This is my coverage of Testcamp event, from both the workshop day and the conference day.
TestCamp was organized by TestArmy, with which. I have business relationships (working for Testuj.pl – one of the companies in the group). I am freelancing there as a trainer for some of the Testuj.pl courses. And I was also part of one of their webinars and their Expert Opinions e-book.
What is TestCamp?
TestCamp started three years ago. At first it was a conference aimed towards junior testers, however the second edition changed the target to testers in general; I admit back then I wasn’t fully aware of that.
This year was the 3rd edition of the conference and I can say it has changed a lot since last year. – in some parts for better, in some others for worse.
As far as I am aware a lot of changes have been introduced since last year’s edition. Back then, other companies could do workshops under Testcamp brand but they had to provide space on their own.
This year it was much different: a tremendous amount of 12 workshops happened. It was too much for any venue, so they had to split it into two different locations: Ibis Styles (Where the actual conference was held) and Mercure Hotel. I feel this information was poorly shared. I was informed about the location of my workshop very late, actually in the last email from the organizers. To make it worse at first I missed that info, and I nearly went to Ibis hotel instead of Mercure one.Some of the attendees of my workshop where also confused. For example they were asking me if the conference is also happening Mercure, cause they thought it was supposed to be in Ibis.
I am not aware what happened in the other hotel, but in Mercure I experienced a little organisational mess. At first no one from organisers was present. And we were left to our own devices. On the other hand the hotel crew was very helpful, but they didn’t have information which workshop was happening in which room.
Fortunately, we somehow managed to sort it out, but it led to other issues. The desks were so tightly packed that sitting on them would be uncomfortable. – Basically, 16 people had to be squeezed into only a few tables, making it something like 2.5 person per desk. With some help of the hotel crew, we managed to deal with this and other issues.
On the bright side I have to give huge kudos to the Organizers for the compensation: all the trainers, *got paid*. Somehow with workshops that were quite cheap (let’s be honest ~400 PLN for a 1-day workshop is not much) they managed to pay the trainers quite a fair wage.
What Was my workshop about?
Lately, I see a lot of people wanting to go into automation, and most of them invest quite a lot of time and effort without even considering if this is something for them.My idea was to create a workshop about the very Basics of programming. The absolute of absolutes minimum to give them a chance for the first contact with code, so they can see if coding is appealing to them. My goal wasn’t to teach them C#. My goal was to show them what programming brings and what kind of effort it is.
Based on that feedback I feel that my idea worked. Someone even wrote that they now understand: Programming is much harder and requires much more effort than what he/she initially thought.
Of course, you can’t satisfy everyone. There was one survey answer that baffled me: „I wasn’t expecting it will be *that* basic” – Personally I am confused by this answer. Cause the title was „Absolute Basics of programming” and in the agenda on the page, I have clearly stated what the idea behind the workshop is. So yes, I am fascinated by this comment.
The Conference day.
The Conference itself grew dramatically compared to previous edition: it was around 500 people, the same size as TestFest! As a consequence, TestCamp organisers had to use the same venue as above mentioned TestFest.
But even though both conferences share the venue and target – Wrocław Testers – there weren’t many similarities.
Last year’s TestCamp felt much more focused. I find it difficult to explain, but looking at my post from last year – I have much more vivid memories from that event, than looking at my notes from this year. And it just happened!
I think TestCamp suffered a case of a Feature Bloat. Since it grows in both: the number of attendees and tracks size, it was harder to keep the edge.
Of course, with the size logistics became much more complicated. This led to some problems, from typos to communication issues.
For me personally, the biggest issue was the absence of the Speakers room. I know that I may sound entitled, but as a speaker, I have a little more equipment with me. (For example, a spare set of clothes and my computer for presentation). Speakers room is useful to leave it there and not co carry it as some mule. Last year when the conference was smaller, I didn;t feel the need for a speaker room
Of course, there were a lot of bright spots in the way the event was organised:
For example, the volunteers were doing a great job!
As Kamila Polańska pointed out the system with lunch in shifts made everything work much smoother than with lunch during other conferences.
The talks at TestCamp
Ok, let’s talk about the agenda.
The presentation was loosely split into three tracks – skills, tools and automation. As you can guess, automation was a place where I have spent most of my time.
I don’t have much to say about other tracks, but I did collect some feedback from other attendees. Most of the people I talked to said that the skills track was too basic. Everything was too generic; subjects barely touched the surface of presented topics. Some people even suggested that it feels like those topics were prepared with beginners in mind.
What is interesting to me is that I haven’t talked with anybody who was on Tools track, so I have no idea what was going there 🙂
Ok so let’s talk about presentations I was on
First There was a Keynote
Projekt jak wieża Babel – efektywna komunikacja z perspektywy testera – By Alicja Polska
Project as the Babel tower – effective communication from testers POV – By Alicja Polska
Damian Szczurek, the head of TestArmy, precisely explained why he wanted this presentation as a keynote: communication skills are essential for everyone in the current IT world. And I agree with that. However the content and the speakers presentation skill were both average. I would say that it would be an excellent presentation for beginner/introduction track or junior-targeted conferencer. (Which by the way the first edition of test camp was). From my understanding currently Test Camp has a much broader target, and in my opinion, this presentation failed to deliver to a more experienced audience.
