And it’s a wrap! Yes, EuroSTAR 2020 has concluded with great success and has created history as the first ever online format of the conference. The action packed final day of the event presented the participants with multitude of experiences and went on to complete the event on a high note. Here are some of the highlights:
The first keynote speech was by Tomasz Dubikowski on Real Life Stories of Microservices Testing. Tomack was an incredibly energetic presenter and in an excellent pace went on to establish key aspects of microservices testing and the approach to it. Using personas from real life he narrated how the mind set required for testing micro services, like the shift in mind set. He was highly effective in establishing concept of Contract Testing and Consumer Driven Contracts approach to avoid ‘integration hell’ which would be quite common in a micro services environment. He reiterated the importance of a habitat which supports good monitoring and observability, effective deployment strategy and healthy organisational conditions in order to achieve success in Microservices testing.
Tanja Vos was the second keynote speaker on the topic ‘GUI testing: from developing scripts to creating AI-enabled agents’. Tanja took the audience through a project to create an open source API tool called TESAR, undertaken by the Open university in Netherlands. Using the project as a case study, Tanja elaborated on how AI techniques can be used to enable machines to develop scriptless tests for various widget components of a GUI. She narrated the approaches of adding more intelligent action selection process and elaborated one concept called reinforcement learning, which is a reward based approach. She narrated how it can be implemented to achieve some advanced level tests like identifying paths which have minimal test coverage and traverse them to achieve accurate results. The precision and the effectiveness makes a strong case for AI enabled agents as a good choice of testing tool for GUI she established.
The concluding keynote of the day and the final talk of EuroSTAR 2020 was delivered by Jason Arbon on the topic ‘AI Testing in the Wild’ which was an excellent session for audience to take AI as a great choice for testing. Jason brought out the reasons why AI is to be acknowledged as a testing super power. He illustrated how AI enables some of the most complex, difficult and voluminous testing. The AI superpowers he listed are element verification, user flow execution, being able to navigate through anything visual, scalability across apps and number of tests, effective re-use, reusable tooling and many more. He was highly effective in explaining that with the current level of research around machine learning, AI testing would ease basic testing, hence freeing up testers to do more exploratory tests but he also highlighted how it is key to keep up with latest research as it is a rapidly developing area of technology. Jason’s session triggered an excellent set of questions in the audience who are clearly ready keen to delve in to this cutting edge technology in testing.
The track session I attended today were more of technical nature. Starting with ‘Surviving and Thriving in Automation’ session by Martin Gijsen, which provided some excellent pointers in setting automation. Through a detailed and effective mind map, he narrated the key aspects of automation like people, understanding, processes, technology, environments etc. Martin reiterated many automation best practices, also keeping in line with the theme all through his presentation.
I further attended a session by Adam Sandman on ‘APIs are Loose – How Do We Test Them?’. Delivered with great precision, Adam touched upon some of the most important aspects of API services, significance and key details around testing them. He highlighted the importance of dedicated, automated API tests supplemented with testing using actual client apps.
Seasoned speaker Andrew Brown delivered an excellent session on ‘Why Adding more Phases may not Reduce Bugs’. He narrated the various types of cognitive bias that often manifests in the form of decisions around testing like Peltzman effect, endowment effect, affect heuristic, risk appetite switch and anchoring effect. The human factor being the many aspects our approach to testing provided a fresh perspective to the audience.
On the Huddle front there was a constant set of activities which was great to witness. At the start of the day I had the privilege of assisting the session with Ryan Volker on Soft Skills for Testers. The session with Ryan drew one of the highest number of participants which goes to show how soft skills is a keen area of interest in the testing community! Ryan deftly addressed some excellent queries on the attributes recommendable for testing professionals to display in various team / individual situations like influencing, negotiation etc. A topic of personal interest, I gained good pointers from the session too. I also attended an excellent session delivered by Raj Subrameyer on how to improve career progression for testers. He gave excellent strategies for testers to aspire and indeed achieve them realistically like being writing what we enjoy and don’t enjoy doing, identifying the most suitable role according to that list, being planned about achieving those goals and pursuing them with earnestness. I further attended an AMA with Ronald Cummings-John on crowd testing was highly informative. He addressed queries around the factors to bear in mind with crowd testing like using accessibility requirements, geo-spacial factors etc. He clarified the comparison between using simulated data v/s real users and narrated the concept of Testathon.
