5 things I learned at STARCanada 2014

p1.png.jpgI’ve just returned from the STARCanada conference, which was held at the Toronto Hilton.  I was there to attend the keynote and track presentations, and also to present a track session on cross-browser testing.  HP had a booth where delegates were welcome to pick up their ‘Keep Calm, Carry On Testing’ button (anyone seen wearing the button during the conference had the chance to win an Amazon gift card =) ), and to discuss our Application Lifecycle Management and Testing tools with our staff, and see product demos.

 

I was able to step away from the event and experience some of the sights in the area. As a result I was able to learn some valuable insights at the event and from the nature around it.  Here are the main things I learned while I was there:

 

 

1) Niagara Falls is still frozen!

Well, not completely.  But there’s still a lot of ice there, and it’s breathtaking!  I arrived in Toronto on Sunday evening and spent Monday morning rehearsing my presentation.  Once I felt confident, I realized that any discussion of Agile would not be complete without some research on waterfalls. To help me research waterfalls, I decided to go to Niagara Falls on the spur of the moment.  I walked ten minutes to the Union Street bus terminal, where I caught a bus to the Niagara Falls bus terminal.  Two hours later, I walked the twenty minutes along the Niagara River to the actual falls.  It was a clear day, and visibility was great, so I got to see all the scenery on the way.  I walked up to and past the falls, enjoying the chilly clear air—and the fact that there were hardly any tourists, since it was off-season.  The weather deteriorated somewhat on the way back into Toronto, and I captured the CN Tower with its head in the clouds.  Fortunately, the weather was great on my last day in Toronto, so my colleague Silvia and I took the opportunity to go up the Tower.

 

Here's a picture of the frozen falls:

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“Hey, you guys in the upper observation deck!  Ask for your money back!”

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The (stunning) view of the city from the CN Tower on my last day in Toronto:

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2) Lots of people are doing cross-browser testing

p5.pngOver the past year or so, many people have approached me about the challenges of cross-browser testing, so I wrote a white paper on the subject to answer the most common questions (you can get it here).  I decided to submit a proposal about it to STARCanada 2014, which was accepted for a session in the ‘Test Techniques’ track.  My session was extremely well attended, with 40 people in the audience, reinforcing the fact that cross-browser testing is still a major challenge that is affecting most organizations today. 

 

 

 In fact, as the room was filling up, I overheard one of the members of the audience say “I’ve been waiting for this session for weeks!”  I went over to her, and asked her why it’s so important.  She told me that her organization (in the finance domain) requires that her team tests their product on 27 combinations of browsers and operating systems, and she welcomes any advice she can get to increase her team’s efficiency and coverage.  I wondered if it was imperative that all 27 combinations be tested, and whether some analysis had been done to determine if all 27 combinations were actually in use. 

 

Google Analytics comes in useful for this kind of research.  If you can show management that only a small subset of the combinations are being used, you may be able to convince them that you can drop support for those that aren’t used, and instead put the resources to work on increasing coverage of the combinations that are supported.

 

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The audience was great – they laughed at the right bits, were attentive in the right places, and asked some good questions at the end.  I managed to get a quick glance at the feedback forms afterwards, and was happy to see that the talk was well-received.

 

 

3) Manual Testing is alive and well 

OK, so this actually something I already knew, but I think it’s worth mentioning.  The title of my presentation was “A Guide to Cross-Browser Functional Testing”, and I explicitly stated in the description that it will address both automated and manual testing.  After the presentation, quite a few people asked about HP tools for manual testing, specifically HP Sprinter.  Sprinter is free, and works with HP ALM to help you perform exploratory testing, and execute tests on different platforms and browsers.  It has a plethora of great features, and if you’re not familiar with it, my colleagues Brian Palagyi and Michael “Doc” Deady feature in a short video describing Sprinter’s key capabilities.  You can even export your manual Sprinter tests and import them into HP UFT to create an automated test.

 

4) People tend to prefer not to discuss Enterprise Agile over lunch

p7.jpgSTARCanada has a ‘Meet the Speakers Lunch’ concept, where speakers at the conference can host a table at lunch, and get to choose the topic of discussion.  I’ve been looking into how large enterprises are adopting Agile processes throughout their organization, so I chose “Testing in the Agile Enterprise” as my topic.  Only three people (other than myself) turned up at the table. We had a good discussion, but I think it would have been even better if more people joined us.  If you’re interested in talking to me about it (over lunch or otherwise), leave a comment in the box at the bottom and I’ll get in touch with you…

 

 

5) 'Conference' means going to interesting places to meet interesting people

I always enjoy the opportunity to catch up in person with my HP colleagues, and meeting new people.  Brian McQuillan and Silvia Siqueira were the HP Marketing force behind the event, with HP Solution Architect Bryan Cole in attendance to talk about Performance Testing Mobile Applications.  Brian and Silvia were joined at the booth by HP partners George and Chris from ResultsPositive.  But hey, I can talk to these guys any time!  The real stars of the conference were the speakers and delegates, the people who came to talk about what they do, and those who came to listen to them. It was a privilege and honor to spend time talking to them and hearing about the challenges they face and overcome every day while doing their jobs, whether as developers, testers, managers, or product owners.

 

Here's a picture of part of the audience as I was getting ready to start my presentation:

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Were you at the conference?  Share your experiences with us by leaving a comment in the box below!

Labels: Agile Testing
Comments
Sebastian7760(anon) | ‎04-25-2014 04:20 AM

Agile makes easy software development process. It provides opportunities to assess the direction of a project throughout the development lifecycle. It assumes that every requirement of the project can be identified before any design or coding occurs.

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About the Author
Malcolm is a functional architect, focusing on best practices and methodologies across the software development lifecycle.


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