Last week I made my first journey to TestBash Philidelphia put on by the Ministry of Testing. I have to admit, going in I had no idea what to expect. Over the years I’ve enjoyed the content the Ministry of Testing created and participated in a number of 30 Days of Testing challenges but how would their conference stack up to the online content? I was more than pleasantly surprised to discover that TestBash was fantastic and the online content is just a small taste of the community that the Ministry of Testing would provide and create. Below is just a small rundown of my thoughts on the conference.
Total transparency here, I’m short (under 5 feet tall) and I’m fat. Not in the cute, awe, you’re a little plump it’s more like I am fat and my body takes up space fat. So accessibility is always a concern for me. I was really pleased to find that the venue was very accessible! There were chairs without arms at ground level for those who may be using adaptive equipment (cane, wheelchair, etc.) and the arms on the theater seats lifted up to give more room. All of this was a huge win, the one downside was no t-shirts in my size, but Mark and Mel said they were going to do a run of larger sized shirts which 100% makes it right in my book and shows a desire to make sure everyone feels included and accommodated (Yes!).
At first I was a little wary of the single track format but it turned out to be awesome. Had there been multiple tracks there were talks on the technical side I would have skipped and that would really be a shame. For instance Paul Grizzaffi’s talk about finding intermittent issues through automation was really valuable and gave me a lot to think about it. I’m not an automation tester, but I now have a little more knowledge to help me pair with automation better. Also Kim Knup’s 60 Days of Performance Testing and Dan Billing’s How to be a Red Shirt and Survive gave me lots to think about and have peaked my interest in performance and security testing.
On the soft skills side, Martin Hynie and Paul Holland’s The Art of Clear Communication was filled with concepts that can be applied everywhere in your life, not just your dev team. It was engaging, funny, and thoughtful. If you ever get the chance to see either of them speak jump at the opportunity, it’s can’t miss if you ask me! Ash Coleman’s I’ve Got a Feeling: Thoughts About Myself and the State of Testing was a really honest look at Ash’s journey into testing and the current landscape in regards to diversity and inclusion. Something Ash said that really stuck with me, and if I’m honest gave me a solid gut punch was “If technology is the future and technology does not see people like me, what does that mean?”. Cassandra Leung’s How to Benefit from Being Uncomfortable is one more that I would probably have passed over if not for the single track, but thank goodness I didn’t! ***Let me get a little preachy for a minute, sometimes the universe, God, fate, whatever you call it puts you in a certain place at a certain time for a reason. If I’m being honest Ash, Dan’s and Cassandra’s talks fall in that category for me.*** Cassandra’s talk about learning to challenge yourself to do what feels uncomfortable and unsafe was a breath of fresh air. Cassandra was transparent and honest about her personal struggle with overcoming her fear of rejection and failure and it really resonated with me.
The TestBash Circus:
I had no idea to what to expect here, but it was a lot of fun and had some awesome takeaways. One of the most impactful for me was Test Management vs Test Coaching led by Stephen Janaway. This exercise really got me thinking about whether I want to develop testers or develop test culture. BJ Aberle’s workshop with the app Cydalion not only gave me exposure to AR and AR testing (that’s not Pokemon Go), it also got me thinking about accessibility for the visually impaired which frankly we ignore far too often in our testing. In total there were 10 workshops to pick from and I plan on recreating the Circus for our internal team of testers.
99 Second Talks:
I’ve never done a 99 Second Talk, aka a lightning talk before, but like so much else with TestBash, I’m really glad I did. Stay tuned for more about this in the future, when I’m ready I’ll talk about it.
So in short, TestBash was awesome. And TestBash wasn’t just awesome because I learned so much, TestBash was awesome because the Ministry of Testing is building a community of testers and is a refreshing bright light in the world of tech conferences. They have a code of conduct and I believe they will enforce it if needed, but I honestly couldn’t point to a single person in the room that would violate it. It’s truly safe space and that’s something I value.