Category Archives: What I read this week

Talking about Record and Playback at the Birmingham Test Meetup – What I Read Last Week (21st July 2019)

This week I attended the Birmingham #MidsTest meetup, where I presented my talk “The Joy of Record and Playback in Test Automation” for the first time. I am due to give this same talk at TestBash Manchester and Test Con Europe, both in October this year.

I was great to be able to give this talk before these conferences. I can practice and read through each slide as much as possible, but it is nothing like presenting in front of actual people. I was able to highlight a few areas where things did and didn’t work. This allows me to make some improvements before I next give this talk.

I also gave another 99 second talks – I love these. This time I talked about the importance of communicating with developers to help with testing efforts. I’ll write this up into a blog post at some point next week.

Future Events

Personas – Power Hour
Ministry of testing are hosting another power hour on The Club, this time about Personas. If you have any questions, post them by 7pm on 24th July (British Summer Time).

Social Media Discussions

Smoke Testing vs Sanity Testing
I was asked my opinion on a LinkedIn discussion which I was more than happy to share. It was regarding the use of smoke and sanity testing. Smoke testing is where we test the key features in an application, but only do basic checks. Sanity testing is where only a specific feature is tested, but we go a lot deeper into checking that the feature works exactly as expected. I prefer to do sanity testing when a change has been made to the application, and smoke testing every 2 – 4 weeks depending on how much the system has changed. What are your thoughts?
Thanks to Bharath Selvam for bringing this post to my attention.

Excuses, Blame and Fear
I started a discussion on The Club a couple of months ago on testing excuses and if they are evidence of testing incompetence, negative workplace culture, or something else. A few people have added some interesting responses to the discussion in the last week.

Different Between Static and Dynamic Testing?
Never be afraid to ask a question. The Club is a great place to ask for help and clarify someone you fully know or understand. Here, someone asks a question of the different between static and dynamic testing. Do you know?

Testability – Power Hour
This event took place the week before last, and had some interesting responses. Testability is a subject that has really interested me in the last few months. Questions I posts included one on testability for manual and automated testing, what we should ask for when asking for improvements on Testability, and what to do when something cannot be controlled or observed via the UI.

Articles and Blog posts

Maybe You Don’t Need a Date Picker – Adrian Roselli
Picking a date can be a complex and tedious process, especially on smaller mobile devices. Surely having to scroll through seemingly endless lists isn’t the best way?

Two Rules That Make You Look Smart When You Ask Questions – Dan Rockwell – Leadership Freak
There is no such thing as a stupid question, but there is such a thing as asking a question in a stupid way.

What to say in a standup – One Man – The life of one man
What is a standup and what do we need to say? Who needs to attend?

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The Club
A forum for discussing, asking questions, answering questions, and requesting help. Run by the Ministry of Testing.

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Learning about SpecFlow at the London Tester Gathering Workshops – What I read last week (8th July 2019)

I was recently given the opportunity to attend one of the London Tester Gathering Workshops. These took place over 3 days and included a variety of full and half day workshops – between the 26th and 28th June 2019. I’d been lucky enough to have won a ticket in a LinkedIn competition. We were asked to choose the workshop we’d like to attend and give a reason why. When I saw that one of the workshops was about learning to ‘Automate BDD scenarios using SpecFlow’, I knew I had to enter the competition. My reason was simple, at work we were hoping to start using SpecFlow to improve our current test coverage.

I learnt a great deal attending this workshop. I was sat at a table with a develop and tester from the same company who had travelled all the way from Ulverston in Cumbria (a beautiful part of the country, I have family who live up there so I travel there often). Chatting to them about the exercises really helped enhance my learning.

There was also a definite advantage of being taught about SpecFlow from the creator himself – Gáspár Nagy. He went into great detail about Behaviour Driven Development (BDD), the understanding is essential to using SpecFlow. He explained the exercises fully so that we could complete them in the workshop, or complete them at home.

