Last week I was in Toronto for the TesTrek Symposium hosted by Quality Assurance Institute.  There were, what seemed to me, some 200 to 250 testers hanging out and talking about testing.  In downtown Toronto.  Cool.

So, I had the opportunity to spend time with people I had met briefly before the last two years I’ve been there.  Yeah, it seems hard to believe this was my third TesTrek.  Go figure.

The advantage of returning to the same conference, particularly if it is hosted in the same city, is you get to catch up and get to know other people you met there better than you can in a single meeting.  In my case, I got to have a really nice series of conversations with both Tommas Marchese and Stephen Reiff – both of whom I met previously, but had the chance to spend time with each other, chat and learn.

Other people I see fairly frequently, mostly at other conferences, were Nancy Kelln, Adam Goucher, Fiona Charles.  These folks are smart, capable testers.  You hear a lot of marketing hype about “thought leaders” or “technical experts” or other buzzwords.  You know what’s really interesting?  The people who are the real deal don’t take those titles on themselves. 

Monday and Tuesday at TesTrek consisted of a Manager’s Workshop.  This is an interesting model in that the participants break into groups and discuss topics of interest to, well, test managers.  The times I’ve been involved in these workshops have been mentally invigorating, if not exhausting.  This year, the day-job  kind of got in the way so I could not attend and participate.

I drove to Toronto on Tuesday, checked into the hotel in Toronto, then went looking for the fun.  I found the folks from the conference, like Darrin Crittenden and Nancy Kastl.  I had the chance to sit down and have the first of many chats with Fiona and Tommas, and Nancy when she arrived from Calgary. 

Wednesday opened with a “Pre-Keynote” by Tommas Marchese.  His topic was “Heads Up Testers: Striving for Testing Excellence.”  In short, it was a call to action for testers to break out of the mold that some companies expect testers to stay in.  He had several solid points and I thought it was an excellent start to the day. 

The keynote following this, after all, this was a “pre-keynote” was a panel presentation with representatives from Microsoft, Micro Focus, HP and IBM-Rational.  I did not find this an OK idea, and thought it would be better to have greater opportunity for audience participation, questions and the like. 

The rest of the day was broken into workshop and presentation sessions.  Tuesday these consisted of presentations around Test Measurement, Cloud Computing, Test Leadership, Security Testing and others.  Nancy Kelln gave a workshop on Test Estimation that had originally been intended to be given along with her Partner-in-Crime/Conferences, Lynn McKee.  She challenged people’s expectations, just as I thought she might.

Tommas Marchese boldly gave a session on regression testing that he was not scheduled to give.  Filling in and giving a presentation not your own can be a problem.  He did a respectable job, I thought, and made some good points. 

After the opening reception, with some more conversations, a handfull of us went to the Elephant & Castle around the corner for a quiet pint and conversation.  I retired early to rest for the next day and prepare for my presentation.