Agile Testing Days 2012 – Day 1 – The birth of the #unicorn…

Still riding the high from the tutorial day, I arrived at the conference venue eager to get cracking with the days talks. The opening Keynote was “Disciplined Agile Delivery: The Foundation for Scaling Agile” presented by Scott Ambler. The general ideas behind the methodology such as not re-inventing the wheel, and being goal driven, not prescriptive in how you work certainly struck chords with how we are trying to work in my team. Scott made some interesting observations about how scrum is quite prescriptive and is this really agile?


I agreed with quite a few of his points on how what works for one team may not work for another. How a team works should be driven by context and reflection, not process and prescription. However was somewhat dubious about some of the statistics he rolled out towards the end.

However, out of this keynote was born something that was to transcend this one presentation. During the talk, Scott mentioned on more than one occasion “In the real world”, and at one point made reference to people living in the land of unicorns and rainbows. The challenge was then laid down on twitter for all speakers to include a unicorn in their presentations… and for the most part this happened! It became an identity for this years conference, and I’m sure something that any attendee will always associate with Agile Testing Days 2012!

Following this keynote, I attended “Going agile with Automated GUI Testing – Some personal insights” by Jan Zdunek from codecentric on the vendor track. My speciality is test automation, and in particular GUI testing, so this drew me to this talk more than the others. Thankfully, it was made clear from the very start that this was not peddling any particular product (even though it was on the vendor track), and Jan faithfully stuck to that. Most of the content was not new to me, but it was really comforting to hear someone else with very similar experiences to my own. In particular, things like how GUI testing is hard and is not a silver bullet; how record & replay is NOT a good thing to do (which drew a somewhat inflammatory tweet from an automation company when I tweeted that!).

Something that I have started hearing around the place, and has certainly been murmuring at work is to push more of the automation coding onto the developers. After all they are the coding experts. I agree with this to a degree, but I personally enjoy coding and find it very rewarding doing so, therefore I’d be reluctant to give it up. I think there are some better alternatives such as pairing with a developer. Lastly, Jan mentioned, almost in passing, that we should consider virtualisation for gui testing for covering configuration combinations. On my project we’ve been running our win32/.NET GUI tests in cloud virtualisation for a couple of years now… I really should write about that!

After lunch the second keynote of the day was by Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory,”Myths about Agile Testing, De-Bunked”. It started off well… with the two ladies donning Medusa style head bands whilst they disbanding several myths about agile testing! I got the impression that it was perhaps not as slick as they would have liked, but then Janet was suffering with a very sore throat so kept losing her voice. Nevertheless, the presentation was captivating, and they debunked several myths such as : “Testing is dead”, “Testers must write code”, “Agile teams always deliver faster”. I didn’t take many notes for this because it was being recorded, but unfortunately the recordings have not been posted yet so I’ll write more about this when they are.

The TestLab was held during a somewhat free for all time during most of the afternoon. It looked intriguing and proved to be one of the surprising experiences of the conference for me. Run by James Lyndsay and Bart Knaack, it consisted of a number of ‘stations’ that offered different testing problems. I opted for testing a mathematical drawing app call Geogebra, the task being to pair up and exploratory test it. After an allotted time, we discussed issues we’d found and decided if we wanted to continue ‘playing’ to which we all agreed! It was fun!

The last track talk of the day was “Developers Exploratory Testing – Raising the bar” by Sigge Birgisson. One of the teams at Red Gate have tried Dev or Team exploratory testing a couple of times, and I was really interested to go to the presentation that prompted that. I was not disappointed! Sigge gave a first class presentation, and not only explained what DET was all about, but also how to go about implementing it. Little tips like calling it a ‘workshop’ rather than ‘testing’ I can really see working!

Monday evening saw the presentation of the award for the Most Influential Agile Testing Professional Person go to a much deserved Lisa Crispin. The evening was great, with acrobatics, magic and music.

My Takeaway Triple from Day 1:

  • Some of the cool stuff that was suggested in the GUI Testing talk, we are already doing. I should write about that!
  • Testing is not dead! Perhaps testing will become more of a skill than a specific role, but it is certainly not dead.
  • Team/Developer exploratory testing… seems like a no-brainer assuming you have a team who is willing.

Day 2 – Coming soon…