Open Space conferences show why smaller can be better

By Matthew Heusser, CIO |  IT Management, Conferences

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At the end of the event, Barcomb runs a debrief in which people talk about their experiences and what they learned. Several people mention Paul Carvalho's Coaching game, which leads a small group through exercises to understand the perspective of people with different roles in the organization.

After Test Coach Camp, the 30-odd attendees go to the conference for the Association for Software Testing, where we create a one-hour presentation called "What I learned at Test Coach Camp." That talk is recorded and available on YouTube:

Agile Testing Open: Bridging the Communication Gap

The final event is Agile (Testing) Open Northwest (ATONW), organized by Diana Larsen, president of the Agile Alliance. Like Test Coach Camp, ATONW has a specific theme: Truly integrating the test process into agile software delivery.

The format of the sessions is similar to Test Coach Camp, too, with an easel and notes. Individuals propose sessions and, by proposing, also offer to host. At ATONW, hosting an event often means asking the audience questions, directing the flow and taking notes on an easel page.

Several sessions at ATONW dealt with the same issue: Regression testing for the current set of code to be deployed is a slow, painful process that can make a goal like "ship every week" seem impossible. Several sessions focus on test automation. Where most teams have programmers automating unit tests, nearly everyone present has human beings executing customer acceptance tests. A few people present have done successful test automation at the GUI level.

Michael Norton, a consultant at LeanDog, proposes a session titled "Help! My Automated Tests Are Out Of Control" Norton talks about the classic problems with large GUI automation test suites-how they are slow and brittle-and the group discusses how to break a complex test suite down into a reasonable selection of specific tests that do one thing at a time and do it well. I write down this idea-refactoring an aging test suite-to add to my list of tools.


Originally published on CIO |  Click here to read the original story.
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