A community in contrast

I’ve not blogged recently for various reasons, both personal and professional. But on the anniversary of my blog, I want to return with a more positive attitude to it after a fallow period. This is a quick blog as way of a catch up over the last few months activities (other than my professional and personal ones). It’s an opportunity to share some of the highlights of my experiences in the testing community recently, which have been warm and welcoming during some difficult times.

A few months ago I attended the inaugural Brighton Testing Meetup, catching up with some of the good folk I last met at TestBash 3. Brighton is sort of my home town, yet I have never worked there so having a foot in the pond that is the testing community there has been a great thing. We talked, we ate and drank and shared ideas. Early plans have been made for my future involvement, leading talks and discussions around some exciting testing topics. Emma Keaveny and Kim Knup are developing a vibrant new community of interest and I can’t wait to be more involved. Roll on 2015.

The community of testing is as varied and as exciting as the variety of people who work and learn within it. This is a good thing, perhaps the greatest thing about the community…and this is where the contrast lies.

The same week I went to Brighton, I also attended the latest Special Interest Group in Software Testing conference. SIGIST is organised by established, more academic people in the testing industry, on behalf of the BCS. It meets quarterly in London. There were a number of interesting topics being discussed, but it didn’t set my heart on fire. Only one or two talks out of the whole day really engaged me with the subject matter. Whilst there was the opportunity to learn from some experienced practitioners, there  wasn’t the same emphasis on collaborative learning, challenging established testing paradigms and positive enquiry. It wasn’t a bad experience, it just didn’t make me more passionate about my craft, nor help me understand something new about testing. It was good however to catch up with some people who I have met before, and some who I hadn’t…but were on my radar. Namely Tonnvane WiswellDeclan O’Riordan, Paul Gerrard, and Mike Jarred.

Another recent experience has been with some of the free, online and collaborative forums for learning and discussion that I have participated in. Firstly, Stephen Blower’s Testing Couch forum. This is a free and open Skype forum for any testers who are interested in talking about their craft. In the couple of times that I have attended, the chat has always been productive, supportive and non judgemental. Stephen makes this forum available periodically, usually every month or two. It’s a fantastic opportunity for experienced or novice testers to throw ideas around, be challenged and share thinking and learning.

Lastly, and probably my most positive experience was being a guest speaker in October’s Weekend Testing Europe forum. I was sharing my recent learning and experience in software testing, leading the attendees in an exploratory session with security as the focus. To a lot of the people during the chat, security testing was a new concept for which they had little experience or opportunities to learn. It was incredibly rewarding to be able to facilitate this session, not only on a personal level, but also to see many others taking up the challenge of securing their applications, and considering security as part of their testing.

Amy Phillips and Neil Studd have really breathed new life into Weekend Testing Europe, which had been dormant for a while. Keep an eye out for WTEU in the future, as it is a great way of keeping in touch with the testing community around the world. Be prepared to go in with eyes open, lots of questions, and a hunger to learn. All you need to do is  volunteer two hours of your time on a Sunday afternoon. It sure beats watching Columbo repeats or traipsing round a garden centre.

So, that’s it for now. I’ll be blogging again soon. The Test Doctor will return!