Vlogs, webinars, podcasts, comprehensive e-books, and blog posts… With so many sources of knowledge at your fingertips, you might feel that there’s no point in attending conferences anymore. After all, who would exchange the comfort of their own home for a crowded lecture hall?
It turns out, however, that the belief in the internet’s limitless educational potential is in most cases false. How is that possible? The answer is simple: it all boils down to the human interaction bolstering the quality and the amount of data one can acquire.
Reasons you should take part in conferences
The innumerable advantages of attending conferences and workshops conducted in real life would make a perfect material for a separate article. Nonetheless, to make you aware of how much you’re missing if you’re not participating in such events, let us single out just a few major ones.
- Rediscovering passion.
No matter how diverse your everyday tasks are, it’s only natural to feel overwhelmed and fed up with them every once in a while. Attending a conference provides a break from the 9 to 5 routine and, thanks to the temporary change of the work environment, breathes new life into the enthusiasm you once felt for fulfilling your duties.
In the digital era, developing and fostering relationships in real life may prove to be especially fruitful. Whether you’re catching up with former co-workers, getting to know like-minded individuals from the industry, or meeting role models who inspire your professional growth, networking can result in referrals, brilliant ideas, and increased motivation. Moreover, if you’re eager to share your knowledge with others, it may help you position yourself as an expert.
- Broadening horizons.
Last but not least, conferences and meetups serve primarily an educational function. The internet may be flooded with information on the latest trends; however, to cut through the clutter of worthless news, one often needs to be guided by an expert. Furthermore, attending a convention can help you stay ahead of the curve thanks to panels and talks on the newest findings that haven’t made it to the media yet.
The list of reasons for participating in business conferences could go on and on. We hope, however, that the above-mentioned three points are enough to convince you that becoming a part of a knowledgeable community IRL is not a waste of time or money.
Software Testing Conference 2019
What is TestingCup all about?
Being aware of all benefits of attending conferences, Apptension’s QA team decided to participate in the 2019 edition of TestingCup – a prestigious software testing event held annually for 7 years now.
Since the beginning, its aim has been to educate the testing community by bringing together quality assurance specialists from all around the globe. Organized each year in a different Polish city (the 2019 headquarters was Poznań Congress Center), it’s based on two pillars: the software testing championship and the conference.
Software testing championship
To cut a long story short, the first part of the event is all about testing Mr Buggy application against the provided specification and reporting as many relevant bugs as possible. It’s safe to say that the aim of the contest is to assess the skills that a professional quality assurance specialist should possess, including:
- quick comprehension of the provided specification,
- apt identification of critical paths based on app description and specification,
- effective and comprehensive critical path testing.
Additionally, the championship puts to test soft skills, such as:
- eagerness to collaborate with the team,
- impeccable communication skills,
- ability to ask the right questions,
- propensity to trust one’s gut,
- readiness to work under pressure.
The 2019 championship, much like the previous editions, offered the possibility of competing in two categories: individual, which caught the attention of 41 venturers, and team, which was attended by 80 groups. This year, Apptension made its mark in the latter category thanks to the joint efforts of Dorota, Patrycja, and Tomasz.
Apptension TestingCup dream team
Our team’s work started even prior to the championship with ensuring that they possess the relevant software and hardware, such as a laptop with Microsoft Windows or Postman for API testing. Right before the beginning of the competition, they received all the necessary resources, including:
- championship’s regulations,
- Mr Buggy installer,
- Mr Buggy documentation,
- API documentation documentation,
- change request documentation for which a comprehensive test plan had to be written.
Let the game begin
Mr Buggy 7, which was subject to software testing this year and which you can download here, has turned out to be one of the most challenging in the entire history of TestingCup. Here’s what Patrycja has to say about it:
The app serves to create and manage change requests. It sets apart the following types of users: admin, vendor, or provider. Having three roles with a different set of permissions each at your disposal induces frequent logins and logouts. Without a doubt, this was a pretty complex application to test.
Mr Buggy 7, however, was only the tip of the championship iceberg. The real challenge was to work out a strategy for successfully going through the entire quality assurance process in less than three hours.
Our team getting down to work
Approaches adopted by respective groups varied from delving through the documentation in the first place to plunging instantly into testing. Our team chose an in-between path of each undertaking a different task: compiling a testing plan, exploratory testing, and API testing.
The competition day was concluded with an evaluation session. At that point, all participants were granted access to a list of bug categories created by the organizers. By setting this classification against the backlog of reported defects, the teams could get the idea of how high their final score will probably be.
Participation in the Software Testing Championship entails having fun and winning prizes. Its most important element, however, is gaining experience and drawing conclusions which can help you grow professionally in the future. Here are our team’s key takeaways regarding taking part in the first day of TestingCup 2019:
- Being on the same page with organizers reduces stress.
