By Leah Stockley

Wednesday, the 5th of December saw the inaugural AST Test Forum in Singapore.  The first software testing community event for Context Driven testers by testers held in Singapore.

Despite the typically Asian challenge of late night meetings to EU/US, more than 50 testers from companies as diverse as investment banks to gaming, escaped the office early enough to get in some valuable networking time.

Keith Klain, the most recently elected director of the AST board, kicked off proceedings with an overview of the AST. The AST has typically been very US based, so awareness of the Association and the benefits membership brings is pretty low in Singapore… until this event!

Keith talked the attendees through the various aspects of the AST: from its history, the development of
the Black Box Software Testing courses (as a graduate myself, I was able to back up Keith’s claims of the value the courses bring), to the benefits available to members. The AST grant program offers members the ability to request sponsorship and grants for activities to advance the knowledge of testers including hosting events to bring testing professionals together, the Singapore Test Forum being a great example of that.

Keith also mentioned the summerQAmp initiative in US, and requested for volunteers to help investigate plans for a similar program in Singapore. After a walkthrough of the AST code of ethics, and intro to the board of directors, Keith finished with an overview of the other services to members such as blog syndication, free Skype coaching by James Bach, Michael Bolton and Anne Marie Charett, the Special Interest Groups, details of the ultimate Peer Conference: CAST 2013 and the Call For Papers… And of course a suggestion to the audience to consider joining the AST!
The audience were then introduced to the concept of an Experience Report; a format used within the Peer Conferences developed by AST members. An experience report is a less formal presentation where a practitioner relays a recent experience to a group of peers. As majority of the audience were new to the concept (or at least the term) of Context Driven Testing I chose to talk about my experiences over the last 18 months, and the phases I’ve gone through in the journey of becoming ‘context driven’ A typical  experience report does not use a formal presentation; on this occasion i presented using a Mind-map. I’ve found these an invaluable communication tool which I now use daily, so the chance to use the Xmind Presentation Mode whilst talking was a perfect way of showing the power of this medium for a tester to present information.

Another positive aspect of experience reports is the interaction with the audience…  once finished; the presenter opens themselves up to questioning from the audience. Perhaps still a new concept, both presenters got away lightly this time… But as the Singapore Test Forum becomes a more regular event, and the testers form an established community I have no doubt the public questioning will increase. Both presenters were engaged in many conversations in the networking that followed the presentations though and it’s clear whether or not the Context Driven label is applied, there is a growing network of testers in Singapore who are actively looking to improve the way they do their testing and want to discuss and share that experience.
The event finished off with a quick quiz about the AST overview and a giveaway of some AST goodies, and the promise that a mailing list will be formed from the attendees to kick start the community and allow the forum to become a regular event within the Singapore calendar.

A big thanks goes to the AST board for hosting this event, and thanks again to all those who attended. I look forward to meeting you all again at the next Singapore Test Forum.