In the past few days I attended my first Agile TD OpenAir – well, my first AgileTD conference really. Invited and inspired to attend by my coworker Christian last year, four of us from our company decided to attend. So after all the years when attending Barcamps and other conferences it was kind of strange to book a conference last fall/winter which would take place on a beach, at least for me. In this blogpost I want to share my thoughts and lessons learned and also some pictures, I took a lot more, but a few more will be good for other blogposts. 😉
AgileTD – what is that
So, let’s start with the basics – AgileTD stands for Agile Testing Days and is an international IT software testing conference format. And besides events from Ministry of Testing or the Nordic Testing Days I had no real clue what was going on there. The company behind the conference is organising the speakers, the venue, the food and also tries to act as a community.
And as I am about to transform in my role as Senior Test Engineer with experience in Testautomation and Testdatamanagement to more a role of a Product Quality and Agile Testing Coach. Since several years I am working in an agile environment in all the projects and therefore this shift in my career looks quite good. I will write about this also in a future blogpost. Back to the AgileTD OpenAir.
So normally the AgileTD conferences take place in conference setting locations – but (since several years) they do also an event on a beach. In a city, yes. In Cologne they have a part a little bit out of the city center which they call Blackfoot Beach and there it took place. Similar to other conferences they had keynotes, sessions and workshops within an open tent and inside a house, if it would been rainy weather. Spoiler: We had sunshine and it was very warm. ☀️ Yes, sometimes it was too hot to attend all the sessions – gladly there were enough possibilities to get hydrated or use the time to have a swim in the lake or do SUP (Stand Up Paddeling) or even just dip the feet into the cold and refreshing water (what I did).
To get to the beach we had the bus shuttle which took us from the hotel to the venue. There we entered a little part of the beach with the AgileTD Open Air Registration/Information booth where we received our badges, towel and a few nice stickers. As you can see below in the picture, on the left the information booth and to the right towards the water the main venue.
I attended the keynotes and a few talks but also missed the workshops. The workshops seemed to be great, but the too hot weather was to hard for me to concentrate to attend the workshops. I also wanted to network and get in touch with people I have read in the past on blogs and via social media or read their books. So here is a list of visited sessions:
Attended Sessions Day 1
- Lean Coffee with Janet Gregory and Alex Schladebeck
- Keynote : How to be an Effective Tester on an Agile Team with Paul Holland
- Buzzwords and Skills with Huib Schoots
- Unit Testing and TDD from the tester perspective, Alex Schladebeck
- Data Driven Decisions in Testing, Heather Reid
- Code Reading for Testers, Samuel Nitzsche
Attended Sessions Day 2
- Keynote : Visibility of Testers with Huib Schoots
- From Software Testing to Product Quality Engineering with Daniel Knott
- Underneath the (UI) Surface with Joao Proenca
I had to leave earlier on the second day back tome, so I sadly missed to 25-minute talk from Heather Reid about „The 11 Steps of my A11y Journey“, which sounded very interesting to me as this is also a very important topic in our company and I wanted to hear from Heather what she learned and what to expect and to exchange ideas. But I will contact Heither to follow up on this topic.
So what did I learn in those few days? A lot, and I will try to summarize the things which impressed me most or what I was able to take with me. I do plan to get into more detail in future postings about those topics.
- Relax, Keynote speakers and other experts also started with asking questions
- I am on a good way to grow my experience already, so I am doing well at the moment
- ISTQB is too much overrated and very old, but still used in companies, there are alternative certification paths and levels to reach better and have an international better understanding
- Not everything will be automated, there still needs to be manual and explatory testing.
- AI is not the solution, it is more a feature
- Ask questions – and if you done yet, start asking questions
- Network and broaden your existing contacts
The location Blackfoot Beach
Well, the location was great, something different to what I have been to. And it was thought quite well, that there were open tent areas, so at least fresh breeze and air was coming through. And also a great hint and tip for those of you who want to have some beach feeling when around Cologne: Blackfoot Beach.
The main stage had good sound and lighting installed (props to the event company!) and it was more Open Space or Barcamp-style and the nice possibility of walking around on the sand or just sit down where you wanted (if there was shade or those very rare moments when a few clouds hid the sun). 😀
Some criticism about the food
To be honest, not everything at the event was great, there are some things which I did not like and I hope those things can get approved and are seen as enhancement for the next time. I do know from my working background and earlier jobs how hard it is to organize an event like this and not all things work out perfect. But there is still room for feedback as I do not want to rate the event with 5 of 5 stars, more like 4 of 5, if that would be possible.
My criticism is not too much about the food, but more about how it was organised for maybe over 200 people. Well – the food was okay, but I had better food choices at barcamps with less costs. The catering company did not provide (only on the last day for lunch!) any information about what the food was, if it included specific kind of meat or to look after ingredients or if it was cooked or baked vegan. The food was prepared and installed in a tent (see below picture) and you might think that those two lines had a concept. No, sadly not.
On one side you entered the food track with main dishes, on the side where they offered a small variety of salad and vegetarian food – but you still had to mix at the end of the line with the other line to get other food from the buffet. That caused stress, not only for us attendees but also for the catering company, they also did a BBQ (which I must be honest for at least my food was great lamb and burgers). But the sauces weren’t really good – I noticed that at the end of the day when returning back to the hotel..
Maybe for the upcoming events either AgileTD orga will choose a different and better catering company or they have to update their food concept. I did hear and see on the days that some people weren’t happy as they did not get what they actually wanted or tried to get. On the second day they ran out of food and had to order pizza and pasta – the mood on events like this is really dependend on the food. Thanks to the other bars there was some kind of food (not for everyone though).
All together it was a nice and different conference and the possibility with the lake and beach definitely was a great thing within the week. It won’t be my last Agile TD conference, maybe in the next year even bring the child with us (if it fits in our habits or the venue provides something like child care or something similar). I have found and gathered great new contacts and look forward into the future of Agile TD conferences. And I even won a voucher to do an exam (more to this in an extra blogpost). 😆
There is a lot more I could have written (will do so for upcoming blogposts as mentioned above) and I did not want to keep this too long in draft mode.
Did you also attend and what are your thoughts about the Open Air Agile TD?
Do you want to comment my blogpost?
Please do so, I appreciate your time and thoughts. Thank you.