Category Archives: Software & Agile Testing

Liverpool Tester Gathering – James Whittaker

Working in IT, hearing the stories and learning from the experiences of others is always a pleasure. For me it is important to not only stay relevant with current technological developments, but also to listen and learn from the experiences of others in the industry. A bonus is they have plenty of stories, worth listening to, as I discovered at last month’s Liverpool Tester Gathering event.

Held at Signature Living’s Shankly Hotel, the event featured James Whittaker, who is a renowned engineer, futurist and speaker on technology. Having heard the buzz about the event in the weeks and months beforehand, I was very much looking forward to this event. As it turned out, a packed out audience of 180 people including myself were not disappointed.

From start to finish, I was impressed with how James drew on his vast experiences in technology and testing. Along with pearls of testing wisdom there was also plenty of humour, which helped make for a talk that was clear to understand.

The event was introduced by Leigh Rathbone from The Very Group, who explained briefly about Liverpool Tester Gathering’s origins, it’s punk-like attitude and how it was inspired by the legendary Factory Records in Manchester. There were also further introductions from Andy Burton from The Very Group, and Dave Parkinson from Sony, who both talked about the importance of remaining relevant.

Following this, James was given a rousing introduction, and proceeded to give a tour-de-force of a tech talk. Relating to his experience and knowledge of software testing. James explained about how it has changed, from the age of silicon chips, the Internet and the cloud.

There was plenty of interesting testing facts that I learned. Some were not just about testing, but also highlighted to me the importance of keeping up-to-date with new technological trends.

These points include the following:

  1. Build things fast and build the right ones.
  2. Don’t get too comfortable with what you do today, as it will prevent you doing stuff tomorrow.
  3. Google and Microsoft disbanded their software testing organisations.
  4. The cloud has completely changed the testing game.
  5. In the new world of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning, bias in data are the new bugs to be tested.
  6. Creativity is about asking the right questions.

From all of the above, I was fascinated by James’s knowledge on testing. Indeed, what I understood is that from the age of silicon chips, to cloud computing today, we have moved beyond testing software and code. This is because we are on the cusp of a new era of technological change with AI, machine learning and the Internet of Things (IoT), meaning that users, developers and testers must learn and adapt.

I would like to thank James for giving an interesting talk, and to everyone at Liverpool Tester Gathering for organising the event. My thanks also go to Lawrence Kenwright and everyone at The Shankly Hotel for hosting the event. On reflection I came away having not only enjoyed listening to James, but I also came away having learned plenty, underpinned by the following words.

We need software testers like we have never before!

Tech Nomads – Who Are They?

Who are Tech Nomads, and what do they do?

Based in Liverpool, Tech Nomads is a monthly meetup group. Held usually at Liverpool Science Park, this group consists of creatively minded people who are interested in programming, along with other tech and digital industry areas.

The purpose of Tech Nomads is to bring together and nurture a creative environment for people in Liverpool, to collaborate on tech-related ideas. By creating a close supportive community, Tech Nomads allows for the facilitation of creativity, through informal networking, as well as sharing ideas and experiences. Attendees can also develop their creative skills through writing code.

Recently I mentioned how the Liverpool City Region (LCR) has a growing creative, digital and tech community. Therefore, the work of groups such as Tech Nomads are indispensable, as they are hotbeds of tech and digital creativity, where like-minded people come together to meet, share, collaborate and learn from each other. It is through enabling different minds to interact in a supportive and informal environment, that creativity can thrive.

Tech Nomads is not just for people with an interest in technology. In fact, it is open to everyone, making it inclusive, open and welcoming. This is important to prevent people working in silos, which hinders creativity within organisations.

I am certainly impressed and intrigued greatly with the work that Tech Nomads does. Working in IT, I am certainly looking forward to attending events, along with meeting and networking with fellow tech enthusiasts. Finally, I am also looking forward to learning and sharing knowledge and experiences.

