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ConTESTNYC 2019 (Part 1) - "A family gathering of great minds from all over the world"

There is a saying "Last but not the Least", and its true for ConTESTNYC as well. This Test Conference was the last one of the year but it was certainly one of the best one. Let's get started and come with me for a vivid ride of knowledge, networking and world class gathering of quality assurance professional around the globe.


ConTestNYC is 4 years old conference and this year it has grown 3x and had around 200 attendees from more than 20 countries. The chair Tanya Kravtsov, Sr. Director, Audible and Organizer/founder TestMasterAcademy Anna Royzman put up a spectacular gathering of world class speakers for 5 days, full of fun, starting from first two days training, 3rd day tutorials, 4th day multiple track talks and last day single track keynotes.


This years 2 days certification tutorials were given by Lalitkumar Bhamare Senior Software Test Engineer, XING SE,Germany. The Wednesday tutorials were like savory platter, they ranged from Appium( Rajdeep Verma), visual testing (Angie Jones), Java -maven framework(Corina pip) to Whole team approach for CD (Lisa Crispin/Anna Royzman), Test strategy for Context (Jesper Ottosen). I haven't seen these many awesome tutorials under one roof and Kudos to Anna/Tania for arranging it.


I got the opportunity to attend Lisa and Anna's tutorial on the whole team approach on continuous delivery. Though I was super sleep deprived after a redeye flight from Los Angeles, the tutorial kept me very engaged. The room was overfull with more than 40 attendees and we were divided in to 6 different teams. My table was very diverse as we had representation from Poland, Denmark , NYC and of course me from Los Angeles. The tutorial was an eye opening exercise for me as I learn how to engage whole team in various phases of SDLC. Its a myth that QA needs to test when the product is ready. If a team is trying to achieve quality in true sense in the era of continuous delivery then we have to test plan, branching strategies, code, merge, build, release, after deployment is done , in production and monitoring phase.


Our first workshop session was to understand how to deliver tiny changes in increments and come up with a MVP of a product we like. My team came up with an idea of a tourism app. This app will extend on top of google map, provide NYC Time Square traveller a better 3D experience. It will also visualize top spots in a unique way when they select the streets. The Next cool thing we learned and very much applicable to my day to day job is called "Affinity Mapping", to sets goals, identify problems and brainstorm with sticky notes. Below is an example how we can visualize hiring process.


The next topic was building quality culture and some of the key learning was sharing a common goals. Though business might wants to make money , developer wants the product to work, c level might cares about branding, there should be a common purpose to achieve a project. We need to build relationship across roles and continuously learn and improve. We also learned about continuous holistic testing approaches, what continuous improvement means and how to prioritize task. One more interesting topic was to understand the difference between deployment and release. How we could deploy any tiny change with help of feature flag toggle and release only when the whole product is in stable state. I feel very proud to say we already use these practices at Goodrx. Lisa and Anna also recommended few books during this workshop.























After the first half of the session we took a few minutes snacks break, then we started our session again. The next thing we learned about was, the Straw man design technique - It is a starting point for project and encourages iterative design mindset. But the best of all session was visualizing pipelines. We were given post cards to design our own pipelines and it was fascinating how it could deferred in the whole world. The wow moments were when I and Brian in my team conveyed the importance of smoke testing after every build and we all together decided we don't need separate deployment environment and lot of the testing could go in parallel like performance and security. This whole session was super engaging.



Though we had quite a bit more workshops in between, the last thing stick to my mind is the best practices of automation and monitoring. the analogy of car head lights was brilliant. Lot of us fail to understand automation test should not be use for monitoring and there is better tools out there for this task. If a company is genuinely interested in improving quality they should invest in automating core business requirements and don't spend too much time automating unbaked features and evaluate risk over values. Ultimately we should value the features that most beneficial to our customer.


The half day training went by so quickly that we did not realized we just spend 4 hours, learning and practicing how to build a whole team quality approach in this devops era. I could not have thought about a better start for my last conference of 2019. Oh it was 5:30pm by the time we finished the workshop and I was so ready for my speaker dinner. Stay tuned .....for the rest of the experience.

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