Finding the BBST courses a year or two after taking my first official role as a tester was my first interaction with the AST, and an eye opener into the systematic and deep way one can study testing. Because of work demands, I didn’t have time to complete the Foundations course at the time. But I came back to it, and ultimately also took Bug Advocacy and Test Design over the next few years. They are demanding courses, but very rewarding.
Aside from the BBST courses, interacting with the testing community has been one of the ways I challenge myself to grow as a tester and get (and think) outside the perspective of my specific work context. Talking with others in AST and others has been rewarding as it gets me thinking about things I might not consider and in new and different ways. But I also appreciate when I am able to share my own experience and provide a different perspective on a topic. That’s one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed contributing to and seeing the development of the ebook ‘Navigating the World as a Context-Driven Tester’.
While serving on the Board is not something I had considered previously, I’m glad I was encouraged to pursue this and am looking forward to finding new ways of serving the testing community and further advancing the AST mission.
During the LAWST workshops we gathered together ten to 20 practitioners and academics for two or three day workshops to compare notes on unresolved topics in software testing. We learned from one another based on experience stories about our successes and failures in different projects. We had 16 workshops from 1997 through 2003. We compared experiences to try to figure out why one project was better than another based on the similarities and differences. Around 2000 we started to describe the different projects in terms of their context; a combination of factors (e.g., technology, type of product, company culture, etc.) that made every project unique.
In one of the workshops the topic of radically different approaches to testing we saw in the world. We started to call them “schools of testing” and realized what we were talking about in the workshops was none or all of them, depending on how we looked at it. Based on the context, the approaches from all of the schools were useful. When the wrong approach was used the testing project nearly always failed. Thus a school of context driven testing was born – success using a test approach always depends on the context.
AST was formed so we would have a forum to spread the word about context driven testing and further advance the science and practice of software testing. I am glad for the shared experiences and new ideas I have seen and the discussions I have participated in. I look forward to once again actively participating in AST on the Board.
My first experience with CAST and AST was as a Test Manager for an online university. As someone who had already spent a decade in the field of testing and quality, I was looking for a community; a safe place to share ideas, get away from the constant sales pitches of tooling and certifications, and focus on the act of testing… and more importantly how to practice testing in ways that led to the best outcomes.
The thing that impresses me the most about AST is that its engine is driven by real testers solving real quality problems in real environments, just like me. It’s not biased towards one set of tools or services. There is no hidden agenda. It’s simply there to help people become better testers by learning how to think smarter… learn how to question assumptions and consider the context / constraints of the environments they are testing in. Learn to adapt, experiment, and build real wisdom around the actions and decisions that they take in their testing practice. That is what context driven testing is all about.
I have met life long friends and colleagues through this organization. Testers who I look up to and who help me grow as a quality thought leader. AST is a community of passionate quality practitioners that challenge one another to test smarter as we face ever growing pressures within our roles and how those roles add value in the organizations they serve. I’m proud to be a part of AST and I look forward to serving this community in greater capacity.
I first heard about Context-Driven Testing at a local conference in 2016. Back then I had a few years of experience working as a tester. While I did get mostly positive feedback from my peers, I felt all my work was based on intuition and my own experiences from other fields. I felt I am missing fundamentals and I feared I might be missing some obvious and elementary testing techniques or skills. I tried to fill these gaps by attending an ISTQB preparation course, but it did not deliver what I was looking for.
I don’t remember exactly how Context-Driven Testing was presented in the talk, but my take-away was that I should give it a try. I started by reading “Lessons Learned in Software Testing”, and what a book it was! It not only revolutionized the way I think about testing to this day, but also gave me much-needed confidence. I found I was already doing some of the things that book recommended, but now I knew why they were worth doing.
Context-Driven Testing gave me two overarching principles that I often come back to. One, my role as a tester is to show possibilities and broaden the view of the team. My job is to go beyond simple and quick answers. Two, every single day I need to ask myself: what is the most important, most impactful thing I can do right now? And then do this exact thing, even if it means putting aside earlier plans and ideas. Change is something to embrace, not to be afraid of. I credit these two principles for a large part of my success at my role, as well as helping me to ace some job interviews in the past.
