Archive for the ‘community’ Category

Yes, You Have Something to Share

In 2013, I was just beginning to assimilate the lessons – the failures and the successes – from the challenges of my 1st four years building a test team from 1 (me) to 5 and being in a manager role while providing testing services across multiple projects.  A friend who’d just returned from a developer conference in San Francisco said, “You should speak at a conference.”  The end result of his encouragement was my 1st professional conference presentation in 2014 in New York City at CAST.

I already had the benefit of practice in speaking to small groups for 5 minutes via  Toastmasters (highly recommended to reduce jitters), but a pitch and preparation for a conference talk was new to me. Here is a recap of how I prepared for my 30-minute track session.

Hurdle 1: Decide on what to share and make the pitch(es).

Hurdle 2:  Follow the Boy Scout motto; Be Prepared. 

  • 4 months out – Drafted outline and main points, started practicing.
    • SpeakEasy did not exist at that time, but you DO have this option to pair with a volunteer mentor to get coaching for help with a proposal and presentation.  I hired a trusted coach who had already helped me find my voice.  We met initially over Skype to nail down my main points and several times later for me to practice and get feedback to refine my presentation as the big day got closer.
  • 1 month out – Got graphics help from my design friend, Chris.
    • He made elegant slides to fit the tone of the few selected words I had on each slide. This allowed me to focus on honing delivery, being able to speak comfortably within the time constraints.
  • 2 weeks out: Videoed at home rehearsal. Practice run for family.
  • 1 week out:  Presented to about 15 friends at work at lunchtime over pizza.
  • Day before:  Prepare the introduction
    • Met for 10 minutes with my track session facilitator, Pari. She asked me some questions to get to know me a little better so that her introduction was warm and personal and not simply a recitation of my presenter bio and talk summary, which most attendees had likely already read.



  • Night before: Made an unsuccessful attempt to go to bed early, but managed to get a few hours of half-decent rest.
  • Moments before:  Breathed deeply to keep cool.
    • Played music for myself (to relax) and to spark casual conversation with attendees.   [Listen to  this one-woman orchestra. Enjoy Zoe Keating’s, The Optimist.]

Result Set

I finished within suggested time limit and based on the 15 minutes of engaging voluntary group discussion at the end of my talk, I think I did alright. I knew I had achieved my goal of reaching at least one person when a participant shyly slid me a sweet handwritten note – 2 sentences – and thanked me afterwards. Wow!  How’s that for confirmation?


  • CAST Live  – daily broadcast each evening following the close of the conference:

  • Coming soon – My session was not recorded, so I will make my own recording and publish on Vimeo.

Additional resources I used:


Test Across the Bay! Meetup in Mobile, AL

Thank you to CTS Mobile sponsoring and hosting this month’s Lean Coffee Style Meetup in their Wall Street office.  It was great to have both testers and developers at the table forming our own agenda, sharing insights, experiences, laughs, and food.

Everyone took 2 index cards and wrote down a topic of interest.  Next we laid out the cards for all to review so that each person could take 3 sticker dots ( and place all or some of them on the card(s) of greatest interest to them.  Then we reordered the cards based on number of votes and consolidated duplicate topics (next time, we will remove dups prior to voting).  We place these cards in the ‘To Discuss’ column and pulled the 1st one into ‘In Progress’ column.  The original submitter of the topic gave us a little more context on the card.   We dedicated at least 6 minutes to each topic.  You can learn more about the LeanCoffee meeting style here.

Topics covered:

  • Dev/QA communication and relationships
    • how not to play the “blame game”, communication throughout the build cycles
    • talking vs. only communicating via bug tools.
    • importance of neutral tone, clarity in bug documentation, including steps/tests
  • How best to limit depth & number of test cases – research and scope
    • consider risk area, quality factors that matter most, breadth of coverage
    • apply multiple test techniques
  • Manual test case structure (test case naming conventions and step details)
    • naming conventions and standards vary between clients
    • should capture the essence of test intent
  • Importance of performance testing
    • clients often think performance testing is included.
    • client education, advocacy, and awareness
    • examples of performance issues
  • How do you manage requirementstraceability in an Agile environment?
    • changing tools, planning, documentation, and approaches in this context
  • Effective Exploratory Testing
    • you CAN have traceability and accountability with exploratory testing
    • take tours, tailor your approach, endless possibilities

Thank you to to Matt Seese for reaching across the bay to host, to Kaeisha Ford for notes, to Justin for the photos and to everyone who participated.


Mitch’s Testing Kata

Thanks to Mitch Ferrer, Application Architect with AppRiver, LLC, for hosting the Gulf Coast Software Testing June Meetup and to our friends at the Gulf Coast Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship for providing meeting space for 10 Test Enthusiasts.

