Experience Report: TestBashX - Brighton
Source: Authors own
A few weeks ago, I was honoured to attend TestBashX Brighton at the BA i360. I was really excited for this event since it’s one of the first in-person gatherings I’ve attended since the pandemic hit two years ago!
With all the excitement I forgot that the journey to Brighton from west London was two and a half hours each way. On my way there I read a couple of articles from fellow testers on the Ministry of Testing website, browsed Twitter, and came across a great post by Gem Hill. Little did I know she and I would be in the same workshop group, the Pink Panthers, for the entirety of TestBash!
I enjoyed my walk from Brighton station to the venue and, guess what, the sun was out too. I grew up on an island, so every time I see the sun come out in the UK and especially near the coast, it makes me even happier. As I walked down the stairs to register for TestBashX, I saw Diana Dromley open the door. Great timing for sure and the event had only just begun!
Source: Marie Drake
The format of this TestBash was new: a keynote speech kicked off the event, followed by a few hours of workshops and, to wrap up, a few closing talks. I especially loved that at the end of every workshop, the leader rated your team: the team with the most points won an MOT goodie bag. So the Pink Panthers were on a mission for the highest rating possible!
Source: Danny Dainton
Heuristics Help Us Generate Testing Ideas
The first workshop I attended was all about heuristics. Since we had some testers on our team who were new to MoT and testing in general, the 101-level approach was especially valuable. The leaders provided a great information leaflet on common heuristics acronyms: I expect that I’ll be keeping it close by as I explore products under test.
We learned that heuristics are fallible tools to help us solve problems;
They are fallible because they work only under certain conditions
We can use heuristics to trigger test ideas. For example, the mnemonic CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) can help trigger ideas for manipulating data to produce different test conditions
When we use heuristics regularly, we adopt them subconsciously and use them to quickly identify test ideas. This is how we come up with ideas in the first place.
When we run out of ideas, we can use heuristics deliberately or consciously to generate more ideas for our testing
We were asked to complete some exercises. The group was divided into two, and to make it more challenging we were told we were competing against each other!
Source: Diana Dromley
We Learn Postman Basics And Tips
I was a little nervous about my second workshop on Postman, since I have not touched code in god knows how long! However, the workshop was in one word EPIC.
I thoroughly enjoyed working on the challenge with Gem. I was eager to finish the entire challenge as it was all about learning the basics of Restful APIs. It was so interesting that I decided to schedule a workshop with a colleague at work who has been really keen to learn all about Postman.
Danny and his colleagues gave us soooo many tips and tricks, which kept me even more engaged in the challenge. And let’s not forget the amazing swag Postman always brings to conferences. Love the socks!
Source: Marie Drake
How To Hire Good Testers
After a short coffee break, we started our third workshop with IQVIA: “Test Team Roulette- Choose your ideal candidate.” This workshop focused on how to hire good testers: what do we look for? This workshop felt perfectly designed for me, since I am currently hiring senior testers and will hire more testers as time goes on. Working with Vernon and the team on the exercise, I learnt what matters to each and everyone, which was really valuable rather than deciding ideal hiring criteria by myself. Understanding the core skills we want to hire for can be a difficult and time-consuming task for sure, but questions like the following helped me think broadly:
Can we organise the important attributes first?
Could we do without certain skills perhaps?
Why does this skill matter to us?
In my opinion, when hiring, we should analyse the role in a manner such that we can capture the following:
Core skills - ways of working, tools, experience
Soft skills - communication, problem solver, pairing
Stretch skills - advocate, spread eminence internally and external
Would you agree?
Source: Ministry of Testing Twitter
How Do You Use TestSphere Cards?
It was lunchtime and we had a random weather situation where it was sunny but snowing too! On offer was a great variety of sandwiches as well as poke bowls and tonnes of chips.
Soon after the lunch break, I found Beren’s table for the TestSphere workshop. Once again this was a fun session. In the past, I have always thought about how I can use the TestSphere cards to strategise testing for a particular project or uncover critical test scenarios. But until Beren’s workshop I could not get my head around it.
Afterwards, I felt so much more confident about how to bring this to my workplace, maybe even to plan a fun workshop about it. A risk storming session format is a wonderful way of generating a visible quality strategy as a team:
What is important to our product?
What risks could impact these important aspects?
What can we do, as a team, to make sure they don't happen?
The TestSphere cards can be used for:
I have an activity for you all to take away: how would you use the TestSphere cards to test an ice-cream vending machine?
Source: Gregory Paciga
Learning About A Product From The Ground Up
After lunch, my team attended about four workshops. It was now time for workshop number five with Mark Winteringham to test something really funky and completely unknown to us, called the Model and Test the button.
We were divided into two different teams and had to come up with an architecture diagram for the Model application! It was a great exploratory testing session, as we had to interact with the application, ask questions, and discover different sources of information to learn how the application works.
Trying to understand something from scratch also helps identify any gaps in our knowledge. Does this sound like something similar that you’ve encountered? I have come across applications at work so many times where I have zero clue about them, but asking millions of questions and exploring is the best way forward. How would you approach an application without knowing what it does?
Building Quality As A Team
There was one last workshop that I could not attend, unfortunately. It was Quality Jenga by Tony Guiterrez. The premise: working as a team collaboratively leads to better results.
Being involved early on is a win for everyone. Everyone can contribute to the quality, and it is cheaper to fix something early on as opposed to when you are all done. This sounded like a really valuable session; collaboration within teams and cross-teams is vital as it helps avoid “the elephant in the room” situations.
Source: Marie Drake
In conclusion, TestBashX Brighton was a great experience. There was so much to learn and it was amazing to interact with so many people. I truly believe sharing is caring and the entire day felt like everyone was sharing all their testing expertise and helping each other learn.
By the time I got back home, I was pleased to learn via Twitter that the Pink Panthers actually got the most workshop points throughout the day! Happy conference day with a happy ending :).
Source: Ministry of Testing Twitter
Laveena Ramchandani is an experienced testing consultant with a comprehensive understanding of tools available for software testing and analysis. She aims to provide valuable insights that have high technical value and hopes to inspire others in the world through her work. Laveena regularly speaks at events on data science models and other topics, blogs regularly, and trains future testers.
Test Manager - Data science & Digital @ EasyJet
I am a vibrant, motivated and committed individual. I have been in the testing industry now for over 7 years. It's been a great experience learning and sharing skills. I aim to broaden my knowledge further more. Data science is what I am currently focusing on, and it's very exciting to see all the new things one could learn out of it and merge it with testing. Definitely quite interesting!