Tuesday, 23 November 2010

My first day at Expo:QA

Last week I attended Expo:QA, a software testing conference in Madrid. The people behind Expo:QA did a great job organising the event and looking after everyone. They even provided beer and wine during the lunch break! The Spanish food (tapas) was fantastic too.
It was great to meet and chat with testers from around Europe and I found the sessions and key notes interesting.
The first key note presented by Arnold Aumasson was about the testing industry as a whole, its history and future growth. I’ve drawn a little cartoon to describe some of the points (but don’t quote me on it!).

The next keynote was from Dot Graham where she talked about test automation. My favourite bit was if someone is showing off about their test automation, ask them to run the automation right here, right now. If they come up with excuses (e.g. The tester who has to run it isn’t around, or we don’t have enough licenses, or the scripts are not available, etc) then their test automation isn’t up to much.
Next I listened to a session by Derk-Jan de Grood. To kick off his presentation, he said he sells testing. I think that’s great. More testers should be selling testing. He talked about selecting test design techniques depending on the risks.
Geoff Thompson was next. He talked about why in development we are still making mistakes. His overall message ‘testers are the silver bullet’ was well presented and explained.
After a fabulous Spanish lunch (with sea food paella) I attended a keynote by Alan Brown. He talked about improving the visibility of the development process. He was able to give a real example and I was amazed how transparent their development and testing was.
Virginia Chalegre was up next. She talked about accessibility testing on web sites for the visually handicapped. I found her presentation very interesting. Unfortunately, most web sites have a long way to go. One thing that stood out for me was if a web site is accessible then it naturally becomes testable too (this is certainly the case when it comes to test automation). At the end she showed us how to say ‘question’ in sign language. As I think a major role for testers is to ask questions, I made a note to remember the sign.

The last session was presented by Graham Moran around tool evaluation and implementation. I took lots of notes on this one so I think I’m going to have to vote this session as the best of the day!
During the evening, ExpoQA organised a social in a famous Madrid park, El Retiro. Drinks were flowing and I managed to speak to a number of people from Spain, France and Italy! I was impressed with how well they all spoke English.
Later on, I had a sit down meal with other testers. Here’s a cartoon of the people I sat with. A gold star if you can work out how many languages were spoken at the table!

After the meal we watched an excellent Flamenco show – a fantastic way to finish the day :o)

For more details of the presentations, you can check the expoQA site.


  1. Great cartoons, as always!
    As a tester I'm used to reading documents in detail, you said "I managed to speak to a number of people from Spain, France and Italy..." and then said "A gold star if you can work out how many languages were spoken at the table!"
    Can I assume that it's four languages, the three aforementioned plus English?

  2. Good guess... two of your guesses are correct! I spoke to different people during the meal (sorry, it's not very clear in the post).

  3. I've made a small change to clarify :o)

  4. As a Spaniard, I won't aply for that gold star :] But I'll do my best to get there next year.
    Andy, as a fellow tester, I would appreciate some bulletpoints to help me convince my boss about why I'm asking for cash to attend next years ExpoQA!

    So thanks for the time you spend telling stories, and looking forward to meet next year :]

  5. Hi Jokin,

    The main reason to attend such conferences is that it will broaden your understanding of testing. Typically, testers concentrate on 2 or 3 types of testing (e.g. functional, performance, domain, risk-based, user/scenario, exploratory etc). Many of these types overlap, but generally each has its strengths but it also has weaknesses. By learning the different types of testing, you can bring your knowledge back to your work place and recommend new test strategies to overcome any weaknesses in the current testing strategy.

    You can learn the different types of testing (and test management*) by listening to the various sessions and key notes plus also by networking with other testers at the conference.

    Another positive is that these kinds of events tend to have a motivational effect on people.

    *test management – there is often a few sessions on test management – but my personal opinion is that test management is a piece of cake compared to actual testing.

  6. english, portuguese, spanish, italian, catalan

  7. sblackstone, Yes! A gold star for you