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A View From The Chair (Volume 8)

  • 02/10/2013
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Test Coverage

It’s been quite a trip–quite a few trips, in fact. A visit to Galway in January for planning and discussions with the EuroSTAR Conferences staff (“the Staff”), and another couple of days in Galway in March to hammer out the programme with the Programme Committee. A late-March visit to Cardiff, Wales, with James Bach to discuss tutorial ideas with Harry Collins. A quick dash to Gothenburg in May, accompanied by Staff members Emer and Nicola, to look over the Gothia Towers Hotel and to present the conference programme to a meeting of the Swedish Association for Software Testing. An August afternoon in Galway, with Bart Broekman, preparing video and demonstrating puzzles for the Staff. A fast run from a Rapid Testing class in Brighton on a September evening to talk about aspects of the programme at London Tester Gathering–and a desperate dash for the last train back from London Bridge. And, coming soon, the last trip of them all, to join the Staff and the programme committee in Gothenburg to get the party started.

As far as I’ve traveled this year for EuroSTAR, the community’s geographical reach extends even farther. This year’s speakers are coming from as far away as the west coast of the United States, India, Hong Kong and Australia and yes, there are plenty coming from Europe, too. The conference participants cover the globe. The sun never sets on the EuroSTAR empire, and, to paraphrase anthropologist Wade Davis, if we ask what it’s like to be a tester, we’ll get answers in dozens of languages.

Like our craft, the EuroSTAR programme covers a lot of territory. There are talks on almost as many domains as there are presenters, including banks, airplanes, consultancies, exchanges, social networks, railways, music, and tunnels. Some of the speakers will spin tales of big corporations; others will tell stories that are deeply personal. Testing is happening on mobile devices, desktop computers, tablets, and in the cloud. Testing touches on functionality, performance, usability, and security, but we are realizing that testing also reaches into communications, sociology, psychology, and magic. Whatever is going on in the world, it’s got a connection to testing, and the EuroSTAR programme this year reflects that. The Programme Committee and the Staff, I’m proud to say, have put together everything we need for a great conference, a lively party, and a vibrant and growing community.

With so many different people, projects, business domains, social circles and sub-circles, there are likely to be many different perspectives on how to do testing work. Applications and systems are inconceivably more complex than they were when EuroSTAR started 20 years ago. Every project is unique, and has aspects to that are to some degree novel. After all, if the yesterday’s stuff worked for today’s purposes, we’d put copy a DVD or mail a link to the old stuff. For evern new project, every team and every tester must invent new ways to test, and question whether the old ways will help us to understand what we’re building–or help us fool ourselves and our clients. That’s why it’s so important that we share our experiences, that we watch and listen carefully, and that we probe to get to the heart of the story. That’s why we must ask questions and prepare ourselves to answer them. That’s why we must engage with new colleagues, learn new technologies, and read new (and old) books. And that’s also why, instead of thinking that we know for sure that something will or will not work, we need to try stuff out to see how it works. The very skills that we need to test our products are the skills that we need to become better testers. Let’s talk with each other, observe our craft in all of its diversity, and cover the field with questions that help us to learn.

I would like to extend my thanks to all of the staff, programme committee members, presenters, facilitators, community organizers, and participants-everyone who has helped and will help to make this a tremendous conference. For me, the long climb up Mount EuroSTAR 2013 began about a year ago, and in a month or so, we’ll all reach the summit together and come down. Me, I’m going to take my boots off and try to get some rest. For the Staff, it’s a couple of days off and it all starts up again for 2014. Just like testing, EuroSTAR doesn’t end; it only stops for a while.

—Michael B.

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