Agile Testing Days 2022

Ash on stage at Agile Testing Days in Potsdam – taken from a tweet by Jit Gosai.

Agile Testing Days 2022 had been a long time in the making. After agreeing to speak in 2020, a pandemic and a couple of cancellations later we were finally on the way to Potsdam. I must admit, that even up until the last minute, I thought that something would mean that the trip would be cancelled. I think many of us remain suspicious in the new pandemic world.

Tutorial Day

On the Monday, I gave a tutorial on performance engineering. It wasn’t something I had done for a while and I’m going to be kind to myself and say that it was satisfactory. A bit of insight in the topics and content to frame why I say that:

  • Performance engineering contains some lofty ideals around creating a culture that celebrates performance and resilience improvement. At least as much as the building of a new feature.
  • Adding some hands on time with a couple of load testing tools (Artillery and Locust) for different purposes to lean the tutorial towards some of the inevitable technical and tooling aspects.

Often with a wide topic with a few different themes, especially those with social and technical parts. the split dilutes the content. Anyway, the attendees walked away with:

  • An example application with a Prometheus instance.
  • Starter projects for Artillery and Locust
  • Team Performance Health-check questions, guidance for Designing for Performance and a few other models.

All in all, I hope I provided a solid set of principles and tools to kickstart a performance engineering effort.

Speakers Dinner

This was great, loads of faces I’d not seen for a while plus some new friends (Malte) on our table who said in Germany while toasting you never toast across one another and look the toaster in the eye. Also, thanks to Vera for helping to communicate my vegan-ness to our hosts.

After a tough day of teaching, this was a very welcome to relax with friends in a positive atmosphere. I slept well.

Tuesday Awards

For the second time Janet Gregory was awarded the MIATPP Award, well deserved given her contribution! For my part, I won the Agile Testing Days Strava Running Challenge, the prize being an Apple Watch. I was amazed at this prize, all those kilometres I ran in many different weathers felt even more worth it. I also failed to go for a run during the conference, even though I brought my running gear. Too cold.

The night was then partied away, you’ve all seen the pictures!

Wednesday Book Club

I took part in a new book club session to Agile Testing Days. Maik Nog is something of a collector, so I think I can see the motivation behind the idea. Everyone had a few minutes to pitch their books, so I made some notes and took along five copies of the Team Guide to Software Testability, which I gave away for free and practiced my author signing skills. I also bought a copy of Would Heu-Risk it? by Lena Pejgan Wiberg, to complement the cards available on the Ministry of Testing store.

Thursday KEYNOTE

I had to wait a couple of days to give me keynote address, by the time we got to Thursday lunchtime I was ready. After waiting for two and a half days I would have delivered the talk to an empty room to be honest!

I wanted to give a hopeful talk about how testers can influence their organisations, even though sometimes it feels that the organisation is actively working against you. While I think it is true that testers often feel the sharp end of poor organisation design, tools like those in the Team Topologies book can really help. An organisation is a system crying out to be tested after all, so having some patterns and tools might go a very long way!

I had a blast on stage, enjoyed telling tales of organisation design good and bad, plus how you can contribute to a better organisation as a tester.

Honourable Talk Mentions

Four talks I want to mention, of the many great talks across the conference:

  • Refining your Test Automation approach in modern context by Toyer Mamoojee – I thought this was a super talk by Toyer. Well thought out approaches, based on experience, working in a long view of challenges faced in the test automation space. All teased out into a model for refining your work. I found myself nodding in agreement a lot.
  • Why we failed at building in testability by Jit Gosai – a timely reminder that testability is a cultural concern as well as a technical one. Maintaining a focus on testability as the team changes is really hard, not all your improvement and practices will stick in the long term.
  • Why We Can’t Wait to Automate by Tariq King – I had never seen Tariq speak plus he was talking about how to test new technologies (or combinations of technologies) which has always been an interesting topic. Testing is always playing catch up, desperately attempting to find ways to test early technology, usually too late. Its good to know there are testers on the cutting edge like Tariq.
  • Happiness is Quality by Gwen Diagram – I like the idea that happier teams produce better quality software, I have seen so many tired, unhappy teams producing low quality software that there must be better ways. Gwen did a great job in this talk describing a better way via her own organisations journey.

After the conference it was off to Berlin for Christmas markets, museums, a drop or two of Roter Glühwein to recover from it all…