Our view on TestExpo 2014, London

TestExpo On Tuesday (Oct 21st) Sogeti UK and Unicom ran a really successful and well attended TextExpo 2014 at the Hotel Russell, London. The event attracted sponsorship and speakers from a number of specialist testing companies from around the UK as well as overseas which gave the day a good feel about the latest things that are happening in the world of software testing as well as new developments that are on their way. The venue was fantastic with helpful staff and a really nice conference hall.

On arrival, the room was buzzing with people trying to see as many stands as possible before the actual talks began. There was a wide range of companies, including big brands such as Microsoft and IBM, exhibiting anything from testing tools to testing services and courses.

The event started with a talk from a great host Rik Marselis from Sogeti, that gave us a good overview of the World Quality Report. The session was quite interactive with people asking lots of questions. As expected, mobile testing was a big topic for discussion this year with many conversations centring around why it’s such a challenging area. A few of the points raised in response to this question were that:

  1. not enough time is allocated to mobile testing
  2. there are no correct / defined testing methods and processes, and
  3. devices are not available for companies to carry out testing with.
Cloud testing has become more popular as well with more test cases and frameworks now being in the cloud rather than on physical devices.

In the first talk, Danny Crone from nFocus focused on agile scrum testing as it’s such an unclear area for many testers. While companies do move from waterfall to agile methodologies, testing processes often don't evolve parallel meaning that they are left in waterfall environment even though the development processes have moved on. Testers aren't invited to scrum events, testing and regression testing is often done outside sprints and still quite often communication between testers and developers is missing.

This was followed by Antony Edwards from TestPlant who spoke about load performance testing tools. He gave the astonishing example of Amazon who report to losing 1% of their revenue if there is just 100 millisecond delay in load time. I also really enjoyed the TestPlant stand which displayed little robots and their mobile stand which gave the opportunity to play with their testing tool ‘eggPlant’.

During the break tea and coffee was served and everyone enjoyed the freebies on over around the exhibition stands with companies offering sweets, competitions to win a Kindle, and at least 3 free t-shirts up for grabs.

Once the delegates were suitably refreshed and goodie bags were filled, Rebecca Wetherill from Borland gave us great insight into the history and statistics of testing with mobiles. She explained that when we used mainframes it was common for the app to take 18 months from the start of development to go to market. Every bug is put out on social media and ratings of the app reduce revenue greatly therefore, now, every bug should be fixed instantly to minimise its impact on reputation and sales. One of the funny things Rebecca said was that the average person now has a lower attention span than a goldfish, so if an app is frustrating to work with, we simply won't use it. Just for a reference, the attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds and modern humans, it is reported, can now only focus for 8 seconds.

The final talk came from Experian and was delivered by three great guys who kept switching between slides and giving their experience on how they shaped their company from having lots of documentation and little communication to the complete opposite. Now that the tester is doing automation and is so similar to the developer, what does the tester’s role now evolve to? There are no easy or precise definitions of a QA role in the rapidly changing environment of agile. This leads to a number of challenges including measuring quality of your QA as well as managing the different approaches all over your organisation.

While quite a few talks was very product selling, there were a few really good ones on the second part of the day. My favourite from the whole day was 'Evolution of Testing for Mobile Platforms' by Paul Rutter, who is a Test Manager at BBC Future Media. I loved the great photos and story-telling about how the BBC has moved from lots of test leads in every team to one big test team that ensured consistent quality throughout the iPlayer product. Some of the ideas were quite unusual and unheard of. For example, they conduct pair programming where the tester and programmer sit together to deliver the feature. Because of this they have been able to eradicate the 'In Test' column on their agile boards. Defects are not logged, instead they are fixed instantly. There aren't many test scripts, but they do review before minor releases the backlog issues to see which areas require more testing. Various automated testing tools are used by the entire test team and build candidates are created every single night.

As well as the talks, there were two round table sessions. Every table had a topic: agile; the evolving role of software testing; automated testing tools; or mobile testing. Delegates could choose a topic and discuss their challenges and get views from others. I found these round sessions really useful as I learned more about different automated tools and strategies that people are using. I made some great contacts that I followed up with later.

During the event, more and more people were leaving, but there was an interesting crowd at the end of event that stayed there for drinks and discussed all things not yet discussed. I really enjoyed event and am thinking about attending again next year.