You can find out more about their events on Eventbrite, and also follow them on Twitter.

Liverpool Tester Gathering – Featuring Lisa Crispin

Having enjoyed and learned plenty about testing from the previous Liverpool Tester Gathering event, I was delighted to attend last week’s event at Avenue HQ. The featured speaker was Lisa Crispin, a well known and famous tester, in the world of agile testing.

Since 1982, Lisa has worked extensively as a programmer, analyst, engineer and tester, with many organisations. Therefore with such experience gained from an incredible journey, I was intrigued to learn more and I was not disappointed.liverpool_tester_gathering_sept2018_3

The event began with a lively and welcoming introduction by Leigh Rathbone from Liverpool Tester Gathering. I was greatly impressed with how Leigh introduced the evening with warmth, humour and a vibrant enthusiasm, creating an atmosphere of positive energy that swamped and caught the audience’s attention. Such an introduction certainly helped to set the feel good tone for the evening.

Listening to Lisa share her testing knowledge and experiences, there was plenty that I learned about testing simply from listening to her stories. What I learned was testing is more than just using technical tools, as it is also about human interaction, through the power of collaborative working. This is because agile testing of applications is paramount, and affects everybody who interacts with them, meaning that testing requires teamwork, collaboration and winning the hearts and minds of people. Therefore testing is the responsibility of everyone!

I also learned that testing requires the following:

  1. The courage to experiment, keep learning and push yourself.
  2. Willingness to use your beginners mind and curiosity to ask questions.
  3. Acknowledging and learning from your team and other people.
  4. Knowing when to stop testing.
  5. Understanding skills and knowledge can be transferred by asking questions, writing documentation, team activities, switching roles, video blogging and shadowing colleagues.
  6. Learning through self education including meetups, round table sessions, online courses, digital content, social media and peer learning.

Audience members also had the opportunity to take part in a lightning talk. This was a three minute slot where volunteers could talk about any subject they feel passionate about, so I took the opportunity to talk about blogging to share stories aliverpool_tester_gathering_sept2018_4nd knowledge with others. I admit I felt the nerves beforehand as giving an unscripted three-minute talk was daunting, but I kept calm and spoke clearly and to the point with confidence. It seemed to go down very well, as I received applause from the audience, and also a person asked me afterwards for advice on blogging, of which I was happy to help.

There were other volunteers who took part in the lightning talks. One talked about the importance of caring and sharing knowledge and expertise, and another talked about the importance of sharing domain business knowledge with colleagues. Such talks encapsulated the whole theme of the evening and spoke volumes of the Liverpool Tester Gathering community.

I would like to thank Leigh Rathbone, Duncan Nisbet, Chris Thacker and Philip Hughes from Liverpool Tester Gathering, for organising the event. In addition, my thanks also go to Lisa Crispin for sharing her testing expertise and knowledge, Stephen Johnson of ROQ for sponsoring the event, and to American Pizza Slice for providing such incredibly delicious pizza!

If you are interested in testing, technology or digital, I recommend these events wholeheartedly, and you can follow Liverpool Tester Gathering on Twitter and YouTube.

After Hours – Co-op Digital

Working in technology, I enjoy listening to the experiences of other professionals. These occasions allow me to learn from the experiences of others in technology, before applying them to my own work and sharing with others.

Recently I attended the first ever After Hours event at Avenue HQ, which was organised by Oh This Way (OH). This featured Gail Mellows and Matt Tyas of Co-op Digital, who talked about their experiences and how they have used the skills learned on their digital journey, to benefit Co-op Digital and their clients.

Listening to Gail and Matt speak, I picked up on several reoccurring themes. These included collaboration, experimentation, quality of content, and working with other people. These are very important themes required in every single industry, as well as in everyday life.

In addition, there were other useful pieces of advice, that l learned from the event. These correspond to the themes that I have already mentioned, and in the spirit of learning and sharing, I have included some of these below.

