“Awesome Testing Discussions” – A meetup in Lahore
Lahore being the cultural capital of Pakistan is best known for it’s festivity. There is a saying in Punjabi that goes like this “sutt din tay utth mailay, kum karaan main kairay waylay” which roughly translates to “There are 7 days in a week and there are 8 Festivals. How can I find any time to do my job?” But on last weekend, we intermixed the technical testing profession topics with the easy going table team discussions so that people can have fun while learning.
The idea was earlier testified few months ago in a meetup that happened in Islamabad and we thought to use the conventional wisdom to repeat things with some variation to newer places in another time. This time around we got great partnership of a technology giant from Lahore Confiz Ltd. who helped us connect so many Knowledge Testers through the independent platform of Pakistan Software Testing Board.
The event took place at a private hall which was specially arranged by the active Confiz testing team lead by Rizwan Jafri. The location provided the conducive environment for the discussion where ten round tables were setup each hosting 5-6 testers along with a Discussion Moderator who helped initiate, expand and summarize the discussion topic for that particular table. The members on each team were selected from our previous Lahore tester meetup participants such that we had testers with experience ranging from <1 years to 14+ years representing over 25 organizations to provide enough diverse opinions.
The planning for the event actually started many weeks before the actual meetup and I’m very much thankful to our tester friends in Lahore: Rizwan Jafri, Kamran Khan, Humaira Anwar, Muhammad Ayyaz and Qaiser Munir who meticulously designed the meetup. The evergreen guidance of Dr. Zohaib Iqbal and Dr. Uzair Khan was always there and Taimur Sarwar being the champion advocator of testing discussion added value by not only in the planning phase but also traveled from Islamabad to join the session with his team members.
The discussion topics were a bit similar to the one we had in Islamabad edition and bit new as introduced by our Discussion Moderators who were all from the Lahore testing community. I’m thankful to Ayyaz and Qaiser who took the additional role of moderation and they were joined by a very talented league of testers that included: Maissom Abbasi, Najabat Ali Khan, Muhammad Ahsan, Sadaf Khan, Ali Khalid, Waqar Ahmad, Maria Mukhtar and Zeeshan Dilawar.
(more photos coming soon on our facebook page)
Given the time constraint, the teams were given 35 minutes of discussion time after an opening note by me in which I talked about our philosophy behind holding such meetups. Emphasizing the necessity to push testers to meet new testers, I explained the notion of Echo Chambers and shared some ideas on how to come out of them. I also talked about how just listening to talks won’t mature your thought process unless you express yourself in a safe environment like the one provided by this meetup. To my surprise, my above murmurings about meetups was introduced as a Keynote.
For all of my readers who were not present at the event, below were the ten topics which were then presented by each team:
- Becoming a full stack Quality Engineer
- Tester-Programmer relationship
- Role of tester in User Acceptance Testing
- How important is Communication and Collaboration for Testers
- I’m bad at coding, can I still be a Tester?
- Performance Testing – what is involved when it is well-done
- What to and what not to automate
- The role of Tester in Agile teams
- Considerations in developing an Automation Framework
- Should QA Engineer be a Specialist or Generalist?
Each team summed up their discussion through a short presentation of <5 minutes on the stage. The beauty of the plan was that this job was done by the junior most tester on that table which helped our newer lot gain knowledge and confidence side by side. The audience then was invited to throw in questions on the topic or add the comments. The real takeaways were here and I’m sure everyone had a full list of notes from this learning experience to give them new perspectives. To give you an idea of the proceedings, let me share couple of examples.
On the topic of whether a Tester be good at coding, the discussion quickly turned into the balance of Domain knowledge and Technical knowledge that a Tester needs. The comments went in favor of Testers who don’t understand coding but strong at the domain knowledge are better vs. comments going in favor of Testers who know the layers of technical implementation being good. Eventually the hall kind of agreed that we need a mix of both.
Similarly during the discussion on what and what not to automate, some people believed that we need a cautious approach and can only automate within some constraints. But folks with practical knowledge explained that the decision should not be based on how much you know about automation or how much you can achieve, rather it should be based on how much automation is needed by the project you are executing.
These discussions were well summed up by closing note by Omair Sajid, Senior Director Engineering at Confiz who very much liked the idea of testers getting together and explore their profession. He talked through his experience that finding a real Tester has been a challenge and was happy to see that community is raising the standard through such events which will produce quality testers. He also shared his vision of automation and suggested that today’s modern solution developed at high pace for demanding situations cannot succeed until test automation is not applied.
As the certificates for Discussion Moderators and Organizers were being awarded, Dr. Zohaib took the opportunity and shared our future plans to keep this momentum going. It included a definitive plan of a meetup in Karachi in October along with another being planned in Lahore in a few month in collaboration with Systems Ltd. He also outlined the rough plans that we have to hold a national level software testing conference to happen towards end of 2016 which will be a yearly event and will move from one city to another.
Oh I forgot to mention that Lahore along with it’s festivity is known for the food and it was well proved by delicious and mouthwatering eateries that were offered with tea at the end. As the participants enjoyed the tasteful food, the environment resulted in lot of new connections being made on the fly and lots of ideas on how to work together to further build the amazing testing community that we have.
What ideas do you have for our future meetups?