The Huddle café was incredibly interesting as Dot Graham joined along and there was a conversation around pandemic, its impact on lifestyles. One of the memorable aspects of the meet was to have a tester who had joined all the way from Austin, Texas (USA). Not only had he spent a full night awake to be a part of the conference, but he had booked a room in hotel to be able to attend it undisturbed! I was really amazed by the dedication for someone to go through such efforts to be there at the event was incredibly heartening. This also proves how much the conference is valued across the world!
This turned out to be one of the most unexpected, yet pleasant surprises of this year’s conference for me! The sessions for feedback turned out to be a great forum to share thoughts with some of the renowned speakers and Gurus of Testing. The first feedback session was a wonderful conversation with Gurus Michael Bolton, Dot Graham and Szilard Szell. It was amazing to be able to speak to them at length about many aspects around the current arrangements around the conference or remote working in general. For the second session Dawn Haynes joined and shared some powerful messages around significance of the tester role and testing function. These feedback sessions served as a great platform to hear from some of the top experts in testing – their unassuming, approachable outlook created highly engaging conversations. I am hoping participants benefited from them – I was certainly delighted hosting them!
EuroSTAR Awards Ceremony
The event was concluded with the famous award ceremony to honour outstanding work. The conference speakers were awarded recognition, with Rikard Edgren earning the best tutorial award and Gitte Ottosen bestowed the best paper award.
Finally it was the big moment of the evening when the winner of Testing Excellent award was revealed. It was an utterly inspirational moment to find out it was the testing guru from Finland, Maaret Pyhäjärvi. An exemplary leader, teacher and mentor, international keynote speaker, author she has been hailed a tremendous advocate of supporting new people and learners. She has been a champion for equality and fighting for women. She has been credited for creating new ways of working with developers and as a paradigm shifter. Having published 2 books and delivered over 400 speeches, Maaret is an achiever of high order yet worked on empowering others in her journey which is highly admirable.
Maaret’s heartfelt and warm message highlighted her dedication for testing and for developing people. To meet such people who think-breathe-feel testing and relentlessly share that knowledge, that is what is the biggest take away of the conference for me – they ignite a fire in you that gets you going. Their infectious passion for testing makes you want to scale bigger heights. They personify excellence which makes you invoke your creative best. I congratulate Maaret on this accolade and also applaud EuroSTAR 2020 committee for having made this choice for excellence award.
It was delightful to learn of the 2021 committee chairman to be declared as Agile Testing Guru Fran O’ Hara. The theme for the next year’s conference is ‘engage’ which is bound to be a very interesting, given the many interpretations this word can have in the testing context. The format should be very interesting too as it would be available to be attended both online and in person. Here’s wishing Fran and the full team, the very best of luck for 2021!
There was a wonderful thank you note from Chairman Rik where he acknowledged all the people who worked tirelessly for the conference – the conference team, the committee members, the speakers, the participants and the volunteers. It was a humbling moment when he very kindly mentioned the reporter role too. I can only express my gratitude for this amazing opportunity to witness a congregation of testers from around the world – it is an incredibly fulfilling feeling. The learning and motivation I have had in the last three days is simply beyond any other mode or method possibly.
When the conference drew to a close it felt like a mixed bag of emotions – elation on the experience and sadness that it is time to conclude for this year. I couldn’t agree more with the thoughts shared by Rik Marselis, about feeling of my head bursting with information and heart filled with joy! The current times have made these opportunities of interaction so invaluable, it has made me feel alive again! Hope fellow participants carry the same feeling and hope the incredibly hardworking conference team can enjoy the feeling of accomplishment. As for me, it is time to reminisce and reflect as I bring my role to a conclusion with a final post-conference blog to be published shortly. My heartiest congratulations to the entire team of EuroSTAR 2020 on its tremendous success – a job well done, once again!