Prior to the championship day, participants are informed of all software and hardware requirements. While it may sound self-evident, it’s essential to make sure that your equipment meets all of them. After all, you wouldn’t like to find out that you’ve brought a MacBook instead of a regular Windows notebook with you or that you don’t have access to the admin account, would you?
- Good strategy is crucial.
The Software Testing Championship lasts 3 hours in total. During that time teams have to test Mr Buggy from top to bottom, report all the bugs, and write a test plan. On top of that, they receive documentation, which this year only encompassed almost 30 pages in total. The real challenge is to draft a realistic action plan and prioritize tasks at the very beginning of the competition.
Our performance could have been better aligned with the nature of the competition. I was testing the app against the documentation from the very beginning, Tomasz undertook to test API, while Dorota took charge of writing the test plan.
Had we been testing the app against the documentation from the start, we would probably report less invalid bugs and, as a result, score higher. We’ve also found out that reporting bugs on the go would save us more time than doing this at the last minute – says Patrycja.
- Preparation reduces stress.
Let’s make one thing clear: with a different version of Mr Buggy each year, you can never know what to expect. Nonetheless, you can get ready for TestingCup by conducting a simulation during which you’ll spend a couple of hours with your team doing nothing but testing. This will help you determine your strengths, assign roles within a team, and work out the most effective way of communicating with one another.
You can also go one step further and reach out for expert support. Our team, for instance, took part in a pair testing workshop conducted by Karolina Pawłowska. During the meeting, they practised exploratory testing and mob testing, which prepared them for collaboration during the actual competition.
Regardless of the time pressure, stress, and other difficulties, the TestingCup Championship has turned out to be a really valuable experience for our quality assurance specialists.
Participation in the competition definitely improved our self-esteem. It proved our worth as experts with solid software testing skills and showed that our unique skills complement one another – says Dorota, QA Manager at Apptension and the leader of our TestingCup team.
Conference for quality assurance specialists
The second pillar of TestingCup is the conference, during which the participants are given a chance to learn from the best software testing experts. The agenda is divided into talks and workshops, some of which take place simultaneously. When not attending either of these, you can talk to the event’s sponsors and take part in fun challenges or competitions they organize.
Similarly to the previous editions, this year, the speakers’ list included professionals from all over the world, e.g. from Finland, Germany, Romania, the Netherlands, India, and of course Poland. The multiplicity and diversity of topics covered is a considerable advantage of the conference. One of the workshops our team found the most enjoyable and useful was Becoming a plumber – designing and implementing the delivery pipeline as code by Michał Krzyżanowski.
Patrycja and Tomasz during the pipeline workshop
Source: TestingCup fanpage
The workshop was carefully planned and very well organized. Michał thoroughly discussed the entire process of designing and implementing delivery pipeline with the use of tools like Docker and Jenkins.
Theory was combined with a highly instructive practical part during which we could try our hand at designing the process ourselves. Another advantage of this workshop was that it gave me a chance to meet other brilliant software testers. – Tomasz, Apptension’s Quality Assurance Specialist
RAIL model basic performance testing
Our team, however, was present not only in the auditorium but also onstage – all thanks to Patrycja Markowska. Our QA Specialist gave a presentation on RAIL model basic performance testing which covered Google’s RAIL model, the use of Chrome Dev Tools, and conducting an actual performance audit on Apptension’s in-house resource management software, Teamdeck. Here’s Patrycja comment on being a speaker on TestingCup:
My audience consisted mostly of people who use Dev Tools but aren’t familiar with RAIL model. As I was in their shoes a couple of years ago, I wanted to introduce them to RAIL in the most inspiring way I can. Soon after the presentation one of the listeners told me that she’s beginning to see how Google’s model will work for her, so I guess I achieved my goal.
Patrycja giving a presentation on RAIL model
Source: TestingCup fanpage
In 2019 the event’s attendees could assess the performance of the speakers in the TestingCup application. Thanks to this solution, we can say with full confidence and pride that Patrycja’s presentation was one of the best ones this year. After all, her score 4,63 / 5 speaks for itself.
Rewards for being a speaker at a conference? Fame, self-confidence… and delicious treats!
So is the game worth the candle?
Definitely yes, provided that you belong to the event’s target audience. The championship is by no means easy and the conference talks cover some more advanced topics, such as test automation, work ethics, management, etc.
Hence, to take full advantage of TestingCup, you need to be able to work under pressure, be aware of your own limits, and, above all, be curious. In other words, you have to be an open-minded quality assurance specialist looking for opportunities to expand your horizons. If you fit this description, you should consider attending TestingCup 2020. Who knows, maybe you’ll come across our team there as well?