Why kata?  -for the sake of practice and growth.  Test drive a language, test drive a solution, test different approaches, practice patterns and techniques, change habits, and accelerate learning by pairing, develop skills and mastery.  Mitch opened with a brief slide deck that gave us a background on katas as applied to software.  He reviewed their benefits and lead us through the kata posted in this discussion thread as a demonstration of how arbitrary, seemingly obtuse, requirements are often driven by real world needs.  We then launched into brainstorming user stories and user-acceptance criteria on a whiteboard.

After we were satisfied that we had a good start exploring user stories and acceptance criteria,  Mitch walked us through two solutions, a math solution and pure string manipulation solution.  This dichotomy showed the math solution to be ultra efficient but not easy to understand vs. a pure string manipulation solution (Typescript with Jasmine) which was more lines of code but readable and easy to follow.  The key to this kata were tests designed based on desired behaviors using triangulation – sample inputs and outputs – to allow for vetting business rules and to allow for adding new use cases, which surfaced as we discussed a variety of acceptance criteria.

With Mitch putting each solution through the tests (swapping out implementations) and modifying some bits of code, we saw firsthand how test first development (consuming tests first) ensures ease of use and awareness of how changes will affect customers.  We saw how test first development makes requirements provable and implementations easy to re-factor, and ultimately, how tests facilitate teams tackling business problems.

This kata was a fine example to illustrate the beauty of test first development.  Thank you, Mitch, for sharing your time, expertise and love for the craft of software development and testing!


May Meetup Redux, Mobile Software Development & Testing

Eight of us (including a colleague from Mobile, AL!) gathered earlier this month for the Gulf Coast Software Testing Meetup.  Thank you to Janusz Chudzynski for speaking with us about Mobile Application Software Development and Testing in iOS and Android.   Janusz is a software engineer, frequent presenter, and research associate at University of West Florida with multiple mobile applications under his belt.  He had suggestions for getting started with development, programming in Objective-C, and utilizing various frameworks for application management, debugging, and deployment. We discussed challenges of testing across platforms and devices.  We also discussed many of these topics as Janusz demonstrated them to us:

  • IDEs and unit testing with XC test framework.
  • xCode’s UI designer and storyboard components.
  • strengths of iOS simulators for forcing test conditions such as stressed resources or slow connections.
  • strengths of xml-based layouts for Android development.

In closing, Janusz passed around a few iBeacons and we brainstormed useful and fun mobile application ideas to benefit from these devices.

I appreciated Janusz’s gracious tone and confident, casual style amidst a somewhat disruptive environment with one of the restaurant patrons having a medical emergency and with dissonant attendee opinions on a few subject areas.  I thought his talk was accessible to testers who do not code and to developers and testers who do code.  I have very limited experience with mobile application testing, however as a result of Janusz’s talk, the subject seemed accessible and I felt inspired to experiment for fun and learning with mobile software application projects outside of my day job.

You can find Janusz on LinkedIn or Twitter @appzzman.

Lean Style @ Seville, April Meetup Redux

I did not publicize and promote April’s LeanCoffee Style GCST Meetup as much as February’s Lean Pie, so with leaner attendance there was no need to vote on topics.  Bullets below indicate the main cards we wrote up and discussed.  The sub-bullets are offshoots, shared anecdotes of main topics in conversations over dinner.  Thank you to Apper and UWF peers for the subject matter and food for thought.

GCST “Lean Pie” at O’Zones Pizza Pub

I want to help connect people to learn from one another to advance the craft of software testing within our area.  Getting the fledgling Gulf Coast Software Testing Meetup (GCST) group going is a fun way to explore this territory.  We had our 1st Lean Coffee style GCST meetup at O’Zones last week where I facilitated a modified version of the 1-hour Lean Coffee format, the mechanics of which roughly followed this template.  After introductions, each person wrote up to 3 cards (topics), explained our subjects, cast our votes with 3 dots, racked and stacked cards, and kicked off time-boxed conversations beginning with topics with the most votes.

Eight of us gathered to ask questions, share info, insights, and experiences.  I enjoyed seeing friendly new faces and everyone seemed to have great time.  What I like about this meeting framework is the breadth of topics, how each topic could stand alone as fodder for an evening’s knowledge share.  I also appreciate how everyone has an opportunity to speak, so you get a hint of everyone’s personality and you learn a little about their interests even if you do not elaborate on their topic during the meeting.

The topics:

6 dots:  JavaScript testing in Jasmine? Appropriate for all JS Apps?

