Thursday, February 21, 2019

European Testing Conference 2019 - Designed for Us

Last year I got selected to speak at European Testing Conference together with my learning partner, Toyer Mamoojee. It was such an inspiring experience that I knew I had to come again in 2019. And yet again it was amazing!
For this edition I was joining the conference as participant - nothing to do for me than learning together with great people of many different roles and perspectives, all interested in testing. After speaking at many conferences this was a really relaxed experience that I really enjoyed for a change.
Here are the sessions I attended, including my sketchnotes.
As always, I tried to get the most out of the event, not only attending all session slots (I felt I also had the energy to do so), but also making good use of the breaks to talk with people old and new, and of course using the time after the official program was over. After experiencing a lot of conferences during the last few years (a lot more than I ever imagined, thanks to my speaking challenge of 2017), I learned that the unofficial socializing part of a conference is usually the most valuable time spent. Attending sessions is great and a good learning experience, and yet exchanging knowledge and new things learned with my peers is unbeatable.

The great thing about European Testing Conference is that they design the conference so that plenty of these kind of informal learning opportunities and networking chances are available, the space for that is created by intention. You only have to seize the moment! To get further impressions about this very special atmosphere, check out the following links.
One conference was over, and the next one started! I felt really honored and lucky to get the opportunity to attend #ET19 just the day after European Testing Conference. This was my very first peer conference, and also one about a topic very dear to my heart: exploratory testing. For now, I can only say so much: it was great, and it was a lot to take in! I still have to process everything. In the meantime, check out Marianne Duijst's awesome #ET19 sketchnotes.
Last but not least, here are some of my favorite #ETCmoments of 2019! I'm already looking forward to the 2020 edition of European Testing Conference!

Thursday, February 7, 2019

#CodeConfident: Serenity Cucumber Practice

As announced, I plan to publish my coding journal for each GitHub repository I create within my #CodeConfident challenge. I've just finished the scope of my first challenge, so here are my related notes; as raw as they are, in chronological order. My hope is that they will serve three goals.
  1. Act as learning journal for myself, making my learning journey visible helping me acknowledge what I achieved
  2. Provide context for anyone who would like to check out my repository and maybe provide feedback and support
  3. Potentially provide a source of learning and inspiration for anyone else following my journey
Here's my journal for my first GitHub repository serenity-cucumber-practice. Want to provide feedback on it or pair up with me on further challenges? I hereby call for collaboration!

January 13

  • start from Serenity Cucumber starter project (https://github.com/serenity-bdd/serenity-cucumber-starter)
  • set up remote Chrome running Docker  
  • install TigerVNC for Windows 
  • revise scenario 
  • adapt step definitions -> still successful (gradlew clean test aggregate) 
  • create first page object and try to open it -> not compiling, packages to import "don't exist": "error: package net.serenitybdd.core.pages does not exist" 
  • TODO: fix issue

January 14

  • followed instructions to have page objects in main>java, which resulted in lots of fruitless searching why I got a "error: package does not exist" and the class and import could not be added to the classpath by IntelliJ; tried lots of things until realizing the resolved dependencies are shown in External Libraries for each module in the packages sidebar (always checked in the projects view); move of page object to another place solved the issue
  • "error: package net.serenitybdd.core.pages does not exist"  -> realized it has to be in test as only there dependencies are resolved by gradle build  
  • Selenium Grid setup in Docker is working as usual  
  • TODO: Clean up and do first minimal commit

January 15


January 17

  • generated SSH key and added it (all of https://help.github.com/articles/connecting-to-github-with-ssh/) -> worked like a charm, IntelliJ saves passphrase
  • discovered https://desktop.github.com/ -> could delete old branch via UI
  • first version of add item to cart scenario
  • cleaned up a bit
  • revising package structure: learned I need to put everything into one custom package, otherwise test runner fails
  • TODO: improve first scenario, then implement second

