Also, for download:

http://www.xmind.net/m/YuK2

As there were three questions, I'll note my three takeaways f…

Tester in Development

After I shared this on Twitter a little while ago:
Having 'Developers in Test' is often an anti-pattern for not hiring 'Developers WHO VALUE #testing', great read. https://t.co/jcNg12d1ct— Ash Winter (@northern_tester) 18 April 2016
I got to thinking about the 'Developer in Test' pattern which has gained in popularity over the last 15 years of my testing career (but probably existed way before that), so here is my expansion on the point. 

Who in their organisation has one (or many) of these?
Technical TesterDeveloper in TestSoftware Engineers in TestSoftware Development Engineers in TestSoftware Engineers in Test Levels One, Two and Three
* Note 1 - As a sub pattern, it seems that the job title for this pattern has got longer over time, although I am being a little naughty with data. However, a would it be the first time a (sometimes) badly defined job got a lengthy title to give it some credence?
** Note 2 - I have never heard of a Programmer in Test. Let me know if…

By the community, for the community

I was going to write a blog about the various activities we participated in on a fantastic day at the Leeds testing community's second Atelier. Trust me they were great, but a comment I received the day after intruiged me more. An attendee said to me:


After the conference yesterday, I realised that "what are testers?" is a much more interesting question than "what is testing?"
I dug a little, asked for the deeper reasoning:


Well, it's event like yesterday where you see testers are a far more diverse bunch of people than any other field of IT I can think of.
I was knocked back, I believe this was what we wanted to reflect with this event all along.



When I consider, we chose a venue which reflected our values. Wharf Chambers, a workers co-op which is run with fairness and equality at its heart. Every comment received was that the relaxed atmosphere enhanced the event, people happily participated, asked questions. For me, much better than a hotel, auditorium or mee…

Scale Panic

Cast your mind back. 

The last time you were exposed to a new system how did you react? Was it a time of hope and excitement? Or of anxiousness and nagging dread? If it was the latter, you may have been suffering from something I like to call 'scale panic.'

First up, let me define what I mean by this in a testing context:
'When a tester first encounters a new system they need to understand and evaluate, the cognitive load from understanding the parts, interactions and boundaries is too intense. The tester often enters an agitated and slightly disgruntled state of paralysis for some time after scale panic has taken hold.'The subsequent testing approach and effectiveness can suffer as the appreciation of the big picture means crucial context is often left undiscovered. So, why does this phenomena occur I hear you ask. Well, every situation is different of course but I believe it is centred around a key trait for a tester, awareness. To clarify, let's decompose:

People Aw…

(Almost) Total Recall

Alas, this blog post is not about Arnold Schwarzenegger's classic film. And it's certainly not about Colin Farrell's ill advised remake. Leave my childhood favourites alone now please. It's about how small devices to aid your memory can change your testing outlook. You won't be a secret agent (if Quaid/Hauser ever was) but happily you won't have to extract tracking devices from your nose so you don't need to wear a wet towel on your head (if Quaid/Hauser ever did). Anyway, time to get to the chopper (I know)...
When you hear the crunch, you're there...
Test strategies, plans and policies are such a loaded terms nowadays. Some testers pine for the days of the weighty documented approach, some have little strategy and rely on their domain knowledge alone. For me, I prefer a third (or more) way, enhancing my toolbox for the context I find myself in.

Open your mind...

Mnemonics might be an approach to help with consistent, rigorous thinking about what will b…

State of Testing Survey 2016 - Get Involved!

Big Picture

Organisations and individuals often attempt to capture the state of the testing craft. 

Whether using a limited dataset (their organisation/group of organisations/their clients), or more anecdotally as an individual ('this is what I think the state of testing is, based on what I see and feel'). I, for one, would love to see a more holistic picture of what testers think about testing.

Snapshot

As testers we should be able to report the status of our testing at any moment, I think we should be able to do this on a wider scale. The State of Testing Survey 2016 is an endeavour which will attempt to capture the snapshot of said state, and hopefully build up a dataset over the next few years which will show us how we as a craft evolve.

Get Involved!

Anyway, time for the superliminal message:

STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND COMPLETE THIS SURVEY RIGHT NOW!

(If you don't, people will read the 'World Quality Report' and believe that instead. I don't want that. You don…