Reflections on TestBash 2014

The events of this years TestBash are just starting to sink in. You see, Brighton is basically my home town. I love it there. I grew up in nearby Burgess Hill and my family still live in the area. Brighton’s wondrous variety was always a massive draw, pulling you in like a magnet.  Brighton has a creative beating heart like no other city in the country. So coming to Brighton for TestBash now for the second time, is a bit emotional for me. I’m proud that TestBash is in Brighton, and that Rosie puts such hard work and dedication into the events surrounding the big day, and of course the conference itself.

So the week of TestBash began with a trip up to the Sheffield Tester Gathering, organised by Stephen Blower. Info about the meetup can be found here: I was lucky enough to go and present my talk “New Adventures in Security Testing”. It was a great experience being able to share ideas about how to go about kickstarting Security Testing from scratch with little experience. Here’s the Storify for the meetup: We even had a round of the “Coin Game”…which I think is for another post.

Back down to Sussex for TestBash…led to catching the end of Stephen Janaway’s course on Mobile testing, hosted by Ministry of Testing. It’s a fascinating area of testing I know very little about, so it was good to pick his brains over this and other topics afterwards at the pub. I’m looking forward to catching up with Stephen and his colleague Dan Ashby on the Testing in the Pub podcast soon, where I will be talking about Security Testing. You can find their podcast here:

Whilst there, I bumped into someone I have been following on Twitter for a while; one Emma Keavney (@EmJayKay80) who immediately made an impact on me with her enthusiasm for her new career, looking to make connections anywhere she could find them; and generally being the reason why TestBash exists. That is I feel to give passionate testers a forum, a place to talk, learn and explore ideas and generate contacts in the industry. Her 99 second talk at the end of the day earned a well deserved cheer!  Here she is in the TestBash Flickr album!

Lean Coffee is a great way to start the day, with discussion and debate going on across the room. Chris George at RedGate facilitated this year, following on from Lisa Crispin last year. You are timeboxed and voted for and against the topics you chose, so you need to keep on your toes…but it is breakfast after all, so not too stressful.

Obviously we go to TestBash to see the speakers as well! I enjoyed something from all the talks, but  big highlights for me came in the form of Mark Tomlinson, Jez Nicholson, Stephen Blower and Keith Klain.

Mark had a fascinating talk on Contextual Decision Making in Testing demonstrated how our minds operate when testing, examining the unknown and known factors that come into play whilst we test…as well as the infamous spinning cat.

Jez was talking about how we can we as testers can engender great relationships in the workplace, with developers and managers alike. His insights resonated with how I have grown to feel about the dev/test relationship over time and that is we aren’t in competition with developers and other testers but need to work together effectively.

Similarly Keith Klain explained how as testers we need to improve we way we discuss (or not discuss) testing with senior managers, who don’t necessarily want all the nitty gritty detail of a bug, or test results. It’s just about shipping product that works, on time and to cost and nailing those messages.

Stephen Blower: Inspiring Testers


Inspiring Testers was the name of the game for Stephen Blower. Earlier in this post I mentioned that Stephen runs the Sheffield Tester Gathering. He uses this forum to inspire testers in his area, and from all over the place. He wasn’t afraid to say that if he felt that he wasn’t adding value, or getting what he wanted from a business, he was happy to move on or make big changes to get things done. Stephen is a really supportive chap anyway, leads a lot of the social activities, testing games and chat that goes on afterward at the pub. If you get a chance to play the coin game or pen game with him, then these will certainly stretch your thinking. Be prepared!

TestBash after party with Stephen Blower @badbud65 and Richard Bradshaw @FriendlyTester
TestBash after party with Stephen Blower @badbud65 and Richard Bradshaw @FriendlyTester

And there we have it. To the pub. The social side of TestBash is what attracts me as much as anything else. There is a great, relaxed atmosphere. All the really interesting conversations happen at the pre and post TestBash meetups. If you miss them, then you really are missing out on the heart and soul of TestBash. In 2015 I will definitely be there…and I will almost certainly be submitting a talk. I can’t wait.

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