January 20


January 24


January 26


January 29


January 30

  • cleaned up branch
  • split different test version into methods to keep code for feedback and be able to switch between them easier
  • none of them is working, need feedback
  • TODO: implement 2 other scenarios on master to finish scope and ask for feedback

February 5


February 6

  • several potential scenarios to try
  • tried to go for categories; stumbled across finding a good selector for menu element, was not interactable
  • switched to extend the search feature by further scenarios; added view product page
  • tried to add view product preview and again element was not interactable; found I was using the mobile site not the website for locating it!
  • learned how to use actions to mouse over the element then the next element is interactable
  • learned how to switch to an iframe (https://www.guru99.com/handling-iframes-selenium.html)
  • merged latest master into branch
  • TODO: write blog post with learnings, ask for feedback

Calling for Feedback

That's it so far, good enough for now! Your feedback is appreciated.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

#CodeConfident: Getting Started with My Challenge

As soon as I made my challenge for 2019 to become code-confident public, I started thinking about how to tackle it. Drawing on the lessons of my past challenges, I created a Trello board to brainstorm and make things visible. From that starting point until my very first GitHub commit it took me quite some time. On the one hand I was facing other challenges at the same time and I still cannot fully focus on coding yet. On the other hand I honestly did not know how to get from a few familiar first steps to starting for real; and yet things evolved and finally all pieces fell into place.

Kicking Things Off

At work, we started out some months ago revising our legacy test automation through the UI in an incremental way. As it's work related and confidential I can only share generic lessons. Nonetheless, the frequent pair programming sessions are continuously increasing my confidence already, plus I get the feedback I desire to improve.

Still, kicking off my public learning journey was not that easy for me. Starting from my Trello board I added several lists. I brainstormed potential challenges I could tackle, courses and other resources to learn or get inspired from, people that might provide feedback or potential pairing partners, practice sites and last but not least my next todos.
As Calendly turned out to be massively useful when it comes to inviting people to pair up with me, I added a new event there. I read a bit more about licenses and how to properly use them when starting on GitHub. And I read really inspiring posts!

Then there was nothing left than the scariest task so far: decide on the first small challenge and start. I got stuck on that one for a while. Originally, I planned to finish another challenge I have and only afterwards start my coding challenge. However, this way I would have abandoned my challenge for several months which did not leave me with a good feeling. So I decided to mix things and follow my energies when it comes to deciding what to work on right now.

When really considering actual challenges to start with, I realized how comfortable and convenient it would be to just follow the guidance of a course instead of having to make decisions on my own and deliberately wander into the dark. At the same time I already presumed I would learn more by exploring.

Then I realized that defining a fixed scope and setting concrete goals for myself when to stop one coding challenge and move on to the next one was crucial for me to get started at all. My whole challenge is not about perfecting things or choosing exactly the best approach, the goal is practicing and this way eventually becoming more confident when coding.

And finally: If I would start with something I was more familiar with it would be less scary. I mean it would be scary enough to put something out there publicly, right?

This finally freed me up! I picked my first challenge. I made my first commit on my very first public GitHub repository. I nearly did not dare to celebrate it - and then still did it anyway the next day. Didn't regret it so far.
I haven't made much progress on my first coding challenge so far yet, and still I received lots of really encouraging feedback. Thank you everyone who supports me here! It means a lot to me.
Something came to my mind while setting everything up. Many people recommend to spend your time and energy and focus on working on your strengths, not on reducing your weaknesses. I feel more and more that my strength is being a generalist who can fill the gaps. Considering that, I'm indeed working on strengthening my strength right now. Even more important: I'm feeling good about it.

Coding Journal

When designing my challenge, I deliberately limited myself by defining pause and exit criteria for it. Therefore, I wanted to keep track of them early on. As they were depending on calendar weeks, I came up with just creating a new Google calendar and adding a new entry every time I managed to keep going with my challenge by granting myself free time to play a non-casual computer game. As I used Google calendars a lot already, this was a fast, easy and convenient way for me to get the quick visual overview I needed for monitoring.

