My TestCon Vilnius 2017 experience

‘Twas a not so warm day in October, that in Vilnius awesome testers united to talk about their crafts. Some crushed candies, some with machines worked, others Selenium magic performed. And this is how it all unfolded.

The TestCon event consisted of one day of workshops, followed by one day of actual conference (talks). I was only present for the talks, and i was pleasantly surprised to see a lot of attendees.
The location was quite fun. A cinema inside a shopping mall. We basically had the cinema all to ourselves. It was quite interesting to give a talk while standing in front of the huge screen, with attendees sitting comfortably on the cinema chairs, some even having grabbed some popcorn. The projection screen displayed the speaker for everyone to see, even in the back, and the speakers laptop screen. The speaker was a bit unaware of how the guys in the room felt about the talk, since the projectors were focused on the stage, and the rest of room was in semi-darkness. But i am pretty sure not many people fell asleep even with this setup. That’s because the talks i saw were awesome. And there were plenty of questions and prizes to go around in the room, for those who decided not to be shy and just grab the microphone and ask what was on their mind.

The first thing i have to mention is that, because i had a very late flight, i was not able to wake up in time to see the first talk of the day, the keynote. Nor did i see the last keynote. But still, great content i saw. I am happy to say that i had to write down all kinds of things to do research on after the conference.
The first talk that i saw was by Eddy Bruin on knowing your customer. This was an interesting perspective on how to test your products by thinking as the user. Some key points from the talk: using personas to simulate user groups and test from their perspective; doing usability testing to understand how easy it is for customers to use the software you are developing, to see whether they can find what they need easily; having super review sessions, where anyone in the company can come and take a look at what your team developed, on all kinds of devices, in order to provide feedback; and from time to time, participating in helpdesk support, to get first hand feedback from the customers.

Next up was a talk on how AI is used for testing the famous Candy Crush game. Alexander Andelkovic showed how neural networks are used to create bots that play the game in trying to simulate a regular user’s gameplay as much as possible. Some of the key points from this talk were, for me: how bots are evolving, learning, trying different moves in the game, and mixing together once they are stuck with their learning process; to do some reading on the NeuroEvolution of Augmenting Topologies (quite a mouthful) and see how that can be applied on other projects.

Next up i went to the talk on accessibility testing by Jurij Nesvat. The talk started with some introduction, examples and terminology, and some examples of what are common accessibility issues. The thing that i noted (having previously done this type of testing) was that apparently there is a concept of accessibility labs. In such places, people are wearing all kinds of devices that restrict their normal functionality, like muscle movement or vision, in order to simulate how a person with disabilities would use the products under test.

Right after lunch and my talk, i went to see Gil Tayar talk about how to do automation testing for front end components, without using the browser. Quite an interesting approach, of using Node and JSDOM to simulate the DOM and the browser, and interacting with this DOM. The promise is of even managing to simulate a click event, without the actual clicking inside a browser window. I am really looking forward to the slides on this one, as it is something i would probably like to use in the future. Oh and the talk ended with a poem that summarizes what was shown.

The last talk i managed to see was on machine learning  used for automation testing, by Dzmitry Humianiuk. Probably the second slide of this talk showed a ton of mathematical equations, which hinted at how complex this activity can be. The talk focused on how the approach is used by the team who develops the Report Portal tool.

Regarding my talk:

I have to give a big thank you to the people who organize this event because: they were very kind and helpful in getting us, the speakers, to the event; all our costs were covered by them; and we also got a very cute thank you gift. The event itself was very fun and the talks very useful. Don’t hesitate to attend this conference: the cost is very decent and you get the chance to learn and meet a lot of people from the testing community. Aaaaaand…there is ice cream 🙂

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