Working as a software tester you always have to stay in touch with everything that is new in the field: technologies, tools, platforms, best practices etc. You read articles, blog posts, books or even syllabuses for various certifications. But joining software testing communities and attending conferences stays on top of all these because it is the best way to meet new people, share ideas and get in touch with the latest trends in the software domain. There are many events worldwide where people present their work in the field of software testing and EuroSTAR is one of the greatest events.
The way to EuroSTAR 2014
Since 2012 I have attended the events organized by the national community of software testing in my home city of Timisoara. It is called “Tabăra de Testare” (the testing camp) and it is a community of testers and other professionals in the IT industry where people share their knowledge and learn from the professional experiences of other members during informal monthly meetings. Monthly meetings at the Tabăra de Testare are organized by using Meetup, a dedicated events platform.
In October 2014 Tabăra de Testare organized the contest called “Tabăra de Testare is camping at EuroSTAR !”. I have entered the contest and written an article called “Tabăra de Testare – meeting people and sharing ideas”. I was fortunate enough to have my article drawn as the winner of the contest. So, I have won the prize: a 3 day conference ticket to EuroSTAR! The company I work for has taken care of accommodation and transport expenses.
The EuroSTAR conference
Every time I have searched for the main events that are held in Europe, EuroSTAR was always the most interesting conference found in the results list. The agenda always includes the most relevant topics presented by well known and experienced speakers from around the world. I always wanted to attend such a great event and now I got this opportunity!
The location in 2014
EuroSTAR is the premier and largest gathering of European software testing professionals. It takes place every year since 1993 in different cities like London, Edinburgh, Munich, Stockholm, Amsterdam and Brussels. In 2014 EuroSTAR was held in Dublin, Ireland. The venue was the CCD (Convention Center Dublin), a perfect place to host it.
The first day was reserved for tutorials and the next 3 days for the conference. As I have written before, I had access to the 3 days conference. There were keynotes held in the main auditorium followed by parallel presentation sessions which you could attend. You could choose between 4 different topics. The fact that you could see a short preview of all the topics on the conference website was very welcome. I liked the way each keynote started: before each keynote in the auditorium, highlights videos were displayed on the large screen above the stage while the official conference music was played. After that, the programme chair Paul Gerrard introduced the topic and its speaker and welcomed the speaker on stage. This also proves why EuroSTAR is such a great event! There were plenty of brakes for discussions between participants and speakers. An expo area for companies was also organized. There, you could interact both with companies that offer software testing services and with companies that develop software testing tools. For testing your skills and social activities, there was a testing lab available. Social events were held every evening in various places including the famous Trinity College and Guinness brewery for people to interact, chat and share experiences. In the lunch break I could try the traditional Irish food that was offered to the participants and in the evening an Irish band entertained us with traditional Irish music for about a half an hour.
In the end, the closing ceremony was really impressive because Paul Gerrard presented a summary of the 2014 edition and all organizers went on stage while a traditional Irish song was played in the background. He concluded the 2014 event by welcoming on stage the programme chair (Ruud Teunissen) for the next EuroSTAR conference that will be organized in 2015 in Maastricht, the Netherlands. Ruud announced the EuroSTAR 2015 theme “Walking the testing talk” and invited us to join the conference in 2015. During this closing ceremony I had a feeling I was attending the Olympic Games closing ceremony!
I have attended different presentations covering various topics like automation, skills, leadership, test strategy, agile and security. All of them were interesting and it was quite hard to decide which one to attend. I will further describe some of them which I liked very much.
The Internet of things presented by Andy Stanford-Clark (UK): Andy gave us an insight on how the Internet is growing and its impact on our lives. Nowadays, you can see in real time if your train, plane or ship is running on time. You can also monitor the electricity consumption in your home and the consumption of every home appliance like TVs or refrigerators directly on your smartphone or tablet via the Internet. All these require a large amount of data to be transmitted and the systems must be designed accordingly. Solutions should be based on some key aspects like scalability, availability and security
Gamification – How to engage and get help from users of a test framework, presented by Kristoffer Nordtröm (Sweden): Kristoffer presented to us how his company implemented a method to get more feedback for a test framework developed inside the company. All the employees were involved in a game: they were asked to participate with any idea that could improve the tool and they were rewarded with points for that. After obtaining a specific number of points, they got some prizes: t-shirts, pencils or coffee mugs. Basically, this activity is fun to do and it helps improve the activity within a company and the communication between people inside it.
Testing Traps to Avoid in Agile Testing presented by Janet Gregory (Canada): Janet summarized her experience with different problems she faced when applying the agile testing concept and she has put them into 5 categories called: Waiting for Tuesday’s Build, Testers aren’t “really” part of the team, Maintaining a “Quality Police” mindset, Trying to test everything manually, Forgetting the big picture. She has also presented the risks for every category and proposed some solutions in order to avoid problems.
What ? Why? Who ?How ? Of Application presented by Declan O’Riordan (UK) won the best presentation award at EuroSTAR 2014. Declan has a lot of experience in web application security and he has described to us the web applications vulnerabilities and he provided us with examples for possible risks and attacks. He also invited us to read some guidelines written by him which contain some best practices regarding web application security.
Diversity in your team – embrace it or lose the best thing you have presented by Julie Gardiner (Sweden) was my favorite presentation. She described a method to assess the testers’ working style by answering a set of questions. She identified 4 tester styles: the pragmatist, the pioneer, the analyst and the facilitator. The presentation was quite interactive because Julie let us complete the questionnaire and so we could discover our own testing style! To better understand these types, she explained the 4 types by giving examples on a certain situation and told us how a person belonging to each type would react in that specific situation.
Changing Mindsets – Learn, Test, Lead [by Example] presented by Alexandru Rotaru (Romania): Alexandru presented a way to change the mindset regarding the software testing activity and emphasized the importance of it. He talked about the software testing community in Romania called “Tabăra de Testare” (the testing camp), a community that he co-founded.
Attending the EuroSTAR conference was a great experience. It is simply one of the most important events in the software industry in Europe, a perfectly organized gathering of the best professionals in the domain and a tremendous opportunity for me to discover the latest trends in software testing.
Thank you EuroSTAR for organizing this great event and “Tabăra de Testare” for offering me the opportunity to attend the EuroSTAR conference!