Although, on the other hand, I have to admit I work in a company where I see many problems described in the presentation. So maybe I am wrong on this accord, and this is a presentation on a level that most of us needed to see.
What is my problem?
I will start with mostly subjective matter – the jokes and memes in presentation – for me they didn’t land, for most of the talk nobody was laughing out loud, and It felt as every second slide had some joke or meme.
Same with the content, mostly shallow truism, including biases – which at this point feels like a dead horse of testing conference.
Unfortunately, the author didn’t go into detail on the most subject, paying them only lip service. – So basically she did what I am doing right now. The difference is I have only my memory and my notes to prepare this post.
Again this talk would be suitable for beginners to track not as a keynote – at least I have much higher expectation from the keynote.
I have spent rest of my day at Automation track, I wasn’t on all presentations, but I have seen most of them starting with:
Automatyzacja z deweloperami. Krótkie studium przypadku- Wojciech Wróblewski
Automation with developers. Short Case study – Wojciech Wróblewski
Again a very introductory level presentation. But if you hadn’t ever worked with the developers on test automation, it was an excellent place to get the idea. Not necessarily know-how. After the talk, I discussed it with a few other attendees, and we all felt the same problem. It was more a collection of anecdotes from the project than a proper case study.
Wojtek did one great thing – he wasn’t afraid to talk about the negative consequences of their decision, and this is rare. So kudos to him for that.
Unfortunately, I have there is one mistake I have to point out.
He was saying they are using „Fluent.” I jotted it down cause I thought it is some library and I wanted to check what it is. In Q&A, someone asked about turns out this is how they are referring to method chaining. When I realised this, and I have corrected him. His reaction hasn’t impressed me. Basically, he said he doesn’t care for a proper name. This is a problem; he was at TestCamp as a speaker sharing his knowledge with the audience, and yet he didn’t even care to check what he is saying is correct.
Next was my presentation
As usual, I will leave relation from it for the end. The slot after me I had to skip I was little too tired and needed a moment to wind down. In this time, I learned that Michał Buczko did a great presentation (but again not very deep) – pity I couldn’t be there as he was in the same slot as me. But here is one point that is confusing for me, he was there as speaker from the gold sponsor, and I don’t see his presentation being marked as sponsored in any way. Michał Buczko usually does great talks, but still, I am a firm believer in transparency which talks/workshops are done by sponsors.
Jak Cloudentity testuje swoje produkty – zbiór dobrych praktyk: API, Selenium, Docker, proces by Mateusz Ciołek
How does Cloudentity test, collection of practices for by Mateusz Ciołek
I wasn’t at this presentation but I have heard that it was an excellent presentation. Good material and nicely presented.
Headless Browser Testing w kontekście wydajności by Tomasz Klepicki
Headless Browser Testing in performence context by Tomasz Klepicki
I will admit I haven’t read its agenda, so I was expecting some presentation about the usage of browsers to do performance testing. So you can imagine my surprise when it turns out it was actually a great presentation on a performance of the headless browsers.
Tomasz made a great comparison showing the difference between chromium, chrome, firefox and htmlunit in headless mode. Tl;dr Chrome headless was performing the best.
In the next slot, I spent with Michał Slezak he was preparing for his presentation. So we had an about an hour to kill we have a great discussion about automation and performance.
Next was his presentation about BackStopJS – I have seen it before, but I have enjoyed watching it again.
At this point, I decided to leave – I was too tired, my original plan was to stay for after-party, but my body told me no – you need to rest.
So How was my presentation?
I think my presentation at TestCamp was my best performance yet.
Before my talk, I noticed that my friend Kamila aka DragonQA had Touthles blouse, so I stole it and did my presentation in it.
It was fun, but I won’t lie it was soo damn hot in it.
I had one moment of panic in my presentation – I wanted to show in c# code for FindElement, and by accident, I deleted my bookmarks – I couldn’t show it, and I panicked a little, but I have recovered quite fast.
The thing I am most proud of is the pace – I managed to slow down and finish on time.
The reception of my presentation – at least the ones that were shared with me, were positive.
Kamila gave me good constructive feedback – I will implement it in my next iteration of this talk.
Karolina my other friend who had seen we my talks over the years said that I’d made significant progress as a speaker, and that means a lot to me. Cause personally for a lot of time I feel like I am not moving forward and I am making same mistakes over and over.
I few people told me it was the most technical talk so far.
So to sum it up at first glance TestCamp was a fairly average event, it had some hiccups, but it was first such big event for the organisers, so I still say they managed quite well.
As far for me, the agenda was hit and miss. But it was full of new names, so again kudos for organisers for taking the risk.
I need to reiterate one thing; it was a huge free conference with cheap workshops! (For comparison NoBs conference has workshops for 900 PLN, conference ticket for 500 PLN or 1200 PLN for both.)
This is not an easy fit! I think Test:Fest spoiled us all with putting the quilty bar for conferences very high. To the place that many not only free but also paid conferences cant reach.
But I would recommend something to conference organisers – try to find out some room on some space where people could spend some time to wind down, sit and discuss what they’re seen and learned.
I think it may help with the problem of people leaving early from being too tired.
Huge Thank You to Łukasz Pietrucha and Kamila Polańska for proofreading this article.