After doing so, I realized I could also keep track of when I am actually working on things and document what I learned today, what were the next steps to go, and so on. So I added these to the same calendar as well. Yet again, doing one thing triggered another idea.

One of my goals was to spend less time writing lengthy blog posts. They were really valuable for me last year, this year, however, I wanted to use more time to work on hands-on challenges instead. Still, I'd like to preserve my lessons learned for my future self. My first reason why I blog is for my own learning, and only the second one is sharing my learning journey with the rest of the world in case someone cares. So I decided to try out a lightweight approach this time: For each GitHub repository I create, I plan to blog about what I learned on my way as sort of coding journal. Just the raw notes as they are, in chronological order. They might not be easy to follow for readers this way and yet will depict my learning journey as it went.

Only recently I came across a great blog post by Amy Williams about why you should keep a code diary and it clearly reflects my intention here. Give it a read and see for yourself.

Keeping Going

I'd like to spend a bit more time and go a few more steps on my own, then I'll call for collaboration and invite for feedback and hands-on pairing. Also, I hope to be able to focus more on my coding challenge from March on as other things will have been clarified until then. Well, that's at least my hope; I never know what might wait around the corner that will make me adjust my plan.

In conclusion, the challenge is clear. I can only grow more confident by practicing more. The good thing: I have the capacity to practice during my free time and the opportunity to practice at work as well. I consider myself lucky and I'm eager to make good use of it.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

2018 - A Crazy Year in Retrospect

What a year. It was crazily busy and yet incredibly awesome. Here's my end-of-year review of all the great things that happened in 2018. Time to celebrate and take a deep breath!

Timeline of 2018

If it's scary, do it more often, right? Like releases? As you can see below, this wisdom applied to both my public speaking as well as my pair testing challenges as well.
  • January
  • February
    • I joined our company's newly found Tech Chapter, a cross-team structure to drive technical topics on a global level.
    • European Testing ConferenceToyer Mamoojee and I told our story how we became learning partners. In addition, this was our very first paired talk!
  • March
    • I created the concept for the first tech conference of my company, the FlixTechSummit, and started putting the plan into practice together with a group of wonderful people across tech. 
  • April
    • Mob Programming Conference: I got invited to facilitate two mob sessions and visited the US for my very first time.
    • DevExperience: This developer conference added a new testing track and invited me as speaker.
    • My product team implemented and achieved a zero defect tolerance policy and has adhered to it ever since.
    • I introduced two other product teams at our company to the mob approach.
  • May
    • I wrote my first post for our company's new tech blog about my story as first-time conference speaker.
    • Toyer Mamoojee and my extended pact group kicked off.
    • I mentored people on public speaking for the first time.
  • June
  • July
    • I got promoted to "Principal", which is the next seniority level after senior in our company and comes with working on a global level in addition to the work in our product teams.
  • August
    • CAST: I shared the lessons learned on my testing tour and inspired others to go on their own tour. Also, I introduced further people to the mob approach.
  • September
    • SwanseaCon: I got selected again to speak at this wonderful software crafter conference, sharing my testing tour lessons here as well.
    • TestBash Germany: I started my sketchnoting experiment, inspired by Marianne Duijst. I did sketchnoting at four conferences now, and I can clearly see my progress as well as the benefits this method provides. I even managed to inspire others to start their own sketchnoting journey!
    • I learned once more about the power of visibility and positive feedback, this time within my own company.
    • Agile Greece Summit: Thanks to Maaret Pyhäjärvi I got invited to speak in Athens about my journey at my current company FlixBus as well as facilitate a mob session. The talk triggered lots of conversations, the mob session inspired people to try it in their own companies!
    • Toyer Mamoojee and my extended pact group evolved into a power learning group bringing together even more wonderful people to learn from.
    • Despite all the time I've spent away from my product team during the year already, my team still had my back and everything was working very well.
    • I had learned to acknowledge that I am technical during the past years, and to tell people so. This time I received a wonderful reminder not to belittle any skills I have.
  • October
    • A dear teammate triggered revising our automated end-to-end tests in an incremental way by frequently pairing with me.
    • HerCAREER: I facilitated a meetup at this career fair and exhibition targeted at women, sharing my story as well as answering any of their questions regarding my job as tester.
    • My testing tour ended - and it was a full success.
  • November
  • December
    • I received absolutely lovely peer feedback from my product team, even though I've been a lot at conferences or working on other company initiatives. Seems I managed to strike the balance in their point of view!
  • General
    • Overall, I now gave 15 sessions at 11 conferences in 7 different countries since September 2017.
    • I received further speaking offers and other opportunities and was strong enough to say no. Note to myself: Practice that more often.
    • Including this one, I wrote 45 blog posts this year, summing up of a total of 75 since I started this blog in December 2016.
    • I continued to attend several different local meetups, something I only started last year.
    • In my company's testing community, the other two moderators got engaged a lot more this year. We tried lots of different formats for our monthly meetups, aiming for continuously improving how we can provide value for each other.
    • I made some further steps towards changing the world to the better when it comes to diversity and inclusion. I spoke up in case of bad talk; not always, but a lot more often. I made colleagues aware of the singular they and asked them to get used to it. I made clear that as a woman I don't feel included in "guys", and I know many more who don't as well.
    • I received so much lovely feedback from the community. This means a lot for me and is super encouraging!
    • As you can clearly see above: I got a LOT better at recognizing and stating my own achievements. I indeed practiced to do so! I'll be glad I wrote about them so I can remind myself of them whenever impostor syndrome overcomes me again.

