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Celebrating 20 Years Of TestNet-->
The story of TestNet’s evolution from an idea to the second largest IT community in the Netherlands has many interesting milestones and achievements which have contributed considerably to the development of software testing as a profession in the Netherlands and throughout Europe. As TestNet celebrate their 20th year as a national software testing association in the Netherlands, we spoke to current Chairman Rik Marselis to get an insight into the history and ongoing work of TestNet.
It All Started At EuroSTAR
TestNet’s origins date back to EuroSTAR 1996 in Amsterdam when four Dutch test professionals Martin Pol, Ingrid Ottevanger, Erik van Veenendaal and Jos Trienekens first proposed tapping into their passion for testing to create a national “Vereniging” (independent ‘association’ in Dutch) dedicated to knowledge exchange on testing in the Netherlands. After considering some names and acronyms, TestNet was chosen and on 15 May 1997, the Vereniging was officially registered. Soon after in June 1997, the very first TestNet gathering hosted 140 testers.
The goals of TestNet were set out as “Professionalizing of the testing of IT-products and increasing the consciousness and the importance of the testing profession. TestNet encourages the exchange and distribution of knowledge and experience between testing professionals and encourages research both from scientific as well as practical perspective.” 20 years later, it’s fair to say these goals have been achieved and TestNet continues to pursue this goal in the ever-evolving world of software development. This Rik says, is made possible through groups of volunteers taking responsibility for how TestNet operates and a member base that continues to grow:
“The board is made up of six people – currently, Peter van Tulder (Events), Bernd Beersma (Workgroups), John de Goei (Treasurer), Harro Philip (Secretary), Ruud Teunissen (Information Management) and myself Rik Marselis (Chairman). The board is just one of the groups of volunteers that make our association possible. Other important groups are the events committee that organizes the theme-evenings and events (of which some members are on the committee for some 15 years) and the editorial committee which takes care of all newsletters and newsflashes (also with some veterans).
“After 10 years TestNet had 1000 members, by 15 years we reached 1500 members and we are confident that in this 20th year of our existence we will reach 2000 members. Even though we don’t have a target to grow, it’s always nice to notice that our association is much appreciated. Actually TestNet is the second largest IT-community in the Netherlands. These devoted and committed people make TestNet a stable and well-run organization.”
Cosy Community with a Global Footprint
During the last 20 years, the work of TestNet and its members has had a sizeable impact on the development of the testing profession in the Netherlands and further afield – from university curricula to the development of internationally-adopted testing methods that still prevail today. Rik is proud to say that the contribution of TestNet’s working groups and membership have been influential in the evolution of the craft of testing on a global level.
“The working groups of TestNet have published white-papers and even a curriculum for universities to educate their students about testing. Also we have organized many theme-evenings and workshops about specific topics such as test automation, agile testing, privacy and many more. Other milestones include publications – especially the books that were published at our 10-year anniversary (about the history of testing) and at our 15-year anniversary (about the future of testing). This year we again will have some special publication, but that is still a secret!
“We think that it’s not a coincidence that much of the fundamental testing knowledge was brought together in the Netherlands and distributed through the world. Think of testing methods like TMap and TestFrame that originate from the ’90s and still influence today’s testing approaches.”
But most of all it is the events that drive TestNet’s success, from the frequent testing theme-evenings to the bi-annual gatherings now numbering upwards of 600 attendees.
“TestNet has been very important for exchanging knowledge on testing in the Netherlands. In the early days there were hardly any events or conferences where you could hear other testers present about their experiences and theories. Our theme-evenings are the backbone of the association. In the old days we met about once per quarter, nowadays 14 times per year – testers gather to listen to experience-stories or to participate in discussions or workshops. It always ends up in the bar where the discussions and exchange of opinions and knowledge continue, supported by the famous Netherlands snack “bitterballen”,” Rik added before highlighting specifically that the one-day conferences are the most important aspect of TestNet to-date.
“The most important milestones for TestNet are the conferences. Almost from the beginning we organised one-day conferences. At the start we were very pleased to see some 200 visitors at the annual event. Nowadays we are used of having more than 600 people twice a year. We think that the success of our conferences lies in the cosy atmosphere of friends amongst each other. Being an organization run by volunteers our conferences are free for members and we don’t spend effort and money on fancy things like brochures, glossy publications or whatever. Instead we strive to have the best content we can get. We invite keynote-speakers from all over the world. And the presentations and workshops are done by our own members.”
And what about TestNet’s contribution to the broader European testing community? Without actively pursuing a role outside of the Netherlands, Rik notes that the involvement of Dutch test professionals in international testing conferences is well above average and he is confident that TestNet has played a significant part in getting them there.
“TestNet itself has never strived for a role in the wider European testing community. On the other hand, if you look at the number of speakers from the Netherlands that are listed on the programmes of testing conferences throughout Europe, we have the impression that it’s far above average. Most of these speakers gained their first experiences on a TestNet stage. So how’s that for a contribution!?,” Rik concluded. Certainly from a EuroSTAR perspective, the Dutch testing community have been integral to the diversity of thought, the depth of experience and the passion for improvement that are needed for the collective advancement of the European testing community.
Gelukkige verjaardag TestNet!
Congratulations to Rik and everyone at TestNet on this fantastic milestone. Testing in the Netherlands is in very good hands and everyone at EuroSTAR wishes TestNet continued success for the exciting year’s ahead in the world of software testing. We are proud to have played a part in bringing the founders of TestNet together at EuroSTAR 1996 and to have worked with many TestNet members since in various roles include past Programme Chairs Martin Pol (1997, 1997, 2005), Bob van de Burgt (2008), Ruud Teunissen (2015) and current Chair Iris-Pinskter O’Riordan as well as the many committee members, conference speakers and volunteers who have contributed to EuroSTAR’s success. TestNet has been a valued support in bringing the annual EuroSTAR Conference to the Netherlands on four further occasions since Amsterdam 1996 when the TestNet adventure began. We are delighted to have maintained a wonderful Supporting Organisation partnership with TestNet over the last 20 years and intend for this to continue for many years ahead.
EuroSTAR will attend the 20th Anniversary Special Spring Event at the NBC Congress Centre in Nieuwegein. This jubilee celebration event is free to members of TestNet – non-members are also welcome to attend, subject to a small registration fee. (Note: All talks delivered in Dutch only). For further details visit testnet.org. All attendees at this event will be in with a chance of winning one of two free tickets to attend EuroSTAR 2017 in Copenhagen! Hope to see you there!