The agile acceptance testing days in Gent (#aatd)

I didn’t know what to expect of this convention, but I am getting more interested in testing in general. I’ve been doing some work around test automation on a technical level but never on acceptance testing, more like the unit and component testing.

When I arrived at the scene, first thing that I noticed was the rather small number of people there. I’m used to the Microsoft techdays and in comparison to that this was a very small crowd. I liked the fact that we were only about 70 there, that way you can have better interaction between all the attendants.

I’m not going to go through all the sessions. I just want to pick out a couple of subjects that are still lingering in my mind. We saw a lot of different tools, frameworks, to enable people to work in a Behavior Driven Development process. I must admit this was completely new to me. I know what Test Driven Development is, but I never heard of BDD. I don’t think my mind has ever been so open for anything. So I just let Gojko, Aslak, Alex and all the other presenters make their case. I sat back and tried to take in as much as I could. I think it was somewhere during the first day that I was convinced I wanted to try this methodology. I’m certainly not at the point where I want to integrate this into a large project; I don’t have the experience for this. But I am going to try it in my next in-house project.
We saw a couple of nifty tools like Cucumber (love that name), GivWenZen (love that name even more), GuiDancer (why are all these tools getting to have cool names?), JNarrate, ETA and Fitnesse. Ok, by now I know that this Fitnesse thing is nothing new; it’s been out there for some time. But I just never heard of it, I think mostly because of my biggest realization of this convention which I will elaborate on next. All these tools have a lot of merit and have a serious potential.

BDD is still a Java community thing. There was not a single piece of .Net code to be seen anywhere these two days. Looks like the .Net community is not fully in sync with this way of working yet. Do I see some opportunities here? I also found it quite easy to read Java code, although it has been at least five years since I wrote my last line of Java.
I’ve been looking for a new project to develop in-house and I think this convention gave me the correct amount of information and energy to think a bit about an open source tool for integrating this BDD into visual studio. I’m going to do some serious surfing and testing to find some open source projects out there that are already trying to do this. Maybe I can even find one which I can use as a base for my integration tool. I’ll keep you in the loop when I actually start development.

Apart from the BDD oriented talks, there were also a couple of people that shared their personal experience in working agile on all kinds of different projects: in-house, outsourced, with distributed teams, for the government (which is not easy, trust me I know. I’ve been trying to do that the last two years. But that’s a completely different story).
I liked the fact that other people were having difficulties too, I’m not the only one who has trouble trying to convince other people this agile way of working is a really good idea. I found it very interesting to hear other people asking the same questions I’ve been asking myself the last couple of months. The answer is actually rather simple to write down, a bit harder to implement. The key to an agile way of working is communication and there is no one best practice for every situation. There are a lot of different factors that you need to account for when you try to implement your own agile methodology. There is no all solving answer (except for 42 off course). There is no black dragon (thanks Gojko for this analogy) that can solve your team’s problems. You have to try things, experiment and always keep an (agile) open mind. And never forget that only by making errors you can grow and improve your way of working.

To quickly summarize: this was definitely something completely different from what I’m used to and I liked it a lot. Thanks to all the speakers for their insight, thanks to Maarten for organizing all of this and thanks to the attendees for being a part of this because after all if it weren’t for us attendees, there wouldn’t have been a convention 😉

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