Thanks Are Due

There are so many people to thank. Simply look at above tweets and you see I was not and am not alone on my journey. I am so grateful to have so many people around me! Lists are always incomplete, however, I'd like to give it at least a try and close this year by explicitly thanking the following people as they gave me a boost this year, provided invaluable feedback, support, encouragement, advice, and more. THANK YOU.
  • My personal learning network, with my accountability and learning partner Toyer Mamoojee leading the way! Also, I'd like to thank everyone of our power learning group explicitly: Dianë XhymshitiJoão Proença, Mirjana Kolarov, Viktorija ManevskaSimon Berner, Lilit Sharkhatunyan, Pooja Shah, Dragan Spiridonov.
  • All those wonderful people who joined me on my testing tour this year, with Maaret Pyhäjärvi in first place who heavily influenced my tour through leading by example. Peter Kofler for having three pair testing sessions with me and agreeing to continue pairing regularly in 2019.
  • All people of the Women in Testing slack as this is a most wonderful support group and network I learned to heavily appreciated.
  • All those people who provided me new opportunities! Like getting selected or even invited to conferences, webinars, podcasts, writing articles, and more.
  • All those people with whom I went sightseeing after conferences - I had a lovely time with you! Lisa Crispin, Barney Dellar, Marcus Hammarberg, Nancy Van Schooenderwoert, Woody Zuill, Dawna Jones, Mark WestMarianne DuijstGwen Diagram.
  • Marianne Duijst, for being such a huge inspiration when it comes to getting out of our own comfort zone, public speaking, sketchnoting, and more.
  • Patrick Prill, whose kindness, encouragement, support and wonderful constructive feedback on my conference talks is invaluable.
  • Thomas Rinke, for all the things he does to drive our community forward, for being a great ally, for being a wonderful person to talk with in general.
  • Ashley Hunsberger, for openly sharing her thoughts and emotions and for providing sound advice on my very first keynote!
  • George Dinwiddie, for sharing his story when it comes to bad talk, and for having a sympathetic ear when it was most needed.
  • My fellow FlixTechSummit organizers, for their hands-on support and hard work. No one could have done it alone and we made this first tech conference happen together!
  • And last but not least: My wonderful product team! I know we have each other's backs and this is not taken for granted. THANK YOU.

