At the end of October I had the pleasure of attending the International Conference on Software Testing and QA in the wonderful city of Bilbao. The conference consisted of 18 presentations divided into seven thematic tracks, two tutorials, two special readings and three keynotes.
It was three days of learning, inspirational talks and, above all, meeting and sharing impressions with people from all over the world who develop the same professional activity as I, and this has helped me to understand the incoming challenges of the testing world, the current trends and a window to the future that this exciting profession offers us.
I was fortunate to be able to attend and participate in the vast majority of these talks, and I certainly learned something new in all of them. In this article I want to summarize the talks I liked the most and the lessons learned from each one. I want to send my congratulations to the organizers of the event for SQS and specially thanks to all the speakers for sharing their knowledge.
- Testing in Agile Contexts (by Federico Toledo)
Interesting tutorial about various aspects of the day-to-day work of a testing team. To begin with, how to implement the Agile working model in testing teams (Agile versus Waterfall), introduction to working with the Scrum model, how to prepare and take advantage of a sprint planning, which tests we should automate and which we should not, learning to establish priorities, the MoSCoW concept (Must be tested — Should be tested — Won´t be tested — Could be tested), what we mean when we classify a task as Done, possibilities and advantages of the Kanban whiteboard and retrospective meetings.
- Verification and Validation: What more? What less? (by Javier Bores)
A talk about the importance of having clear concepts of what is going to be tested and why we are going to test it from an early stage of the project. On many occasions we continue to find that the tester enters the final phase of a project after having passed through several hands before, and simply tells us “it has to work like this” so we discover, too late, required characteristics of the software.
In order to do this we need to understand who, how and what this development has been requested for, and the only way to understand it is to be involved in the project from an early stage and thus be able to have all the information.
- Validation Strategy Challenges in One Trunk Model-Based Projects (by Ariel Cymberknoh)
An interesting view on how testing projects can become complicated when we start handling several at once. Explanation of the OTM (One Trunk Model) concept, a branched model for software development as the only option for developing several projects at the same time, a feat that requires much more concentration and rigour than working from a single branch.
OTM requires special adaptations to the Mode of Work,
OTM imposes new challenges to the Validation teams,
OTM requires BUY IN from all business partners and customers.
- Become a Pro Tester Using Fault Injection (by Ali Khalid)
Special mention to this talk that won the prize for best paper. I had the opportunity to share ideas and lessons with its author, Ali Khalid. The talk covered basic concepts such as: definition of critical failure, areas we can test, the need to leave nothing out of scope and a special emphasis on changing the mentality that as testers we do not know — we want — we can touch code. If we already have the necessary knowledge, why refuse to do it if we know how to fix a bug? And if we don’t have it, we always have time to learn. Finally, a reflection about what we can cover by testing the front part and what we can cover if we persevere and get to test the back part.
- Tricky Cloud Infrastructure Experience (by Aleksandra Kornecka)
In this talk Aleksandra told us about her experience when her company decided to migrate its physical infrastructure (servers) to the cloud, what they had to test, how they did it and the failures / milestones they found. Review of the advantages and disadvantages that this migration offered, steps taken and lessons learned from this experience, from the point of view of the areas of testing, delivery, customer service, product manager and analysts. Once again we observed the importance of communication between different members of a team and between teams, and the need to read and understand the previous project documentation.
- Automation in Test Strategy (by Chris Schotanus)
The talk was based on a clear premise: “It is not always wise to automate a test”.
With his experience of more than 27 years in the world of testing, Chris explained why we need to have a testing strategy, that this strategy is more than a simple document with a few steps to follow. Chris also provided advice on whether or not to automate the tests, how to cover them and a key lesson: to use ATDD (Acceptance Test Driven Development) rather than TDD (Test Driven Development). This helps evaluators get involved in the design process for unit-level testing, which provides a solid foundation for other tests to emerge.
- Will We Call It Testing in 2030? (by Joel Montvelisky)
To finish, Joel proposed a wonderful journey through time in the world of testing from the early ´90s, through the current state and a door to what could become in the future. Main lessons learned:
Testing is evolving, based on a number of simultaneous factors.
Testing is and will be more about releasing quality products and less about finding bugs before the release.
Testing will not die, but it will morph and change, blending more with dev and other tasks in the team.
We need to be proactive pushing change and start adapting skills to evolve with testing.
I cannot finish this article without mentioning that the city of Bilbao captivated me from the first moment of my arrival. Bilbao is the heart of a metropolis with more than one million inhabitants. Its large and modern architectural and infrastructure projects have served as a motor for the urban and economic regeneration of the city. The Guggenheim Museum, the Palacio de Congresos y de la Música Euskalduna (where the conference took place), the Norman Foster metro, the Calatrava airport, the San Mamés football stadium… left me speechless. Situated in the Bay of Biscay, the city is surrounded by a landscape of forests, mountains and beaches that make Bilbao a privileged destination for visitors.
I could write much more about its “pintxos” and its fabulous gastronomy, but that will be in another article…