Agile Testing Days 2014–The #AgileTD Post

Second time around is even better. And much more fun. You know people, who know you. You meet new people, who want to share and talk and ask. Oh and there’s beer, more beer.

Thank you for all the people I met and re-met. You are awesome. You make ATD what it is.

It is now summary time. Let’s recap, shall we?

Keynotes this year were very good. David Evans gave an excellent talk about the “Pillars of Testing”, which continued to explain how agile and testing fit together. Antony Marcano’s “Don’t put me in a box” was an excellent show of how Antony made the role of the tester change by leading these changes (including glimpses of eXtreme Programming). Alan Richardson’s continued these lines, and bashing the term QA forever. And it was full of Transformers, Dr. Seuss, Pinky and the Brain, and Princess Bride, so what’s not to love?

Those were my favorite keynotes, and that latter two aligned with my quest this time around (not the one for beer, the other quest): What is really testing in an agile context? This is where two workshops helped. The first one by Huib Schoots about testing strategy. How does a tester approach an application? How is planning done, and what needs to be taken into account? Coming from development and developer testing background used to lead me to ad hoc testing. In system testing, a different point of view is needed, and I learned a lot from this workshop. That’s him by the way (that’s the normal situation):

Alan Richardson, Tony Bruce and Steve Green’s “Black ops testing” was also a step in the same direction – this was an actual testing dojo, where we paired on testing a web application. We could concentrate on whatever skill we wanted to improve, in a safe environment. My partner, Marine, focused on notetaking. I tried to follow in her steps, trying to learn how a tester’s mind works. I learned quite a few things, as well as tricks for creating data files for text boxes cutting off. This may sound stupid, but the ideas that you’ll need to validate text boxes for a while, and will want to speed this up, is a true quality of a professional tester. It’s a tool in her belt, just like developers carry (or may I say, should carry) TDD.

The final workshop I went too was Bryan Beecham and Mike Bowler’s “Lego TDD and Refactoring”. This was more developer oriented, although no code was written, and no Lego was hurt in the making of the workshop. If you ever get a chance to experience this, jump on it. This are Mike and Bryan:


There were quite a few genius ideas there, including explaining technical debt with Lego, and as you can see in the picture, extracting methods. Refactoring in Lego, who would have thunk?

Before there are RED blocks everywhere:

After extracting the RED method:

One more thing that resonated with me that the workshop was full. My “TDD Patterns” talk also quite filled the room. While testing is still in the title, I can see the merging of testers and developers skills continue, as slowly the distinction disappears.

What else?

George Dinwiddie’s excellent talk about the finer points in tests. He got me this TDD merit badge (plus, he has a cool wizard hat):

Marcus Ahnve talks about continuous deployment, dev-ops and wore an awesome T shirt:

Lean Coffee, which I helped facilitate  with Janet Gregory and Lisa Crispin in a crowded room. Shachar Schiff’s and Bob Marshal’s keynotes were also thought provoking, and Joe Justice’s almost sci-fi show (I called it the “I didn’t know scrum could do that” keynote). Lisa and Janet dressed up as Star Trek characters from a parallel purple universe (you had to be there):

An over-joyous #Table2 at the speakers’ dinner (which Oana Juncu can tell what actually happened). Tom Roden and Ben Williams’ version of “A Christmas Carol” (a cucumber was involved). There was a car that was built in less than a day. A Brazilian party (which was in hindsight was quite a clue about who was going to win the World Test Cup). Even I wore my costume:


Matt Heusser accepting the MIATPP award. The Agile Game night was full of learning and puzzle solving (I helped run that too with Pete George and made people feel comfortable with balloons, them picking them up):

And everyone singing along with Vagif Abilov an ABBA song as the curtain comes down.

Above all that – there are the people. Smart, nice, eager to learn and consume beer. Great intellectual fun. How much fun?

On the short, final night, I went out to Berlin with a couple of friends, and after eating a midnight Kebab, said my final rounds of goodbye to the people at the bar at 1am. As with the ATD spirit, when I came down to take my taxi to the airport, some of them were still there at 4:30am.

That’s the ATD spirit. No wonder it keeps breaking records every year – in number of attendees, quality, and events (Come on, building a car in a day? When did you last see that?)

Which brings me to the final point: The organizers.

Being currently part of a team organizing a conference (Agile Practitioners 2015, go register, it’s going to be just as awesome), it gave me a new point of view of how professional Uwe, Madeleine and Jose and their incredible team are. Last year’s was excellent, but when you start looking at the details, where the car parts were late, or working with sponsors, or just hanging with the attendees and speakers to make sure everything is fine. Everything just worked.

Madeleine told me that the trick to her job is to “make it appear as everything works”. And they have done a marvelous job again. I appreciate it even more now. Good job!

Did I mention the people already? Some of them. You can find lots of them on the #AgileTD thread. All of you: YOU ROCK!

Bye bye, Agile Testing Days, and thanks for all the beer!

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