3 dots:

  • Mobile development frameworks in use at your company
  • Levels of testing and where to concentrate effort – UI, end-to-end, data
  • UI design strategies in general

2 dots:

  • Testing Kata
  • Selenium
  • Define “Done” in the context of software development

No votes:

Our meetup went an hour and a half, which was just the right amount of time considering that we ordered and enjoyed food and drinks as soon as we had all arrived.  As we packed our to-go boxes we talked about tentative plans for upcoming meet ups.  Some of the ideas shared included a local version of our own “Test Bash” and 20 minute show-and-tells.  I think the collective will come up with a great plan, so let’s have our March meetup be a planning session for the next 6 months.  To our friends across the bay in Mobile, AL, several of us, myself included, would be up for meeting in your area.

Parting thoughts:

  • Next time, I will promote the meetup through like-minded channels, such as IT Gulf Coast and Innovation Coast.
  • Thanks Chris, for reminding me to start the timer (twice!).:)
  • Our group could use a snazzy logo, which better represents us… something other than the stock image I selected.  Although, I love bats, those swarming creatures look a bit ominous.
  • The thumbs (up, neutral, down = keep going, I don’t care, let’s leave this topic) element used at each topic time limit was interesting here in that there was some reticence about when to use up or down.  We joked aloud that maybe the thumbs-down was kind of harsh. I wondered if it was our polite Southern cultures, which lead to this sentiment, or if I did not do a good job of explaining the thumbs.   I will get more feedback from my Dev friends who attended.
  • Thanks to my social friends at the Association for Software Testing, who organized the 1st Lean Coffee I ever attended.  That early morning session at the funky cool coffee shop in Madison, Wisconsin, was energizing and showed me the possibility of trying it out on my own.

Career Composting

As kids, my brother and I loved to dig into our family’s enormous compost pile of oak and pecan tree leaves, vegetable scraps, and dried horse manure to find worms for Grandpa’s fishing trips.  Our rewards:  his ear-to-ear grin and 10 cents for every worm we found.  As an adult, I sift through a much smaller pile in my backyard and tend a tiny family garden.  Using my hands there goes a long way in clearing my head and often helps me turn over my work experiences.

I love to unearth bugs in software and appreciate help finding bugs in my thinking.  Like composting, growing into new habits take practice and patience. Here is the goodness which surfaced over time in the bins of the greatest personal challenges in my recent software testing history.

I have a voice and I trust myself to use it.

  • Test leadership – I articulate my strategy and my role as a tester.  I narrate 3 stories – status of the product/how I tested it, how good that testing was/why you should be pleased with my testing, Is there anything else you want to know? (Credits and thanks to Paul Holland’s Track Tutorial on End-to-End Agile Testing at CAST 2013 conference). I am not a gatekeeper or Product Owner, so I speak up when someone asks me to “make the call” to launch. I re-iterate my role in support of the business stakeholder team making an informed decision.  I make recommendations based on testing and quality issues.  I adjust the test strategy to explore areas of concern as project scope changes.
  • Management – I am responsible for providing direction and for communicating clearly;  I am not responsible for other people’s happiness. To be of best service, I direct my attention to the former, to the clarity and content of my message.

I will not underestimate the importance of community.

  • The above phrase resonated with me at CAST 2013 closing remarks by Scott Barber and Rob Sabourin.  I am continuously bolstered by the generosity of the software testing community through reading many blogs, my participation in a few sessions with Weekend Testing Americas, online coaching from Anne-Marie Charrett, learning from interactions and resources from online training through the Association for Software Testing, attending conferences.  I use techniques, tools and resources from the all of the aforementioned.
  • Now is the time to begin to give back.  I did a lightning talk at CAST 2013 on Leading Testing: Lessons Learned from Gumby. The positive responses and encouragement from those 4 minutes was part of the nudge I needed to draft my 1st post. I will devote energy to the fledgling meetup group I founded, Gulf Coast Software Testers, and I will eventually follow Claire Moss’s lead on co-branding this group as she has smartly done with Software Testing Club – Atlanta.

I ask for help.

  • I recognize emotional triggers as an invitation to cultivate self-awareness and an opportunity to grow my emotional intelligence (EQ). There is something (within me) that is asking for my attention.  No dillydallying!  I promptly confide in someone I trust to ask for feedback about the situation.
  • If I feel like something is technically over my head or if I get bogged down isolating failure conditions, I step away from my desk to get a 2nd opinion.  When I have been on the same test project for a long time, I reach out to my teammates to discuss testing with a developer, architect, and/or another tester to discover there are areas of the system, other scenarios, or approaches I have not considered.
  • Thank you to these great folks for their contributions, which have inspired me in this area:  Eric Jacobson – blog post, You’re a Tester, Relax;  Anne-Marie Charrett – Article [PDF], Beware the Lotus Eaters: Exploratory Testing; Paul Holland – YouTube video commentary on Skilled Testing.

Catch any worms lately?  What lessons did you learn in 2013 to apply in 2014? I wish you a hardy and prolific new year! 

– A heartfelt thank you to @aclairefication for her effervescent feedback, which helped me refine this post.