  1. Never assume what your customers want.
  2. Experiment with different ways of working.
  3. Use your skills from childhood (e.g. drawing, sketching with colours, or using Lego), to get your ideas across.
  4. Prototyping is the start of collaboration between designers, developers and customers.
  5. Duplication needs to be reduced as it causes inefficiency, is unfair on colleagues, and is ultimately bad for customers.
  6. Important to research thoroughly and involve everyone.
  7. Prototyping allows you to make mistakes safely, quickly and cheaply.
  8. Give teams the right tools to do their job.
  9. Content needs to be designed so that it is legible, readable and accessible to all.
  10. Content and customer needs dictate the design outcome.
  11. Good design should go unnoticed.
  12. Quality of content is perceived by how a customer interacts with it.
  13. What you leave out is as important as what you include.
  14. Use the right words and not more words.
  15. Learn from what succeeded and failed.

To summarise what I have learned, content needs to meet the requirements stated by the customer. This is achieved by using different working methods, techniques and the right tools, to constantly experiment with various scenarios, before creating content that meets the required outcomes. As well as the above, content needs to meet quality standards, be accessible to everyone, is user-friendly, and based on strong foundations of thorough research and robust testing, from all relevant parties.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Robyn Dooley and Victoria Murray of OH for organising the event. My thanks also go to Gail and Matt from Co-op Digital for sharing their experiences, and also to Avenue HQ for hosting the event. This was an interesting and very useful discussion for me, and I am looking forward to the next After Hours event.

You can find out more about Co-op Digital’s work by looking at their blog.

Liverpool Tester Gathering – API Testing Challenges with Postman & REST Assured

Development of an application programming interface (API) requires extensive testing. Such testing not only relates to the usability of an application, but also of the underlying coding mechanics, to ensure the API performs and executes the functions required.

Last week, I attended an event organised by Liverpool Tester Gathering at Avenue HQ, which looked at the challenges involved with API testing when using two specific API tools. These tools are Postman and REST Assured, which enable testers to create and customise templates, in order to test different API performance scenarios.

The event was compared by Ian Smith of ROQ, and featured two speakers in James Hattersley-Dykes and Jonny Fletcher. This event was also my first time attending, so I was looking forward to dipping my toe in the testing world. I was made to feel very welcome, as Ian opened the event by allowing me and other first-time attendees to introduce ourselves, in a warm and friendly manner.

Both James and Jonny proceeded to deliver a fascinating presentation into how Postman and REST Assured can be specifically tailored to test multiple scenarios. One of the major points that I learned early on, was there are lots of variations to consider as part of the API testing process. In addition, I also learned other useful points from James and Jonny, to consider when testing an API.

These points include the following:

  1. Important to document your API’s, as you would do your business processes.
  2. Postman is an API testing tool, which allows testers to create customised testing outputs.
  3. REST Assured is a Java-based library used for writing tailored API tests, which are understandable and human readable.
  4. User interface (UI) is suitable for testing API interface usability, but cannot sufficiently verify functions and back-end services associated with multi-user architecture.
  5. API testing is more suitable for testing automation than UI testing.
  6. In addition to API testing, it is also important to support and compliment both pre and post-testing activities.

Listening to James and Jonny speak, I was impressed with the depth of their knowledge. I not only left with a taste of what is involved with API testing, but also with a book prize that I also won, from tweeting about the event. To summarise, this event has lit the testing flame for me, and I am looking forward to hopefully attending September’s event featuring Lisa Crispin, who I believe is a legend in the Agile testing community.

In conclusion there are several I would like to thank for this event. These include James and Jonny for delivering the presentation, Ian for being a welcoming compare, and also to Avenue HQ for hosting the event. Finally I would also like to thank Doris IT for sponsoring the event, and providing the beer and delicious pizza. Doris IT is an IT recruitment company that works with talented young people from schools, colleges and universities, and develops them with many well-known organisations in the UK.

Thanks for reading!