This was the first time I’d attended a workshop like this one. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity. I definitely plan to attend more in the future. The opportunity to learn about the subject from an expert (especially the creator), and discuss with other attendees provided a really positive learning experience. We were provided with enough information to apply our new skills to our own testing projects, and given enough additional resources to expand our skills further.

I wrote a blog post about my experiences:

Lee Marshall also attended the London Tester Gathering Workshops. He attended the EventStorming; Deliberate, Collaborative Learning Between Multiple Disciplines workshop by João Rosa and Kenny Baas-Schwegler. He wrote about his experiences on his own blog:


259 – New way to learn test automation with Angie Jones
Angie Jones talks about her role as a Developer Advocate at Applitools and the test automation university – a free, online platform that allows people to develop test automation skills from all over the world.

258 – Boozang A new approach to UI Testing with Mats Ljunggren
Mats Ljunggren introduces Boozang, a codeless automation tool that uses AI to improve maintenance and speed up the creation of automated tests.

Articles and Blog Posts

5 tips how software testers can collaborate with software developers – T. J. Maher – medium
” Developers aren’t opponents. We are teammates. We’re partners.”
A brilliant article about the importance of maintaining positive relationships between developers and testers. Key ideas include encourage both to participate in planning sessions and not letting your frustrations get to you when your work is criticised.

Why the three part user story template works so well – Mike Cohn – Mountain Goat Software
This article looks at the positives of the user story, that it provides context by informing us who it applies to, what they want and why they want it. It also looks at the negatives when user stories start with ‘as a user’. This can indicate lazy thinking and that the designers are unaware who the ‘users’ are.

Why I run a meetup – Lee Marshall – Pirate Tester
Lee Marshall talks about how and why he runs test meetups. Lee runs the #MIdsTest meetup, which takes place each month, alternating between Birmingham and Coventry (England). I regular attend these meetups and was given the opportunity to speak at one back in January this year. I will be speaking at the next meetup on 17th July.

You do not need to make the wrong assumption about your users anymore – Joel Montvelisky – qablog
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
I previously used this philosophical riddle in a lightning talk at the Fall 2019 OnlineTestConf. I looked at how the impact on bugs can dramatically increase when a bug is not ‘heard’. In this article, Joel Montvelisky provides an alternative take on this idea. If there is no sound, does this imply that the bug is not important? Should we be the ones making this assumption?

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Make way for collaboration – What I Read Last Fortnight (30th June 2019)

Last week, I attended a conference about UX and Design. Why should a software tester attend a conference aimed at designers?

A feature may meet the technical requirements, but if it is poorly designed then the negative user experience may encourage users to stop using the application. If there are no users, then the application is pointless. User experience is an essential part of software testing. As testers, we have to make sure that the application both works and provides the user with a positive user experience. Designers are the best people to talk to about understanding and enhancing the user experience.

Monzo is an interesting banking app designed with user experience in mind. Its aim was to make banking easier by erasing the frustrations commonly associated with traditional banking. Juliana Martinhago, product designer at Monzo, delivered an interesting talk about how this was achieved. Teams were formed around outcomes not features, and getting feedback from users so that the right solution was released.

Jon Fisher, head of UX at Nomensa, talked about the possibility of poorly designed applications killing someone. A few real life examples were given to demonstrate why it is important to look at potential pain points as well as value when designing something.

Gavin Strange, director and designer at Aardman Animations (the company that produced Wallace and Gromit, Shaun the Sheep and Chicken Run) provided an energetic talk about the importance of creativity, trying out new ideas and sharing them with the world.

Catalina Butnaru discussed the principles of ethical AI and the Minimum Ethical Product approach to create ethical AI applications.

Eriol Fox, senior product designer at Ushahidi, delivered a talk on diversity – an essential topic in any design discussion. Examples of poorly designed applications that succeeded in alienating certain demographics who were written off as edge cases. Do we really want to be abandoning potential users of our products?

Applications should be designed with the end user in mind. Collaboration is the key to achieving this. Collaboration with potential users, collaboration with designers, collaboration with all stakeholders involved in the development of the application. Software testers need to ensure that the application doesn’t just work on a technical level, but also need to ensure that it works for the customer.

