My TestBash 2016 experience 

It’s now a week since my first ever TestBash, not only as an attendee but thanks to Rosie and Richard also as a speaker and workshop helper.

Arriving on Wednesday in Brighton made for a smooth start. Checking in, going to the beach for a few minutes and then heading off to the pub for the Pre-Pre-TestBash Meetup. I finally had a chance to meet Rosie, Kim and Emma in person. These three do so much great for the testing scene. Rosie world-wide and Kim and Emma organizing the Brighton meetups. And I got a chance to meet Pekka in person. What a show!
This being only my third conference I had the advantage of meeting several known faces again, which is a great feeling, and also meeting lots and lots of new faces. The good thing about this testing community is that people are integrated in no time. And TestBash is no difference there.
I also got a chance to meet Martha, Emma  Armstrong and Nicola Sedgwick, part of the folks I’d work with the next day as helper on the workshop day.

Arriving early for the workshop on Thursday at the Brighton Dome gave me a first idea of the venue the conference day will be in. And it’s a great place.

Nicola and Christina had a great set-up planned for their workshop and they were wonderfully prepared with those amazing sketch notes. Martha and I checked in the attendees and then we were joining the cafe crowd in the Dome, with Rosie and Julie. Using the chance to work on my slides some more, I also slipped in and out of the workshop to make some photos and getting some impressions. Then I was busy with some more organizing for the lunch break, and running errands with Martha. Leading the crowd to the Corn Exchange for lunch and then back to the room to rearrange for Emma’s workshop.

Emma’s topic was the visibility of testing. An important topic. “What are you doing?” – “I’m testing”. Well that doesn’t state much, and leaves room for a lot of interpretation. Emma brought that to awareness of the participants.
Emma created groups of four, in one of which I ended up filling in. And it was not just some group, I got the chance to pair up with Lisa Crispin. And what an inspiration she is. She’s just asking great questions, not counting on assumptions. When there is a PO, ask her. Focusing on visibility while also trying to test something was hard. But somehow we managed to find a way to make our testing visible and got the ideas Emma shared with us.

At nightfall it was time for the Pre-TestBash meetup at the OhSo at the beach. It was packed with testers. Again, several familiar faces, and lots of new faces. At some point I ended up in a corner speaking German with testers from the UK which were originally from Germany and some German speaking testers. But also meeting Noah Sussman was a great chance for me. I really like this guy and the opinion he shares on Twitter. Still fighting with a cold I nearly lost my voice in that bar. So I was heading back to the B&B earlier than planned to work more on my slides.

I got the chance to bounce off some ideas with Damian via DM that evening, which was a very calming help. So I changed and rearranged my slides some more. Hey, it was just the evening before the talk. 😉

The next morning I changed the slides some more, happy that my voice somehow survived, and headed to the Brighton Dome for the conference day. Checking in, getting my goody bag, giving my slide deck to Mark, and mingling in with the crowd. Of course meeting several new and familiar faces.

Then it was time for the conference. To be honest, I knew who would present, but I didn’t remember looking at the topics. On the one hand, I was nervous, on the other hand, it’s a single track conference. So just sit there and enjoy. I can assure you that Rosie and her team made a great choice plus my talk. And thanks to Mark and MC Vernon who made a great job to moderate the whole show, I was able to enjoy most of the morning sessions without too much nervousness.

Lisa and Emma talking in their keynote about building the right thing and sharing great stories. Dan talking about the importance of security testing, which he gladly seems not to be getting tired of. Katrina talking about pairing up for testing and how she set up the experiment at her company. And then it was showtime for John Stevenson and speaking about model fatigue. To be honest, I missed most of the show, and I’m glad that it’s being recorded. I got wired up and prepared for my talk.

By the time I was called to the stage I completely forgot my nervousness. The light in the dome made the audience more a vague existence. But not enough to prevent interacting with the crowd, which was good. Long story short, time passed quickly and my talk went over a few minutes, which (sadly) left no time for Q&A.

And off to lunch with Helena, who gave me immediately some honest and great feedback. And also helped me how to improve my talk, if I want to show it again.

At lunch serendipity struck again. Out of the 300+ people I could sit next to, I sat down next to a tester from Munich who works now with a former colleague of mine. Funny coincidence!

After lunch we were in for a treat. Another first time conference speaker. Michael “Wanz” Wansley, yes, the Grammy awarded singer, who happens to be also a tester for Microsoft, sharing his story as Gatekeeper. What a stage presence and a great show!

Anna and Andrew talked next about their experience with setting up the right approach and amount of test automation in their company.
Nicola Sedgewick talked about a very sensitive topic. How thick the skin of a tester has to be. And she described too many things that are way familiar to me, which made the talk a very special and emotional one for me.
Bill Matthews spoke about one of the most interesting topics for the immediate future. How to test smart algorithms. A very interesting challenge. And I will try to spend some time in the near future to think about that topic more.
Last it was another first time speaker. Nicola Owen talked about her experiences with being part of a test team with no own chance for decisions and being the only tester on a team and her challenges with both extremes.

Then it was time for a lot of great 99 second talks. A lot of those people we will see back on stage soon, I’m pretty sure. And I don’t mean those that we see from time to time on conference stages around the world already.

Off we went to the Mesmerist for some food and Post-TestBash mingling, including a song, poetry slams and parrot jokes. I got some time to talk more with Mark and Martha, met Dr. Jess, and had a great long talk with Danny.

On Saturday morning I joined the crowd at the Breakfast Club for a cup of tea, and because it was too tough to say goodbye to the amazing folks at TestBash.

But now my vacation started, getting my wife and my daughter from the airport for some more time to spend in Southern England.

Thank you TestBash for this amazing experience and being an outstanding conference on the schedule. I will always remember you!