This STPCon, Spring 2012, was absolutely wonderful. There were keynotes, tutorials, even a panel discussion that got a little hot. (Don't worry, we'll have some coverage on the podcast
. It won't be the same as the conference, but we'll have some conference coverage for you.)
Then again, toward the end, a few of us were kicking around ideas on how to take it up a notch.
Is it just me?
Or is it a little odd that we spent three or four days at a conference without touching a keyboard, doing any actual, like, you know, testing?
Oh, it was probably the sessions I picked. I'm sure there were pockets of actual hands-on testing activities, and certainly there were tester games and puzzles in the hallway. Wouldn't it be nice if we had a hands-on testing track, filled with either actual doing of testing or real-world case studies of building systems - the kind you could take home and do yourself on Monday? (Or the kind that make you want to break out your laptop, download the free tool, skip the next session and try it yourself?)
We tried a hands-on track before - in Las Vegas, at STPCon Fall 2010. At the time, the problem was marketing; we failed to get the word out, to beat the drum, to make it clear that we wanted sessions that were about actual testing. As a result, we didn't get enough proposals, and many were hands-on in the sense of interactive workshops, not hands-on-keyboard, butt-in-seat, actually doing testing
. We also had some infrastructure issues. Some instructors wanted to use windows machines and needed software pre-installed, so we tried to use Virtual Machines and remote desktop, and had ... limited success.
It's been two years, and we learned a lot. It may be time to try again.
So Tim Peysar and I went over the folks at the registration desk and said "Hey, have we got an idea for you -- how about a conference track of hands-on sessions?"
The only problem: Who's going to speak, and what are they going to say?
This is where you come in
We are going to solicit talks through the regular STPCon Call for Proposals
for the fall conference. At the same time, proposing and running one of these talks takes a lot of time and planning -- at least do to well.
So to give you as much time as possible, I took our tentative, unapproved, not-ready-for-prime-time track description and have posted it below.
If you want to talk about actual testing -- real testing, with concrete examples, here is yet another chance to shine.
Sharpen your pencils. Tell your friends. Get cracking.
This is going to be awesome.
(Tentative) (Unapproved) Hands-On Track Description
Tired of Powerpoint? Sick of moving cards around on a wall?
Want to actually test something, learn about a new tool, technique, or pattern?
Maybe it's time for something hands-on.
This track is full of compelling content involving actual hands-on-keyboard testing - doing it and helping others do it.
We envision two types of track talks:
1) Demonstrate a test technique, have everyone fire up a laptop, go to a webpage, and apply your technique or tool. Ideal sessions will be entirely web-based. If students need to download a platform-neutral tool, include a URL in your abstract. (Suggestions: Adobe Air, Flash, maybe a java-based app, etc.)
2) Have you solved an interesting problem at work by combining tools or technologies? Have a compelling case study involving modeling and simulation? If you can give the kind of talk that will inspire people, have them opening laptops, downloading tools, and building stuff during your talk and in the hallway afterwords -- this might be the track for you.
We are looking for a mix of these two approaches, or a third or fourth concept we forgot. While it is possible to do some simulations (critique of a writing sample, etc), our vision for this track is that is involves mostly actual, like, you know, testing and stuff.
A test conference where you actually test. It's crazy.
If you want to KICK TAIL and CHEW BUBBLEGUM, and you just ran out of BubbleGum - This track is for you.
This is the end of Matt's blog post, but, hopefully, the beginning of something great. If you have an idea you would like to talk you can always email me, Matt.Heusser@gmail.com to get the discussion going, or leave a comment here to invite the community to respond.