One of my 2020 goals was to attend more meetupgs. My aim was to attend a minimum of 3 events a month, of which 1 had to be a new meetup I’d not been to before.

This was challenging enough since I don’t live in a city where most meetups take place. It became impossible with the COVID-19 pandemic. I was making good progress throughout January and February. However, throughout March, every meetup got cancelled – including one I was supposed to be speaking at. Its unfortunate but necessary.

Fortunately, many groups and organisations have arranged online webinars to replace the meetups. Networking can still be a challenge, and the food isn’t as good (I can always order my own pizza), but the opportunities for learning are still there.

Here are the webinars I watched this week.

Ask Me Anything – Test Strategies with Huib Schoots

Ministry of Testing regularly host Ask Me Anything webinars. Attendees can submit any question they want, and those watching can vote on which questions they’d like to be answered. This creates an interactive and community driven event.

The latest Ask Me Anything was on March 31st 2020 which saw Huib Schoots answer questions about Test Strategies.

One big takeaway from the webinar, was that a test strategy is context dependent. No strategy should be the same. It should contain specific information about the risks, product and how to test it. This information should be based on information provided by all team members.

You can watch the recording of this webinar here. A free Club account is required to watch.

Sketch notes created after the Ask Me Anything Test Strategies webinar.

The MOTrix Reloaded – The Future Tech by Leigh Rathbone

This webinar was also organised by the Ministry of Testing and arranged to replace the many meetups that have been cancelled. For this talk, we saw Leigh Rathbone talk about his early rock star status as a mobile phone developer and how things have and will change in the future.

I first saw Leigh speak last September at the Pre-SwanseaCon meetup. You can see sketch notes which include Leigh’s previous talk here. Some elements of his lightning talk were also included in this webinar. It was interesting to hear more of the story.

It is Leigh’s belief that mobile phones will eventually lose relevance. This doesn’t mean we will stop using them, but they will cease to be the main focus of innovation. During this talk, Leigh talked about the importance of innovation driven by the customer. Instead of providing customers with products we think they want, we actually ask them for feedback. Develop a new product, and then give it to the customer and ask them for feedback.

Tech Heads – Working and Managing Remotely by Chris Dalzell

The Tech Heads meetup is one I’ve been meaning to attend for a while. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to attend in person later this year.

In this talk, Chris Dalzell discussed how remote teams should be managed, also providing some good tips for individuals who have been suddenly forced to work from home. She made a clear distinction between those who have had to work remotely for years and those who’ve only just started. Long term remote workers will have a proper desk setup, which includes dedicated office space in the home. This is less likely to be the case for those who are used to working in an office. Reduction in productivity is inevitable, and this should be recognized by all members of the team.

You can watch a recording of the webinar here.

Online Lean Coffee

My final online event of the week was an online lean coffee session, arranged by Billy Senior. Those who haven’t taken part in lean coffee before, it usually goes like this.

  1. Participants write down some topic ideas onto post-it notes.
  2. Everyone votes on topics they’d like to discuss
  3. We discuss each topic for a set amount of time until the session ends.

When I first heard about this event, I was initially skeptical. I’ve taken part in lean coffee sessions before, and really enjoyed the experience. I believed that the same experience would be lost without that face to face experience. I was wrong. The session went brilliantly, and the discussion was just as spirited as if we were chatting in person.

The main topic given to us was ‘Building Better Workflows with Automation’. The session was run using ‘metro retro‘, a tool designed for real-time collaboration.

After adding some topic ideas to the board, we voted on what to discuss. The chosen topics were:

  • What % of UI/API automation?
  • Are we following BDD/TDD approach while creating automated test cases?
  • Future of Test Automation

The chosen topics were moved to the ‘to discuss’ section, and then moved across to ‘discussing’ section as we were discussing them at the time. Once we’d finished each discussion, the topic was moved to the ‘discussed’ section.

Final Thoughts…

Just because we can’t meet in person, doesn’t mean that we can’t speak to each other. Different people will offer different interpretations of each talk. The issue with online meetups is that its a lot harder to continue that discussion. The lean coffee session proved that it was still possible to arrange online discussions while self isolating.

New social distancing rules means that there are now more online events than ever. We can still communicate and share our ideas and everyone should be encouraged to do so.