Outlook for 2019

Here's a sneak peek of what's coming next.
  • #CodeConfident: I decided on my personal challenge for 2019. Several people already offered their support and am eager to kick it off.
  • I will continue pair testing on the topic of security with Peter Kofler.
  • In the first quarter I offer cross-team and cross-role mob sessions at my company to have people learn with and from each other. The first response was positive and people already signed up.
  • TestBash Brighton: I have the chance to finally experience the home of all TestBashes and share my lessons from my testing tour.
  • There are more conferences to come, so stay tuned.
  • There will be a second FlixTechSummit to organize! I hope we can include our lessons learned and make it even an better learning experience for everyone.

The Biggest Challenges

Other speakers are frequently asking me: You're all over the place, doing so many things - do you still work? When do you work? How to deal with work when you're speaking? The funny thing is that my colleagues keep asking me: Do you have any free time at all? (They know I do work indeed.)

Now, I do all of that and more. There's family, friends, and personal interests. Last year I wrote I noticed I played a lot less computer games! Unfortunately that's still true. Therefore, I explicitly included this as an indicator to pause in my new #CodeConfident challenge. So, besides that, my biggest challenge for 2019 will be to take care of myself.
  • Avoid "hamstering". The more I did and shared publicly, the more visible I got, the more opportunities opened up for me. Which is great! The downside: it's really hard to say no to things I'd love to do, however, I only have limited capacities just like anyone else.
  • Balance the load. Even when carefully selecting what I do, I know I will do a lot. So I need to balance my time even more carefully.
Portia Tung at Agile Greece Summit 2018 told us: "You may." Allow yourself to play. I add: and allow yourself to take a break and rest. I am looking back at wonderful 12 months and I am looking forward to what's coming in the new year. See you all in 2019!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

A New Pact: My Challenge for 2019

It's that time of the year again! It's time for a new pact to tackle my next big learning challenge.

Some Background

Toyer Mamoojee and I found each other as learning partners at Agile Testing Days 2016. We made a deal to help each other out of our comfort zones and tackle a challenge that really scared us: public speaking. The goal of our first pact was to return to Agile Testing Days 2017 as speakers - and we did it! This had worked so well and we had benefited from our mutual learning journey so much that we agreed to do a second pact for 2018. This time our goals diverged. I committed to pair with many different testers to learn where I stand and increase my testing skills. So I went on a testing tour this year - and it was a huge success again.

Meanwhile this whole learning partnership had created quite some buzz. We had openly shared our learning journey with the world and people got really interested. At first another group got inspired to create their own pact. Then Toyer and I had the opportunity to extend our own partnership to a pact group with a few more people. Out of that, a power learning group with even more awesome persons evolved; while all other formations were still valid and going on. More and more people got interested so that recently a second power learning group got started!

What scares me most nowadays?

That has always been my starting question. I mean, think about it: what scares you most when it comes to your personal development?