I was a tester for many years before I thought about attending a conference. I was lucky enough to start with CAST. CAST, and the people I met at CAST changed the trajectory of my career. I’ve met brilliant and enjoyable people from all over the world – some of them lifelong friends, some future co-workers and managers, and many that stretched my mind – because I went to CAST and connected with a global software testing community.
Shortly after I attended CAST for the first time, I enrolled in BBST Foundations. It was one of the hardest and most rewarding things I’ve ever done for my career. I’ve seen my classmates enjoy professional success since the course as well. BBST made me appreciate rigor, and awakened an epistemologist in me.
Speaking at CAST and presenting a Tutorial at CAST were two huge milestones in my career. They changed how I thought about myself and what I was capable of. The appreciation and respect from the community gave me confidence to reach higher.
Serving as an AST Board Member is one of the most meaningful experiences I’ve had in my career. Thinking about how I can serve the community and the world has changed how I approach many things in my life. Planning conferences that serve the community and the overall work of running the non-profit organization have been valuable experiences that would be hard to get any other way.
Because of AST, I’ve been able to have all of these experiences to help me build a successful career in software testing. Trying to pay it forward with service to AST only increased my debt, as I’ve learned and experienced even more.
I joined the AST just as I became a tester. I was looking for resources to help me understand what testing was and had found a book, Lessons Learned in Software Testing, that described testing in a way I found extremely intuitive.
I researched the authors (Kaner, Bach, Pettichord) which led me to the Association for Software Testing and then the Black Box Software Testing courses.
I won’t lie, I found the Foundations course intense. Really really intense, but also inspirational. It provided the underpinnings of my testing career: an appreciation of both expertise and experience and the motivation to apply them appropriately in context.
These principles have served me well when I come to test anything, from software to systems and even to myself.
In trying to understand more about what being a tester was all about, I found testingeducation.org, and started reading things by Cem Kaner, and James Bach and Michael Bolton and then I stumbled across conference presentation materials from CAST 2006! And it was like finding treasure. There was a conference! And these guys were presenting things at it! I had to go. I managed to convince my boss to pay the conference fee and I paid for my flights and accommodation to attend CAST 2007 all the way from South Africa.
From then on, my eyes were opened to a world of passionate testers who have inspired and challenged, supported and nurtured me. I have had the opportunity to learn, through BBST, to do the instructor course, to speak at various CASTs, to co-program chair CAST 2013 and now to be part of the board of this very special organisation. AST has been a huge part of how I have grown and developed in my career and I will be forever grateful for the community and support it has given me.
Back in 2008 I joined my first startup as the sole tester. At that point I had only ever worked for large financial companies. My on-the-job training began failing me as those practices were based more on tradition rather than an understanding of what we were doing and the value it provided.
In my search for help I read Lessons Learned in Software Testing, which led me to the Association for Software Testing. Through the AST I found the BBST courses which changed the way I understood software testing. Each course brought a greater level of understanding and a deeper respect for the complexities of the problems we seek to solve with software. I decided the best way to continue learning was to teach it. It’s been a huge part of my life and my contribution back to the community. I’ve been an AST member ever since!
Through the years I’ve met many wonderfully smart people who challenge my thinking and continue to impact on how I think about software. This in turn has helped accelerate my career and given me a solid foundation for tackling future problems.
My first few conferences I visited as a delegate were a local Swiss one and some big commercial conferences in the US. I remember having seen CAST 2010 advertised and I did not dare register, because I thought this is really for the world-class and I am not good enough.
It took me another two years to gather all my courage when I went to CAST 2012, including the Test Coach Camp that took place the days before the conference. Almost immediately, I made connections to a wide variety of testers, many of which I met several times in the course of my testing career. I felt like having tapped into a secret knowledge club of badass testing professionals.
Some of the people I got to know through the AST were instrumental in my career progression; I would not be where I am now, were it not through the contacts I built through the AST. In that sense, the AST has always been my intellectual home base, and because of the existence of the AST, I am a happier person than I would be otherwise.
I found AST pretty late in my career. Well, I found testing conferences in general late in my career. I started in development and knew only about developer conferences and few of the local testing conferences. The local ones focused mainly on a traditional testing methodology and didn’t really inspire me much.