Articles and blog posts

11 reasons why behaviour driven development can fail, Evgeny Tkachenko, Stickyminds
Lack of time and resources, not enough information and inconsistency can lead to BDD to fail. It is an approach that is hard to implement, but is powerful when it works.

Delivering estimates and the 5 stages of Good Grief – Adam Knight – A Sisyphean task?
Estimation is not an easy task, and the response is not always positive. In this article, Adam Knight compared these responses to the 5 stages of grief in the Kübler-Ross model:

  • Denial – That can’t be right
  • Anger – You’ve not done your job. You are wrong, how dare you give this estimate
  • Bargaining – What can be do to cut back and reduce this estimate
  • Depression – We can’t deliver on time, everything is ruined
  • Acceptance – We’ve finally delivered.

Forget about bugs – Dave Westerveld – Off beat testing
What do we do about bugs that we know are never going to be fixed? We know that they will forever remain in the backlog (or the abyss as I like to call it).

Verifying entire API responses – Angie Jones
When verifying an API response, do you look check the entire response or only a few key points?

Steven Watson’s series on preparing to speak at conferences

Steven Watson has published the final section of his series of preparing to speak at conferences. Here, I’ve shared all 4 parts of the series:


What has happened in the last 2 weeks? Quite a lot…

Collaborate Bristol 2019
This was the 2nd time I attended Collaborate Conf, a conference dedicated to UX and design. I wrote a series of blog posts where I summarised my own interpretation of each talk:

London Tester Gathering Workshops – Automate Scenarios with Specflow
Last week I was lucky enough to attend the London Tester Gathering Workshops. There was a choice of 3 full day workshops, and 12 half day workshops which took place over 3 days. I attended the full day workshop on Specflow, run by Gaspar Nagy the creator of Specflow. This talk provided a brief introduction to Behaviour Driven Development and writing scenarios. We were then shown how to use Specflow to automate these scenarios. I’m hoping to use Specflow in my current test project. I am really excited to see how my testing strategy develops when I introduce what I learnt in this workshop.

#Midstest Meetup in Coventry – Baking Codeless Test Automation with Paul Coles
Its been a while since I attended one of the Midlands test meetups so I decided to attend the latest one despite the long drive to Coventry. Fortunately, the journey was not a waste. Paul Coles delivered an informative demo of Leapworks codeless test automation platform. I’d previously seen this tool in action at the UKSTAR software testing conference earlier this year, where Leapworks were once of the sponsors. It was good to see an extended and more in depth demonstration of the application.

#Midstest 99 second talk
After the main talk, we were given the opportunity to deliver a 99 second talk. This time I came prepared and brought along a block from a patchwork quilt I’m currently making. Using this, I explained that a quilt is made up of several blocks. Each one has to be tested at various stages of the quilts development. If we find a defect too late, it can be very costly to fix. The same principle can be applied to testing. We shouldn’t just test the application at the end, we should run tests at all stages of the software development life-cycle. Bugs found later on cost more to fix. I published a blog post that explains this analogy in more detail – A stitch in time reduces critical defects.

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What I Read Last Week (16th June 2019)

It is a little last minute, but I am so excited to be given the opportunity to attend the London Tester Gathering Workshops. I will be attending the ‘Automate Scenarios with SpecFlow’ workshop on the 26th June, run by Gáspár Nagy.

Specflow is a framework that uses Behaviour Driven Development. We’ve been looking into trying out new test automation frameworks at work and this is one that we’re hoping to use more extensively.

Response to ‘How do you solve a problem like Selenium?’

Last week, I wrote a little more about the AB Testing podcasts thoughts on the industry obsession with UI testing and Selenium. João Farias, who runs the blog, shared a couple of interesting articles on the subject.

What do you mean by UI tests? by Mark Winteringham, Automation in Testing
Are we testing the UI or testing through the UI? In this post, Mark discusses the definition of UI tests a little more. Not everything needs to be tested through the UI, but ultimately it is about risk. The risk defines the approach, not the tool.

