Reflections on CAST 2019

For the last 3 days I’ve been in Cocoa Beach in (mostly) sunny Florida for CAST 2019. Cloudiness and a bit of rain helps me to feel at home to be fair. This was my first CAST, so I was excited to arrive, the line up looked great plus there were a bunch of friends I wanted to catch up with.

Sessions attended…

Over the two days I attended:

  • Charity Majors – Observability and Complex Systems – Charity was great, strong opinions about observability being a first class concern and its ability to make your work more humane in the face of complexity resonated with me. Combining observability and exploration seems to me to be a powerful direction for testers to take. Plus adding an extra lens to your test automation so, green builds will yield more information. I will be researching even deeper into this area when I get home.
  • João Proença – Being a Tester After Trying Almost Everything Else – I loved this description of his journey. Into testing, out again and back by a different route, with equal amounts of serendipity and following his passions. Careers are not straight lines, as much as we might fool ourselves into that belief. More talks like this please.
  • Trisha Chetani – Creating Test Stability to Create Continuous Delivery – Trisha talk was a story of a team transforming their test automation which then transformed their whole team ways of working. The changes made were phenomenal, Trisha should be very proud. A healthy dose of testability, plus a skeptical mind when it came to deciding what to automate made a big difference.
  • Shekhar Ramphal – 5 Levels of API Test Automation – I saw Shakes speak at Let’s Test 2018 in Johannesburg so I thought I would see what he had been up to since. The use of proxies for test reliability was an impressive addition, rather than multiple stubs. There was a spirited discussion regarding DAMP and DRY, on just how much you should refactor test code. For me, obsession with DRY leads to over abstraction where readability suffers. Good to see the ideas being discussed robustly though.
  • Ash Coleman – Your Everyday Tester – Ash tells great stories which have compelling messages. I only tweeted afterwards as I was listening intently. As testers we often discuss to what extent we can represent the users in our testing. The message from Ash was that our own lives and experiences give us a rich source of empathy to draw from. Representing users is one thing, but its OK to represent yourself as well.

Over to me…

I came to CAST 2019 intent to deliver two pieces of content to the audience:

The 10 P’s of Testability

The 10 P’s of Testability were created by Rob Meaney, my good friend and co-author of The Team Guide to Testability. I think its really powerful model for describing the health of your teams testing efforts, plus it speaks to holistic nature of testability. So many factors affect how hard to test your system is, the 10 P’s can help you find the challenges. At CAST I delivered a 5 minute tirade on the 10 P’s, I hope to be able to deliver it elsewhere, spread the word!

Testers Guide to the Illusions of Unit Testing

This tweet to blog to talk to workshop always contains some great questions and sharing of experiences. For me, unit testing is good barometer of the health of developer and tester interactions and speed of feedback for your product. We managed to discuss the testing pyramid without serious upset too, which is unusual for the testing community. I always get new insights and ideas from this session, so I hope the attendees did too.

There are a few links to share regarding the workshop:

A big thank you to Pradeep Soundararajan for inviting me to take part in his recordings on leadership in testing, I really enjoyed talking leadership and testability with you. As always, a special mention for Martin Hynie for conspiring with me throughout, drawing up notes. models, questions and all the other things an enquiring mind does. Thank you my friend.