When I started looking into speaking I found a whole new world. Copenhagen Context was my first international testing conference and the year after I was accepted to do my first workshop, as well as a talk, at CAST in Cocoa Beach.
I remember standing on that stage, looking down and seeing Lisa Crispin in the front row. One of the people who had laid the foundation to my view of testing.
Lisa was also the first one to ask a question. Well, more of a disagreement really. But that actually was my biggest take away from CAST. People could ask questions and challenge statements – but in a friendly and interested way. It made me grow a lot to have to, and have the opportunity to, twist and turn my own truths on stage – in front of people who had inspired and taught me. And have continued to since then!
This atmosphere continued in the hall breaks, at dinners and afterwards. I met so many new people, found so much new inspiration and learned so much. It definitely gave me a big boost in both my speaking career and my seniority as a testing professional.
Being accepted into, and serving on, the board has been another large growth opportunity. I have had to learn about marketing, communication, social media, writing for a larger audience and of course – the board meetings and CAST planning have been intense learning opportunities in themselves.
My first encounter with the AST was back in 2007 after I visited a STAR East and was introduced to the work of James Bach and Michael Kelly. I wanted to know more about exploratory testing and found the AST. I became a member and started to collect information to build up my knowledge. I visited some special interest group sessions before I went to my first CAST conference in 2011.
From that moment on I was really hooked. I visited more CAST conferences and more special interest group sessions and even organized them myself with the support of the AST. In 2013, I did my first AST BBST course (Foundations) and in 2015, I became instructor for all the AST BBST courses.
The AST brought me in contact with a lot of interesting people from all over the world. Every CAST conference was unique and special. Always a great learning and social event. In 2018, I ran for the AST board and got elected. On the board I was occupied with the learning activities of the AST and was assigned to organize the CAST 2020 conference (which will not take place due to the COVID-19 crisis).
The AST gave me the opportunity to grow as a professional and enriched me with a lot of knowledge and personal friends.
I consider myself very fortunate to have found the Association for Software Testing many years ago when I was first starting my journey as a context-driven tester. The AST is, in my opinion, the only credible professional association for software testing and being part of it has afforded me many benefits.
The AST’s conferences are truly unique and genuinely focus on conferring. Being part of CASTs in New York in 2014 (as a delegate) and Nashville in 2017 (as a speaker) demonstrated how special these conferences are and how the AST’s lack of commercial interference makes for very different – and I would argue, more valuable – conference experiences.
In supporting me to help organize the AST-branded conferences in Melbourne (in CASTx18 and TiCCA19), the AST again demonstrated their commitment to community building and professional development. The experience I gained by working on these conferences alongside the AST has been highly valuable to me as a professional and member of the broader testing community.
The standard of AST training courses is high and I’ve witnessed first-hand how valuable they can be for testers of various levels of experience while mentoring colleagues through these courses. The courses represent incredible value for money and contrast starkly with offerings from other organizations more focused on profitability and standardization of our craft.
Perhaps the most valuable aspect of my relationship with the AST has been the amazing people I’ve met and formed both professional and personal connections with. Many of these people have been pivotal in my career progression and become part of my circle of trusted advisors.
As a volunteer-led not for profit organization, I’ve made efforts to contribute back to AST by helping to organize conferences, assisting board members with various initiatives and even running for the board myself in 2018.
The professional growth and feeling of belonging that comes with AST membership and volunteering are important parts of my professional identity. I recommend AST membership to anyone with an interest in furthering their knowledge of the craft of software testing.
I’m eager to write this testimonial because the Association for Software Testing has always held a special place in my heart.
Association for Software Testing reminds me of my early days in the field. I participated in group discussions about software testing where the majority of the CAST conference organizers were present and in charge of the group. I eventually improved as a tester by heeding their wise counsel.
Later, I received encouragement about public speaking from a range of community members; CAST 2019 served as the stage for my first speech. I appreciate CAST and the Association for Software Testing for providing me with this opportunity, since it is valuable to me.
I have been seeking to join the board for the past two years. However, I was given the chance to join the Association for Software Testing’s board of directors this year. I am quite excited about this role and learn a lot of valuable stuff from the people here. I am crossing my fingers on this exciting journey.