A Delegate Report about Agile Testing Day Netherlands 2016

A few weeks ago I had ordered the afternoon ticket which included the last sessions of the afternoon, a dinner, and the evening sessions. (I am still figuring out, what an afternoon actually is.) A complete day filled with sessions would spoil my appetite for knowledge.
Luckily I was right.

Open Space
One of the strangest elements of the conference was the Open Space. It was a group of testers looking for answers and testers willing to share those. It was a setting requiring special attention and a good moderator. Alex Schladebeck took her role seriously by pointing out the rules (Look mom. Without slides!) and using her candour to illustrate several examples. With more questions than available slots two groups started discussing their questions separately.

Once again I noticed that there was not a single right answer. Looking at the context was very important. Attendees go to a conference to get more insights or answers for questions. And an open space is a safe environment to exchange thoughts with other peers.

Nowhere And Back Again
Thom Bradford is An American in Berlin. He was using cue cards like Gambit. No special effects were used, so the stage was not damaged during his talk. He recalled his last decades as a software engineer, who had some unpleasant experiences. It was obvious that he was reluctant to switch company.

Thom described the symptoms of companies which he tried to avoid: “Monolithic piece of code” or “Working students” assigned to solve bugs. Then he mentioned Drive of Daniel Pink. Good companies looked at

  • Autonomy
  • Mastery
  • Purpose

It led to the following situation. He had to break mastery: he showed Clojure to appalled Java programmers.

Thom had real doubts about code coverage as KPI or Key Performance Indicator. During the presentation he started an automated test, which showed an impressive 100 % coverage and only positive test results. Clean Code and TDD were better than code coverage. This sounded like a SOLID advice to me.  (Pun intended).

The Need For Speed
Emanuil Slavov had somehow dehydrated his ATD 2015 talk to 30 minutes. And he had more to tell than it was humanly possible in the allotted time slot. So the speed was really necessary. It was Flash as a Speaker.

With impressive numbers he showed the reduction of automated tests from 3 hours to 3 minutes.
“Three minutes sounded nice, so we aimed on this limit.”
A lot of measures sounded logical in hindsight like a separate test environment and a test database, which had a minimal set of records. There was also an unexpected (temporary) setback like moving to containers.

Emanuil also referred to three books:

  1. The Goal:A Process of Ongoing Improvement
  2. Toyota Kata
  3. Flashboys

I had read only one. Number 3 was unexpected.

Collaborative Infrastructure Delivery
“This session will be more technical than the previous one.”, Christoph Lukas began.
I smiled inwardly.

Infrastructure as a code has the same characteristics as code. Using TDD he first developed a test. The first test run led to an error. Of course! Nothing was executed or set up. Using a flurry of Xterms (?) he slowly built the desired environment with components.

Workshop previously known as Understanding and testing RESTful Web Services
Mark Winteringham introduced the delegates to Postman, which can be dowloaded for free from getpostman.com. This tool looked to me as a small and compact tool. Ideal to explore the interface.

In the briefing Mark explained, how http is used. He introduced his thoughts about web testing and then encouraged the attendees to go postal on an example web service.

Because of some technical restrictions I paired with another tester. I fell in a familiar trap: test without note taking.
(What could possibly go wrong in 10 minutes? A lot.)
Mark did a debriefing which provided a decent way to catch up with my notes.

In between I discussed the use of SoapUI with another tester. It was a more powerful tool with a subscription.

How we connect to the Internet of Things
In the last keynote at 08:15 in the afternoon Bart Knaack and James Lyndsay had a look at the latest hottest topic IoT or Internet of Things. Or Ignore other Things :). They started to model the internet and then focused on Things.
“This is Thing”, Bart explained.
An orange super hero was shown on the slide.

Then the gentlemen connected an electronic device with the Internet utilising IFTTT or IF This, Then That. This rule based web service was used to change the behaviour of the device i.e. flashing in the assigned colour in the assigned frequency. A Twitter message led to pink flashing LEDs laid out in a circle. It was cumbersome to connect with the smartphones of the attendees. Establishing the right connection for testing was really difficult.

Was IoT really different from other systems under Test? There was no difference with GSM testing on a higher level: protocol testing was demonstrated by 3 processes impersonated by Bart, James, and Alex.

Then I got the message:

  • Look at the differences in technologies.
  • Find a way to address them.
  • Look at tests performed in the past and
  • Reuse those test ideas.

And then
I hurried to catch my bus. I did not wait until the last one. This one was big enough for me.


How to Speed Up Mind Mapping

A few days after giving a brief introduction to mind mapping I met one of the attendees. The test consultant told me, how she used mind mapping during an interview. The most remarkable sentence I still remember, was:
“Excuse me. I have to change my marker.”
She had paper and enough colour markers. But not enough time.

Mind Mapping For Colour Blind People or Another Way To Mind Map Fast
Mind maps made by beginners often lack colours and pictures. These errors are so basic, that I should point them out. You might call it Standard Teaching Mode. My first mind map teacher had a refreshing look: if the mind map serves the purpose, then it is all right.

Years ago I found an intriguing question on a mind map forum:
How can you make mind maps for colour blind people?
Colours could not be used in a normal way. So I gave it some thought:

  • Draw the edges of the branch.
  • Fill the branch with a pattern.

Patterns for branches

Here are other patterns and a way to grow branches:

Other patterns for branches

Of course different colours can be used: dark and light colours.

Coloured branches

For a colour blind person this looks like this:

Black and grey version of branches

During my holiday I was preparing for my lecture about mind mapping and testing. I had only one pen and a notebook. A multi coloured mind map was out of the question. There was enough time though. I had to wait for a washing machine and a drying machine. I used some of the patterns described above.

Hybrid Mind Mapping
I had a paper with a mind map and a pen. The mind map generated by a mind map program contained test ideas for a test session with the supplier. I could not walk to my desktop to update the mind map, so I extended the image on the hard copy with my pen. I checked the used test ideas and discovered a new one:
“Would you please enter the following input?”
Four people including Yours Innocently saw the program crashing within seconds.

Things to explore
What I like about mind map programs:

  • It is easy to move branches by selecting and releasing them on the right spot.
  • Notes are great to add detailed information to branches. It saves me time to remember things.
  • I like icons and relationships to add an extra layer of information.
  • I like XL Copy & Paste between the mindmap program and other programs.Before the meeting I had copied the contents of some cells of a table to a text editor. A row of items were shown. At the beginning of the meeting I announced to my colleague:
    “I have to show you something.”
    I selected the text in the text editor, then I moved my mouse to the central idea or center of the mind map and released the left mouse button.
    The mind map program added new branches with the names of the items. I heard: “Wow.”
    Disclosure: first I tried to copy the data directly from the spreadsheet to the mind map, but I got a lot of empty branches. So I changed my demonstration. It just took me some exploration to save some time and score a Wow.

Did you notice that?
The program manager was not pleased, that I interrupted her during the meeting. Her anger increased, when I told, that a test environment was not available on time. So I was drawn in a new meeting.
“You make a short report about this meeting.”, was the undeniable request to me .

Minutes later two managers were discussing a test environment in the hallway. I had no pen and no paper. My hand automatically reached for my smartphone (Muscle memory in action!). I opened a mind map program and started adding branches with key words. I had enough time.