As the previous two pacts had went so well and provided so much personal value for me I knew early on I wanted to do a third pact for 2019. Therefore, I had gathered first thoughts already since mid of the year when it was already clear that the testing tour was a success. Here's the unedited, raw list of thoughts and ideas that I had always added to. I felt the urge to edit the points to make them more readable for you, and more presentable for me, however, I decided to share them just as they are, unadorned. I hope you can still follow my train of thoughts.
- Do something like http://www.100daysofcode.com/
- coding tour? myself? for non-advanced? automation tour?
- testing tour 2019 - focused on one topic, repeated with same people?
- practice technicality
- tools tour
- code on GitHub, share, have code reviewed, use lots of tools together with code
- share knowledge at company: workshops, coaching, mobs, training, etc., repeatedly
- focus on learning
- fix the basics
- security testing with Peter
- Developing mobile app with Guna
- Trish Koo: If anyone's interested in paid 1:1 career or test automation mentoring, DM me. I'm happy to work across timezones, online.
- talking testing, testing on stage
- do test retreats
- automation
- feel I'm lacking, coding skills
- coding tour? even scarier!! GitHub; upskill & practice tour; or: tooling tour! still pairing up for learning, common motive across years
- cross-team solutions
- embrace diversity of everything vs. stretched thin
- proving I'm technical
- start own automation and or app project or several, invite others to pair with you on them, can also work solo on them, post learner's journal notes on blog after pairing of noteworthy, short but insightful, public on GitHub, scary so it more often, show vulnerabilities to the best, but after one year I'll be awesome, chance to adapt after 3 months, more flexible, run it under own hashtag again, able to talk about it, combines learning approaches that have proven successful already, more focused, against not technical & for more fullstack
- add exit criteria! Not only hypothesis
- decide whether to continue security testing sessions with Peter, once per month and inform him
- https://twitter.com/codecopkofler/status/1057732730430148609
- https://twitter.com/profesor_dragan/status/1057893852835500032?s=19
- do a testing demo on stage, explore, use automation, even write code; show and tell
- pair with Maaret more
- speak your mind and give feedback in time
- test in front of audience, show and tell
- do teaching videos
- do many small experiments, where people can join our not, to combine with solo, e.g. run for one month, like MoT challenges, security, tools, automation, TDD etc. And close it with facilitating a mob about this topic to have others learn together, share insights as tweets, one blog post per month or optional; freedom to adapt any time, just be transparent about it
- integrate TAU course in challenge
- do courses from personal Trello like https://www.freecodecamp.org/news/beaucarnes/angular-tutorial-course--OHbjepWjQ or the security challenge
- include security testing with Peter?
- think about mission/vision: conquer my fear and inspire by doing so; internal: learning platform?
- AI, ML, neural networks?
- code collaboration challenge; anything coding, public, GitHub, call for collaboration #codingchallenge, metrics!
- continue speaking, continue with Peter on security testing, continue workshops at work and meetups, do video course
- measure hamster wheel, indicators as well: have you played any game? Exit criteria
Do you see any patterns here? I do.

