TestNet Spring Conference: Trends in Testing
A week or two ago I went to the TestNet 2017 Spring Event. I’m not going to recount the content of each talk or workshop I attended. Instead I want to combine this event with my experience at other conferences, and give you an overview of the biggest trends in agile testing right now.
Twice a year, in Spring and Autumn, TestNet holds a day-long conference. The morning programme offers workshops, while the afternoon provides four or five presentation tracks. There are also two or three keynotes spread throughout the day.
The Word on The Street
During the breaks I usually take the opportunity to visit some of the stands and stalls. It’s always interesting to see what the sponsoring Test- Consulting, Tooling and Training companies are getting excited about. A year or so ago, interest in Regression Testing was much bigger; now other trending topics are taking over.
As a sector, we are also beginning to see the tail end of the End to End hype. With the trend towards Continuous Everything leading the way in automation, Click and Record testing is no longer a revolutionary selling point.
What Are The Biggest Themes in Testing?
So what’s hot? Artificial Intelligence, Security Testing and API’s are currently taking the testing world by storm. For instance, I notice more and more stands advertising API Testing and Security Testing services. A.I. keynotes are commonplace, and Security Testing workshops are a given at all the big testing conferences. Overcoming Bias, Dev-ops, Gamification and Storytelling are also ‘in’.
Is Artificial Intelligence Really Going to Happen?
Right now, all the talk of A.I. seems to be largely conjecture. Given that it’s an emergent field this is hardly surprising. I expect the A.I. hype to remain popular for a while. Just like automation ten years ago, A.I. is the next big thing. As such, we can expect A.I. to follow the technology maturity curve. It will have to bear the ‘trough of disillusionment’ before becoming widespread and reliable.
What About Security Testing? Do We All Have to Become Security experts?
With a little encouragement from enthusiasts (and a few front-page screw ups), Security Testing is really gaining traction. Tackling such an in-depth and specialist topic is not easy. Most Security Testing presentations I’ve attended use anecdotal evidence to promote the importance of this expanding field. Workshops, on the other hand, are currently all about making some of the more basic security testing concepts accessible to those with little experience.
Like other technical testing fields (think of performance, automation), Security Testing will undoubtedly become something that most of us can do a little, and a few of us can do a lot. You will at least need to know what your specialist friends are talking about, so be prepared to get your security hat on in the near future!
API Testing is The Biggest Trend in Testing
As a consequence of the Internet Of Things boom, API’s are everywhere. This explosive increase is reassuring. For one, it means that TOPdesk is on the right track with the move to API-based communication. Secondly, the number of trainings, meetups and workshops is growing rapidly. I found it quite easy to brainstorm with my peers on the topic. Most people I spoke to either knew of Service Oriented Architecture, or work with API’s themselves.
The choice of tooling seems to be growing too. If you want a safe bet, REST Assured is popular as an IDE-compatible test framework. For manual testing, PostMan is more well-known than Restlet Client (I use the latter). If you want a professional solution that is capable of both, SOAP UI is a popular choice.
What Else is Happening in Testing?
Besides the new trends, there are topics which return time and again. The role of a tester remains reliably under scrutiny. With Agile booming and Waterfall ahem, water under the bridge, the role of testers appears to be more fluid than ever.
Testers nowadays posses a huge variety of skills and expertise. There is no one-size-fits-all. Most companies look for a mix of technical testers and front-end testers, with a sprinkling of test specialists on the side.
What does this mean for you? The conclusion of role-related workshops is usually ‘it’s what you make of it’, and ‘keep updating your skills’, along with an occasional ‘we’re all being replaced with bots!’. In short: you will never be done learning.
Although many companies are still in a transitional phase, Scrum and Agile are the new norm. Communities and tribes are fast replacing the traditional test teams. With Agile in full swing, there is a clear shift towards servant leadership and coaching over traditional test management. Every conference, a room of test managers gather to fret about whether agile testing will eliminate their role.
This has been a concern for many years already, and yet there are always enough test managers to easily fill the seats. Fear not. Go forth and build an awesome testing community.
What Inspires You to go to Testing Conferences?
Learning and networking aside, conferences are a chance for me to step outside my comfort zone and stretch myself. At Eurostar I made a point of talking to as many people as I could about what they do. At TestNet, I stood up and talked in front of a room (the one pictured above) full of test managers for the first time. No matter where you are on your personal continuum, you can always go one step further. Conferences are and always have been my mental playground.
Where is Testing Going?
To conclude, let me share a story. One speaker gave an account of an experience he had while giving the same talk at several conferences worldwide. He asked the participants at each talk to form groups and create a list of types of testing they perform. Not surprisingly, the lists generated by the groups in the room were quite similar. Curiously though, as he traveled, he noticed that each conference audience generated a set of lists quite different from the others. Thread testing, anyone?
The technology we test around the world is comparable in terms of functionality and complexity, and yet we find ourselves bunched in localized islands of test culture. With a few small exceptions, we are only just beginning to break through these bubbles and reach out beyond what we know.
I hope that we continue to look beyond the obvious, and improve our band as an international community. Who knows how the newfound knowledge could shape our future? One thing is sure: I look forward to finding out!
With thanks to TestNet for approving use of these photos. Source: TestNet 20 Year Jubileum Spring Event (library).