Testing Ember Applications: First Steps by João Farias, That’s a bug
João talks about his previous experience testing using Ember which tests the front end code, rather than the UI (which Selenium does).

Link to the comments can be found here. Thanks for sharing João, much appreciated!


Ask Me Anything – Shift Left, Shift Right – Marcus Merrell
A brilliant AMA, hosted by the MInistry of Testing. Many brilliant questions were asked about Shift Left and Shift Right, and Marcus Merrell gave some brilliant answers to them all.

Further questions and discussion on the subject can be viewed here:

Articles and blog posts

Beware the inexperienced automation team, Beaufort Fairmont
We wouldn’t allow a team to only consist of entry-level developers. So why would we allow inexperienced test automation engineers or testers with no coding experience develop automated tests?


State of Testing Survey 2019, Practitest
Practitest have published their annual state of testing survey. Have a look to see how your experiences compare with other software testers around the world.

The ultimate list of 100 software testing quotes by Sofia Palamarchuk, Abstracta
A list of quotes on quality, testing, automation and some other fun ones. Here is a small selection:

  • “To those who say that “if you need testing at the end, you’re doing it wrong”, would you prefer a Boeing, or are you going Air Icarus?”Michael Bolton
  • “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ but ‘Now that’s funny…’” Isaac Asimov
  • “Just because you’ve counted all the trees doesn’t mean you’ve seen the forest.”— Anonymous
  • “If we want to be serious about quality, it is time to get tired of finding bugs and start preventing their happening in the first place.”— Alan Page
  • “Where is the ‘any’ key?” Homer Simpson

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How do you solve a problem like Selenium? – What I read last week (9th June 2019)

I currently have a 40 minute commute each morning. Generally, it is an enjoyable drive with only one point where I am slowed down by rush hour traffic. Each morning, on the way to work, I listen to a podcast episode. There are several I follow, including some about software testing which are listed in my weekly ‘What I read last week’ blog post.

Last week, I listened to the AB Testing podcast – presented by Alan and Brent. This is only the 2nd time I’ve listened to this podcast. The main reason I don’t listen to it often is because the length of an episode is longer than the time it takes for me to drive to work – and I prefer to listen to an episode in one sitting. I started listening to episode 102.

One of the presenters had previously expressed his dislike for Selenium and as a result, twitter went crazy. It would seem that there are a lot of people in the testing community who are fiercely protective of Selenium. (I confess, I’ve not seen the original discussion. If anyone can send me a link to include, I would be grateful).

In my experience, there are usually 2 reasons why someone may criticize a test automation framework:

  • Lack of experience actually using the framework so being unable to fully utilize all its features.
  • Wanting to promote a different framework

It would appear that their reasons for disliking Selenium are neither of these. In episode 102 of the AB testing podcast, Alan and Brent expanded on their views a little more. They put forward some interesting points about the industry infatuation with UI testing. One point they made was that UI testing should be a last resort when the software is untestable. They also suggest that the industry obsession with UI testing is a result of the separation of developers and testers. There is no incentive for the developers to make the code testable in the first place, meaning that there is no choice but to resort to UI testing.

Alan and Brent appear to be more against UI testing in general rather than Selenium. However, Selenium has made it easier for novices to write automated tests without fully understanding how they work.

Personally, I wouldn’t be so quick to completely dismiss UI testing. However I do admit to being guilty of relying on it too much. I am aware of this issue and am hoping to work more on integration and unit testing in the future. With regards to UI testing, I believe that it is okay to use tools like Selenium so long as you fully understand what is going on in the code. Observe the code, break it down, understand it, and made any changes necessary. It should be understandable and maintainable.


AB Testing podcast, episode 102 – Modern Testing takes on UI Automation
Discussion about the industry obsession with UI testing, encouraged by Selenium.

AB Testing 103 – The Croissants are Selenium
Follow up from the previous episode where inventor of Selenium, Jason Huggins, shares his thoughts on the previous episode.