Pact #3: A Brave New World

From all those ideas and thoughts that I jotted down during the past half year, I found the following to be my condensed next big fear and therefore my chosen challenge for 2019.
The challenge: Become code-confident. My programming skills can only be described as modest - at best (and I'm not being modest here). I always wanted to dive deeper and learn more. So far, however, I've rarely honed this skill. Some years ago I tried to practice on my own but lost momentum; the biggest part of my recent experience stems from pairing and mobbing together with my product team at work. Now, programming or coding (to keep it simple I'll use these terms interchangeably in the following) is a skill that many people benefit from, no matter their role; already now, and presumably even more in the future. Looking at my own power learning group, nearly everyone of them is actively programming in everyday work. To add to that: people talk a lot about how essential coding skills are for us testers. Whenever someone talks about programming skills as prerequisite, or as absolute standard, I feel I don't belong and that soon enough everyone will see that, too. Even worse, many people consider you only technical when you're able to code. I absolutely don't share this viewpoint, but yet feel the need to prove myself that I can code. So it's about time to conquer this fear of losing my face by showing how much I don't know yet, to see for myself how much I can increase my programming skills in a certain time frame, and most importantly to become confident that I am not only able to read code but also to write code myself. In short: I want to become code-confident.
How to solve this challenge while staying in the learning zone without crossing over to the panic zone? I made a great experience formulating an underlying hypothesis for my last pact, so I decided to do it again.
The hypothesis: I believe that doing many small hands-on coding exercises and challenges, on my own as well as together with other interested people, will result in increased confidence in my programming skills. I’ll know I have succeeded when I  have developed a small product from scratch.
When coming up with a concrete experiment, or let's rather call it a probe, to test this hypothesis, I learned from my past pacts. I wanted to make this public so that I will consider it as binding and give back to the community at the same time, hopefully inspiring others to join in or start something on their own. I wanted to pair up or mob with others to learn more in an easier and faster way. Also, I realized that the time investment for any next pact probe had to be lower than for the last one so that I would have more time to focus on the learning itself - not forgetting having more time for myself as well to rest and relax. Here's what I came up with.
The probe:
  • I practice programming by doing different kind of coding exercises and challenges. The tasks can be anything that triggers my interest, on any topic, with their size ranging from small to medium, and solved in any programming language that deems suitable. Examples for exercises might be a hackrrank challenge, a coding kata, automating tests on any level, adding a new feature to an existing application.
  • I share my progress and results publicly on my GitHub account whenever feasible. Overall I publish at least five repositories, no matter how small.
  • I ask for collaboration and learning partners either to practice together with me on the chosen challenges, or to provide their feedback so I can increase my knowledge and skills. While doing so, this does not hold me back from working on the challenges on my own at any time as well.
  • Whenever I gained the confidence to do so, I start building an application from scratch. The objective is to have created a small product providing basic functionality, serving as proof of concept that my skills evolved and my confidence to tackle these kind of coding challenges increased.
I know there's a lot more to programming and developing than just mere coding skills. A lot of knowledge is involved as well, about architecture, design patterns, core language concepts and more. While I might hopefully learn about them on my way, this is not my focus for this challenge. My goal here is not to become a developer but to hone the skills in my toolbox to support my testing.

This time I added another section to the probe design: pause criteria. End of 2017 I had already realized how much time I had invested in fulfilling my pact. Still, I have taken up even more challenges in 2018. At the latest conferences I attended this year, people talked a lot more about mental health and the importance to be kind to ourselves and take time to rest. As I see the importance of this topic, I defined a personal limit I shall not cross. The biggest personal indicator and therefore the warning sign I definitely know of is this: if I don't play computer games anymore - which I adore! - I shall take a break and do exactly that, play computer games. Do it for pure entertainment and rest from challenges, without any pressure involved.
Pause criteria:
  • Have you played any non-casual computer game this week? If not, stop whatever you're doing, rest, then play. Continue only three days later with the challenge. (Only exception: conference weeks.)
The probe starts earliest at the time this blog post is published. It is over as soon as any of below exit criteria apply, whichever comes first, and will then get evaluated.
Exit criteria:
  • The target had been achieved.
  • It's November 1st.
  • I had to pause the probe for the 15th time, indicating a severe lack of balance requiring a re-prioritization of the things I do in my life.

