Better Software Conference EAST

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From learning about how to protect testers from desperate development teams to a motivating keynote about achieving ultimate goals, Better Software Testing East in Boston, MA had a lot of takeaways.

Simply put, this conference was a bit more technical than the other conferences I attended this year which was actually a breath of fresh air. I do enjoy the philosophies behind testing and the hearing those conversations and debates at the STAR conferences, but getting down to the nitty-gritty is what really gets my blood going at the end of the day.

I was particularly motivated by Iris Classon’s keynote about how she became a professional developer in about three years. It was a story of finding one’s self and climbing out of the slump of mediocrity into a fulfilling career of software development. Yeah sure, we’ve heard it all before, but what’s different about her story of survival and driving a road to full enlightenment is that she wrote out everything that got her to that current point on—that’s right–index cards! Each card consisted of a single task she had completed to move closer to her goal over the years. At first I thought, “She has way too much time on her hands,” but those index cards actually ended up holding a lot of value.

Each index card was but a single accomplishment, but by combining those single accomplishments into categories, those cards came together to form a higher level meaning about time management, staying healthy, and building other fundamental skillsets. I felt that everyone in that audience really could relate to where Iris was coming from, because those categories she came up with are probably close to what everyone else would come up with categorically. Maybe we would come up with one unique category for ourselves? Not sure, I’ll have to test it out at some point.

As for the sessions, the one I found most interesting was Bill Wilder‘s session about using the cloud to test and develop applications. I’ve never worked in the cloud except for setting up game servers for Minecraft and DayZ with Rackspace or using my friend’s FTP, so learning how I can actually build and use a virtual environment in the clouds by the click of a few buttons got me thinking of all the fun I could have testing and developing in the cloud. Call me out of touch if you’d like, but I’ve always done work on my PC and never really considered the benefits of cloud computing. It’s a very viable option that seems to becoming a better solution as we move forward into the 21st century.

Another session that got me thinking was presented by Brenda Kise about continuous automated regression testing. She presented how she structures her testing team filled with manual and automated testers. How she protected her testing team from the needs of the developers was interesting to say the least. For instance, a development team is developing a product in Python and is in need of more help as they get closer to launch. A development lead realizes that one of the testers knows how to code effectively in Python, so they may pull that tester into the development team for the extra help.

This is why Brenda said she would have testing teams that create automated test scripts in different languages than what the developers were coding in. It allowed her to protect the testing team in these types of situations. It’s not that testers don’t want to help developers, but the testers have a job to do too and “stealing” testers to work for the developers can potentially be disastrous for the testing team, especially when they don’t have the necessary resources to give up.

I had never attended this conference, but as I said earlier, I was quite surprised by the amount of content. It seems that I might just have to visit again next year.

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