Blogs and Articles

Write better bug resolutions, Alexey Sotskov, Medium
Who has closed off a bug with a single comment like ‘verified’? What does this mean? In this article, Alexey discusses why more detail is needed and what additional information should be included.

The testers role in agile, Ana Leyva, Abstracta
In this article, Ana examines the importance of the testing role and the overall benefits of testing. Things are changing, but the tester role will always remain relevant.

Software development explained with cars, Mark Virkus, Toggl
Contains a very amusing cartoon which brilliantly explains what Waterfall, Agile, Kanban, Scrum and Lean are.

Steven Watson’s series on preparing to speak at conferences

Steven Watson is currently publishing a series of blog posts on conference speaking which are very useful. This week he published part 3.

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What I read last week (2nd June 2019)

Last weekend I arrived back in the UK after my trip to Colorado. Contrary to popular belief, travelling for work is exhausting. So many people seem to think I was there on holiday. This was the second trip I had to take this year (the first trip was back in March). I’m hoping this will be the last for some time.

Despite this, we did find time at the weekend to travel to Boulder – a wonderful town and highly recommended if anyone finds themselves in that part of the world. I took an ‘uber’ for the first time. The driver was the most outspoken person I’d ever met. He kept on complaining about Donald Trump, crazy gun owners and ‘stupid millennials’ (not even sure how some of the topics came up in conversation). I was careful not to reveal my identity as a millennial. Definitely made the journey entertaining.

I’ve didn’t do much reading while on my travels, but I did find time to publish a couple of blog posts:

I also took the time to complete TestProject’s test automation challenge – we were encouraged to use TestProject to create and combine a basic API and UI test. With very little experience in API testing, it was an interesting challenge to take part in. I wrote another blog post describing my experiences in completing the challenge.


Test Talks podcast – The life of a solo automation engineer with Chris Kenst
A very interesting interview with Chris Kenst who talks about his experiences working for startups where he is usually the sole tester. This made me think of my own experiences as a solo tester. I don’t work for a startup, or even what would be considered a ‘small company’. We hire multiple testers but there tends to be only 1 tester per project so I am usually the only tester working on a project. He also mentioned a website he runs with lists of testing conferences. This will be a really useful resource when applying to speak at conferences.

Test Talks podcast – Making load testing with real browsers a reality with Tim Koopmans
An interview with Tim Koopomans who explains what perfomance testing is and how to do performance testing at the browser level as well as protocol layer. He introduces several tools for performance testing, and how to use them.

Articles and Blog Posts

The positive outcomes of negative testing by Kristin Jackvony, TestProject
The importance of negative testing and not just following the happy path. Negative testing can help reveal security flaws and errors that are not handled correctly. It reminded me a little of mutation testing, although they aren’t necessarily the same thing.

Is your testing visible? by Jackie King, gurock
Testers risk blending into the background. It can get to the point where no one knows who you are and what you do. Jackie King provides details of alternative approaches to scrum stand ups, demonstrating test coverage and collaborating with other team members so that you, as a tester, becomes visible.

Write better bug titles by Alexey Sotskov, medium
Bugs must be fast and easy to find. Alexey Sotskov suggests that the best way to achieve this is to write good bug titles. The titles are the first thing you see, and therefore the best way to make the bug easy to find.

Social Media Discussions

Ministry of Testing Power Hour – Test Cases and Scenarios
On 29th May, Gaspar Nagy took the time to answer as many questions as possible on test cases and scenarios. I submitted 3 questions in total, all of which had excellent answers.

Are long commutes to work worth it?
Kate Pexton had some controversial views about spending a large amount of time commuting to work. What are you thoughts on this?

Steven Watson’s series on preparing to speak at conferences

As you know, I am due to speak at 3 conferences this Autumn. I’ve really jumped into the deep end here as I’ve never spoken at a conference before (unless you count meetups and the OnlineTestConf).