Influence(r)s

After I formulated my pact challenge for 2018, I realized that I had been heavily influenced by several people. I believe that we get inspired by others around us most times and we can only be glad when we see who triggered our ideas and endeavors so we can give them the credit they deserve. I cannot claim that below list is complete, still, I'd like to highlight those inspiring people and situations I am aware of.
  • Richard Bradshaw's and Mark Winteringham's tutorial "Let’s Take Automated Checking Beyond WebDriver" back at Agile Testing Days 2016 was one of the triggers from the last years. Fun fact: Toyer attended the tutorial as well, we even worked together in one group! This tutorial triggered me to finally create my own GitHub account - because it seemed everyone else had one and I thought maybe it's really about time to start mine as well. Sad fact: Ever since I have not had the courage to make use of it. Now, next year in April I'll be at TestBash Brighton and I decided to take the pre-event course "Automation in Testing". I'd love to be prepared for this.
  • Blanché Carstens started the #100DaysOfCode challenge mid of this year. I had seen this challenge a few times now in my Twitter timeline. It sounded really intriguing, and yet I shied away from tweeting daily about my progress. Ever since I wondered whether there might be another way for me.
  • In one of the monthly meetups of our agile testing community at my company, we had watched Maaret Pyhäjärvi's keynote "Intersection of Automation and Exploratory Testing" at SeleniumConf India 2018. This talk was very well received and inspired people to think differently about exploratory testing and automation. For me personally, Maaret is one of the best examples who sees herself rather coming from the exploratory testing side and yet clearly emphasizes how essential programming skills are, also for exploring. After all, test automation fits in nicely in her box of exploratory testing.
  • In this very talk, Maaret named Angie Jones as her figurative counterpart, looking at test automation as the main thing, where exploratory testing fits in. I had the opportunity to experience Angie's way of teaching test automation in her tutorial "Advanced Automation for Agile: UI, Web Services, and BDD" at CAST 2018. In my blog post about the tutorial you can read the following: "It felt good to learn that I know more than I thought I would. That I could easily follow and still had time to help others, and was able to do so." So what's it to be feared? In addition, Angie invited me to participate in the Test Automation University next year. I made clear that I'm no automation expert, and yet Angie encouraged me to teach how you can get it done even if no one on your team is an automation expert. I took a leap and agreed, so watch out for the course coming out presumably mid of March next year.
  • My dear teammate Olha Fil is a major inspiration for me as well. She keeps reminding me that most challenges are best solved together, basically any sort of task. Olha is really engaged in pair testing complex stories with me and teaches me with the most patience and kindness when pair programming. It's a pleasure learning with and from each other. She's my bastion of calm reminding me not to do things alone, while at the same time encouraging me to tackle my chosen challenge. As she said, although it will be painful at the beginning, anything is possible, and I really only need to practice, so just do it. She was the one to raise my attention to the point that increasing the confidence in my skills should be the main factor to evaluate the probe on. Also, she ensured me that I can always reach out to her and ask her about anything. Thank you so much!
  • When I had Marianne Duijst pairing with me on my testing tour on the topic of automation, I was so glad to share the knowledge I had about tools like the command line, the IDE we used, Cucumber and more. There are two things here: first, I was super happy I could share knowledge in areas I would not deem myself super knowledgable. Second, Marianne is just super inspiring all around. Just in recent weeks she took up her own challenge to dive deeper into code, reaching out for lovely people like Marit van Dijk for support, and tackling the Advent of Code challenge this year. My greatest respect goes out to her! 
  • And last but not least, Toyer Mamoojee, my learning partner himself, is the one I want to thank the most for being a constant source of inspiration. If I were to use the analogy, I'd say Toyer and I are forming a similar pair as Angie and Maaret do. Toyer is firstly focusing on automation and adding in exploration; and I'm coming from the exploratory testing side of things and am aiming to add more automation in. It's very inspiring what he did using his unique skillset over the past years, like teaching technical testing to testers in his company, sharing how he combined automation with mind map visualizations, and much more. To add to that: I am certain that he will be a great mentor and feedback giver in this challenge!

Adding New Challenges to Existing Ones

The thing is: I plan to still work on other topics as well. I will still blog, another challenge from 2016 I haven't mentioned anymore. My initial challenge of public speaking really kicked off and I'm eager to build on that. My testing tour resulted into more informal hands-on pairing sessions, like monthly security testing sessions with Peter Kofler. In addition, I really want to share my knowledge again more within my company, for example by offering cross-team mob sessions to learn with and from each other. For our global community I committed to tackle my fear of doing teaching videos by doing a course for Test Automation University. If you have read my raw notes above, you'll find the last points on the list as well, and yet I chose a different one as my major challenge next year.

To add to all that, my new pact for 2019 is in itself two challenges in one. It's about tackling my fears when it comes to coding, while still keeping my health indicator in view and taking care of myself. As Alex Schladebeck and Huib Schoots shared in their Agile Testing Days 2018 keynote, this is the only way we can add value.

To conclude, a new pact is born: let's become #CodeConfident!