Monday, April 15, 2019

TestBash Brighton & Automation in Testing - A Full Week of Learning

About a week ago, I returned home from a full week of learning. I got selected to speak at Test Bash Brighton 2019, the mother of all TestBashes - feeling super honored! When I learned that Richard Bradshaw and Mark Winteringham offered their three day course "Automation in Testing" just before the conference, I decided to extend my stay by these days.

Automation In Testing

The first time I heard about this topic was by listening to Richard's talk back in 2015 at Agile Testing Days. I got intrigued, and joined Richard's and Mark's related tutorial day the year afterwards. I was super curious how their content evolved. And I did not regret it at all, to the contrary!

They gave the course for the tenth time and thus labeled it their version 1.0. Also, as we started on April 1, a nice little April's fools joke was included ;-)

Now, I don't want to spoil the contents of the course. I'd rather heavily recommend that you take it.

What I really liked was that the following things were in focus:
  • Testing and us as humans involved
  • The multiple ways how automation can help your testing
  • The manifold ways existing or self-built tools can help your testing
  • How to educate people back home
  • Many different hands-on exercises, learning and practicing together, in smaller and larger groups
The people-centered focus of the course was even greater as the participants were a wonderful group of kind people, eager to learn, open to collaborate. They made the course special!

Besides the actual content, I learned a lot about myself once more during the course. We had time to solve a problem on the second day. Our table's group worked very well together before, yet we stumbled in this challenge. Speaking for myself: I found myself pressured by the task at hand, especially by the limited time and the need to justify our decisions well at the end. I found myself not being able to make the jump from our great discussions on architecture and prioritization to actual implementation. I found myself a lot less confident in implementation than I would like to be. I found myself getting paralyzed by the fact that much of what we wanted to do existed already in the project, so what's the point of implementing it again. I found myself realizing the more stressed I am, the less I understand, also acoustically, the more solo I work, the less help I seek - the less I enjoy what I am doing. I found myself getting angry with myself. This was a real grounding experience. The good thing: The next day we found ourselves in different groups, getting a different problem to solve. And we thrived together! The whole table mobbed together, getting all tasks done by bringing all our knowledge, experience, observations and any other skill in. A wonderful experience! Now, all being said: if you have the chance, try it yourself.

The only downside of taking the course was that I missed the overlapping new conference TestBash Essentials. From what I heard from very experienced people, the talks were all super high quality and very welcome reminders of the basics we might have never got taught ourselves! Hope I can catch this new format next time.

TestBash Workshops

For the workshop day I chose two that I've wanted to attend for some time now. In Angie Jones' "Clean Coding Practices for Test Automation" workshop she guided us in refactoring a "smelly" automation project, sharing her wisdom of good practices and design patterns for automation throughout. It was great, well structured, easy to follow, giving time to practice and find the solution ourselves before discussing it. I really enjoyed it!
In the afternoon I joined Mark Winteringham's workshop "Approval Testing: Superpower Your Automation Feedback". I've heard of the approval testing approach for quite some time now, yet never got my hands on it to give it a try myself. The workshop gave me exactly this opportunity, and I was positively surprised by how easy and fast it was to add valid tests. Even though you had to run them at least once to approve the first snapshot. The workshop was well instructed and easy to follow along.
During both workshops, I worked solo. Not my preferred way of working, yet paying well into my #CodeConfident challenge. A personal achievement during Mark's workshop was that I was able to do all exercises quickly and offer my help for others!

TestBash Conference Day

The big day came, and I had the honor to open the conference! In my talk "Cross-team Pair Testing: Lessons of a Testing Traveler" I shared the lessons learned on my Testing Tour. I was overwhelmed by all the positive feedback I received afterwards, both in person and on Twitter! This really added to my confidence. As this if often dearly needed, I established a habit over the last conferences. To make my own achievements visible, I started to list all the feedback I received for myself. Whenever I am having a bad day, that's something to look back into. It really helps me to acknowledge that I indeed could provide value to these people. I am also always creating a Twitter moment and add all tweets to it. I normally don't share these, yet feel free to check it out my TestBash Brighton Twitter moment to see for yourself.
The greatest thing: With my talk I could inspire many other people to go on a testing tour themselves, or start pair testing with other testers at their company. The best feedback ever!
The rest of the day, I created sketchnotes of the talks again - I found I really enjoy this style of note taking during talks. I remember a lot more from the talks, and the community really welcomes me sharing them - so thank you Marianne Duijst once more for your huge inspiration!
When it comes to Marianne, who normally creates wonderful sketchnotes herself: this time she did the amazing endeavor of live blogging the talks. Check them out to get a lot more in-depth impressions of the talks!

TestBash Open Space

Saturday came, and it was the sixth day of learning in a row. I had to admit to myself that my brain did not work well anymore. So I've spent most of the open space sessions in the hallway, in conversations with other people. That re-energized again!
The one session that stood out for me personally was the last one where I joined Jay Harris being asked all things hacking and penetration testing. Absolutely informative, learning a bunch!

Relaxing and Looking Forward

The conference was over, and there were few people left. One of them was Melissa Eaden, and we chose to go sightseeing together. We had a lovely time! If you get the chance to, speak with Mel. She is simply amazing. Extremely knowledgeable, inspiring, and simply fun to be around with.
This conference was made by the community, the people. I loved the reunion with many wonderful beings, such as João ProençaPatrick Prill, Gil ZilberfeldGem HillClaire Reckless. It was great to meet people for the first time in real life, like Parveen Khan. And it's always great to meet many new people as well, many of them on their first testing conference like Marissa or Georgia Bloyce!
I had a very great time, and am already looking forward to returning to the UK for my next TestBash - as I got selected to speak at TestBash Manchester as well! For this I will share my journey and lessons learned from my challenge of becoming #CodeConfident. This will be a brand-new presentation - so Patrick, I need you and looking forward to receiving your wonderful feedback! :-)


  1. Look forward to a similar journey as I plan to attend my 1st one in 2020. Not sure why missing the Testbash essentials starter course on account it running in parallel with the workshops was such a loss, you got invited back to speak. I'm visiting your "space" for the 1st time, and already impressed by your strong technique and skills. Thanks for the pointers.

    1. Great to hear, thanks for the feedback - really appreciated. :) All the best for your journey, hope you get to enjoy your first TestBash next year!