My STPCon 2017 experience

A few months ago i got a very nice surprise. The organizers of the STPCon conference had accepted two of the talks i submitted to their call for proposals. So, i got a fantastic opportunity to talk at this conference i had heard a lot about, and the chance to visit a beautiful city, namely Washington. 

I am not going to talk about the sightseeing much here, except that i have to mention: how awesome it is to have some great museums, with amazing things on display, and with no entrance fee. Yes, that is the Smithsonian, with all of its’ museums. The air and space ones (there are two of them) are a must see. There are so many actual planes and space modules there, that you will spend a lot of time visiting the museums, and what an experience that is. Wow. For me the top of the top was the space shuttle Discovery, the one that actually went into space, and that is hosted at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, near the Dulles airport. It’s a must see!

Now onward to the conference experience.

But wait, before that… i have to say, after a few days of sticking around at two different hotels in this area, i am still left with some questions:

  • how do these showers really work? Where is the instruction manual? Sure, i did shower, but i am pretty sure i was doing it wrong.
  • does everybody here love air conditioning?
  • why is bottled drinking water soooo cold? Should you not drink it right away? Don’t people here get sore throats? What’s the secret to that?
  • why are vanity kits not in the rooms and why do you need to call reception to get them? Them being complimentary and all. And what are cotton balls?
  • why are there no ligthbulbs on the ceilings and only lamps everywhere?
  • oh and wow, s’mores cereal bars? How can they be so sweet?

Anyway.

The talks – key takeaways

Day 1  started with a keynote by Paul Grizzaffi. It was fast paced, well packed with good tips and advice. The thing that i would consider the key takeaway from his talk is that even software that is opensource comes with a cost. Also, when making decisions on your project, think about it as if it was your money you are investing. That will help you in investing only in things that bring value to your business.

The next talk i went to was Eric Proegler’s so titled “More QQ Less Pew Pew: Performance Testing Without Load Tools”. I found this topic interesting, since i know many perf tools are quite expensive. So, in this talk, i got a chance to see a different approach to doing perf, by using more simple tools, like the browser dev tools, which come integrated in every browser. Basically a few sites were inspected for issues by looking at the network tab and seeing all kinds of info there, like how long it took for different resources to load.

Next up was Angie Jones’ talk, “Which Tests Should We Automate?”. This was a very useful insight into how to select which tests are worth automating out of “all the things”, based on some metrics that she considers useful. We had an exercise, with some scenarios that were up for automation, and based on the metrics, you could see what brings value if automated, and what not. I found the metrics spot on, very relevant, and the approach quite helpful.

Day 2 started with me attending Troy Walsh’s talk on WinAppDriver and Winium. I found this a very useful, well structured talk. The two frameworks were presented in comparison, to understand what are the benefits and what are the downsides of each of them. Then, a demo of automation for some Windows apps was shown, to see how fast they would run, and what are some limitations of each. Quite nice.

The next talk i attended was the one on Docker in testing by Glenn Buckholz. I was kind of curious to see how the tool is used for testing purposes, so this talk delivered. The key thing i noted was how it is used to save time on reporting any issues encountered by tests. Namely saving the “invalid” state in the container in which the test runs, so that a developer can just start the container directly at the step where the test found inconsistencies. This way, it is easier to show them exactly what is breaking, and faster too.

Regarding my talks i can say that of course i had fun doing them, one being coding on the spot, and one being a collection of best practices to consider when writing automated tests. I got very good feedback from the participants, which is always great to hear.  Also plenty of questions. And questions mean people were interested in the topics, so yey, fantastic.

Therefore, if anyone is interested in going over my talks again, here is the useful info you are looking for:

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