Steven Watson is currently publishing a series of blog posts on conference speaking which are very useful. Here are the 2 he’s published so far:

I plan to write a few blog posts on my experiences over the summer, but these will be from a beginners point of view. Steve Watson is providing some excellent advice which will be useful while I prepare to give my talks over the next few months.

For fun…

I’d heard of the burger menu, but didn’t realize other menu design variations had their own food themes names:

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What I read last week (12th May 2019)

This week, my second Game of Thrones blog post was published on In this blog post, I compare the tactics used in the Battle of Winterfell to the testing pyramid. I also took the time to watch the Star East lightning talks, which are available to watch online for 3 months. I’ve written summaries for each lightning talk on this weeks blog post. Lightning talks may be short, but I really encourage people to watch them. They are an amazing source of inspiration.

I am travelling to Colorado again this week for work, so there isn’t likely to be another blog post for a couple of weeks. When travelling for work, I find I have a lot less time for reading and writing. On my last visit, by the time I’d recovered from the Jet Lag it was time to return to the UK.

Social Media Discussions

Testing automation engineers failing to check that tests are correct – by Jaydeep Basu
Why do we assume that our tests are correct? When a test passes, is this an indication of the application working or the test automation being wrong so failing to find a bug?
Ironically, while responding to my comment, Michael Bolton finds a bug and reports it in the comment.

Which job is harder? Development or Testing? – by Brijesh Deb
The testing role is often unappreciated and overlooked, but how does it compare to development? Do both roles deserve the same level of respect?

Canary Release – by myself
I heard this term a couple of times recently (but failed to record where). It is something we’ve done before but I never knew this was what it was called. The phrase itself sounds both funny and relevant, which is why I love it so much and had to start a discussion on it.

Blog Posts and Articles

Differences Between AI and Machine Learning, and Why it Matters by Robert Iriondo, Medium
The last couple of years have seen a surge in interest for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Although people do seem confused about what they actually are. This article brilliantly explains what each one is, demonstrating that they are not the same thing. Particularly for machine learning, Robert Iriondo explains the different types of learning that may be covered.

Seven Excuses Software Testers Need to Stop Making by Kristin Jackvony, The Thinking Tester
What excuses do you use when you either can’t test something or failed to test something? In this article, Kristin Jackvony examines some of the common excuses and discusses why should no longer be used.

A ScrumMaster Has No Name by Pete Walen, Rhythm of Testing
A blog post describing the essential role of the scrum master – an often thankless task with little praise or prestige. People rarely understand what the role is.

6 Ways Testers Can Add Value (Other Than Functional Testing) by Ajay Balamurugadas, Sticky Minds
A tester does not need to just test. There are other tasks that they can do (and probably should be doing). These include performing a UX review, understanding the customer better by spending time with customer support, and doing some competitor analysis.

Crystal Ball – Automation in Test Years Time – Richard Bradshaw, Friendly Tester
How will test automation change? Richard Bradshaw puts forward his idea of what changes will be made in the next 10 years. Suggestions include self-healing tests and exploratory tests with automated guidance and observation.

7 Pitfalls To Avoid When Testing In Production – Michael Battat, applitools
Michael Battat explores common mistakes people make when testing in producting including failure to include monitoring, not learning from monitoring and including too much monitoring so little value can be gained from it.

Webinars, Virtual Conferences and other online events

StarEast 2019 virtual conference
This conference took place in Florida between April 28th and May 3rd 2019. They have a small selection of talks available to watch on demand for 3 months after the conference. I’ve already watched the lightning talks (I’ve published summaries of these in this weeks blog post), and I plan to watch a couple more at some point in the near future.

Power Hour – Dive into Browser Developer Tools with Alan Richardson and Viv Richards
An event that takes place on 16th May at 7pm (BST). Post any questions before this date.

Dorothy Graham’s Star East Lightning Talk
For her lightning talk, Dorothy Graham wrote a poem which is sung to the tune of ‘These are a few of my favorite things’ from the Sound of Music. I must commend Dorothy on her creativity and bravery for singing this song in front of so many people. Public speaking is hard enough without singing as well. The lyrics have been published on her blog.

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