About Bret Pettichord

QA Manager at Convio, Inc. Director and co-founder of the Watir project. Co-author of "Lessons Learned in Software Testing."

Watir Bazaar was Kick Ass!

I’ve been regularly hosting small conferences for over a decade, starting with the LAWST format and slowly evolving over the years. I just finished hosting the Watir Bazaar. I feel real good about it. One of the best conferences I’ve ever been to. Really excited: everyone had a good time, learned a lot, met a lot of new people, and shared stories about how people are really using Watir to kick ass.

We are wrapping up a release of Watir 4.0, which now uses Selenium technology called WebDriver to drive browsers. That means that Watir 4.0 will work with any browser that Selenium supports. Automatically. This is exciting. Equally exciting is the enthusiasm the community is showing for providing examples and showing others how you can make a testing framework for your application.

We will be documenting several approaches, including using TestUnit, Rspec and Cucumber, each of which has contexts where they become the preferred choices of the community.

Most of us are using page objects of one kind or another with a lot of success, to the point where we really think that everyone should know how to use them, and are working to share our ideas for how to create page objects no matter what kind of test harness you are using.

Speakers at the Test Automation Bazaar

In less than three weeks, the Watir team will be assembling in Austin Texas to kick off our first Watir Conference and Test Automation Bazaar. This event is pulling together Watir users and other Ruby lovers to share techniques and create better tools for automating testing.

Watir team members who are confirmed to attend:

  • Bret Pettichord, Austin
  • Hugh McGowan, Austin
  • Alister Scott, Australia
  • Željko Filipin, Croatia
  • Chuck van der Linden, Seattle
  • Tiffany Fodor, Denver
  • Charley Baker, Denver
  • Jari Bakken, Norway

We also have attendees registering from all over the world, including Hong Kong, London, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, California, Ontario.

I’m still talking to lots of people about speaking at the conference. Here is a partial list of people lined up to speak and some of this still needs to be confirmed. (Put on the wiki)

Watir Team

  • Migrating from Watir to Webdriver – Hugh
  • Webdriver Internals – Jari
  • Watir, Selenium and Capybara; and Specification by Example: a Love Story – Alister

Experience Reports

  • Hugh McGowan & the Convio team – Introducing WatirMark at Convio. WatirMark is an MVC testing framework that supports Cucumber and Rspec. This is result of several years of major refactoring, recently released as open-source.
  • Bob Jones, How a Ruby Framework for testing services was expanded to make use of the cloud.
  • Zeljko Filipin – Using Sikuli with Watir Webdriver
  • Chris McMahon – Lessons Learned from Fitnesse; a keyword and wiki based testing framework
  • Bramha Ghosh and Andy Vida – Specification by Example at Grange Insurance
  • Tan Le - Building an Automated Test Framework using Cucumber, Capybara and Gizmo.

Discussions

  • Managing Test Automation – Opened by Rick Hower
  • Sleeps are Evil – Opened by Bret Pettichord
  • Ruby Automated Testing Landscape – Opened by Alister Scott
  • Levels of Quality – Opened by Marek Jay
  • Exploratory Testing with IRB – Opened by Dave McNulla
  • Watir Book and Watir Documentation – Opened by Zeljko Filipin

Charity Workshops

In addition, workshops are being hosted separately on Thursday March 22nd. Alister Scott, Željko Filipin and Chuck van der Linden will be holding a hands-on tutorial on Watir Webdriver; and Cheezy Morgan and Jari Bakken will be holding an advanced workshop on Page Objects. I’m really looking forward to attending these workshops, as well as sending my staff. The registration for these will be separate from the Bazaar, so don’t forget to sign up for this too.

Registration

Join us at the Test Automation Bazaar

On March 23rd and 24th (Friday and Saturday), the Watir Conference and Test Automation Bazaar will be held in Austin, Texas. I am hosting this event with Alister Scott, Hugh McGowan and as much of the Watir Team as we can get to Austin. This conference is for the Watir Community and any one who wants to learn more about how people are successfully automating testing. As Watir users are turning to using Selenium’s Webdriver technology, the focus is less on the traditional Watir/IE core and more on using what works, whether that be Watir, Selenium, Capybara or whatever. It’s not even necessarily about web-testing. We are, however, mostly looking for solutions in Ruby and Ruby will be the official language of the conference. We are looking for people to join us and help us make this the best place in the world to learn about effective automated testing. Because we are taking this broad focus, we are calling this a Test Automation Bazaar.

We will follow this schedule on both days:

 9:00 - 12:00    Presentations with moderated discussions
12:00 -  1:00    Lunch
 1:00 -  2:00    Lightning Talks
 2:00 -  4:30    Open Space
 4:30 -  5:00    Group Circle

Therefore we are looking for people who would like to give short, focussed presentations of 10–20 minutes each for the mornings. These will be followed by 5–20 minutes of moderated discussion. The actual time will be determined by the moderators based on the interest level of the audience. We are also looking for 5 minute lightning talks. The morning program and the lightning talks will be single-track, so they will be tightly facilitated. The open space in the afternoon will be multi-tracked and will provide an opportunity for breakout groups, coding demonstrations, and impromptu collaborations. If you have ideas of things you would like to present please contact Alister Scott and me with your ideas. We want to have lots of short presentations from lots of different people.

For some, this may be an unusual format, but it is based on years of experience organizing small conferences. The morning program is based on the LAWST format that we have used in the AWTA workshops and comes from the Context-Driven Testing community. Lightning talks come from the open-source community. And Open Space has been popular in Agile circles. People don’t learn from long lectures, so we are trying to make this as interactive as possible.

If this sounds like fun, please join our mailing list (where we are organizing the conference) and buy a ticket. I am asking everyone who plans to attend to buy a ticket, whether you are host or a speaker or a volunteer. I’ve already bought mine. We don’t have event staff, so we will need lots of help. This is a conference by and for the Watir community.

The conference’s primary financial purpose is to fund the travel expenses to allow the Watir Team to all meet face-to-face. Our team is distributed around the world, so this isn’t easy or cheap. This goal is consistent with membership in the Software Freedom Conservancy a non-profit umbrella group that we are in the process of applying to join. In order to help with this, we are asking everyone attending to buy a ticket, so our overseas contributors can make their plans.

Right now we are offering a limited number of “Early Bird Volunteer” tickets. This includes organizers, speakers, volunteers. We have already started accepting proposals, but will not be selecting “speakers” until very late in the process. We want to work with presenters to help them with their talks and will probably be arranging the program up until the last minute. This is how we have always done it with the Lawst format. Recently I realized that this really amounts to using the Fieldstone writing method to conference planning. So if you have made a proposal and are discussing it with us, please go ahead and consider yourself eligible for the volunteer ticket. We need help with facilitation, particularly from people with experience with the Lawst, Lightning or Open Space formats. We are also looking for people to blog and tweet and video record the event so that the people who can’t make it can benefit. We are also are trying to organize charity workshops for March 22. Maybe you can help with that. Please join our mailing list, where we have been discussing volunteer needs. We also consider any one who has been contributing to the Watir project, answering questions, blogging about what they’ve been doing, to be volunteers. Being a volunteer is as much a state of mind, a willingness to pitch in and help others, rather than just watch the world go by. Buy your ticket today.

Test Automation Conference in Austin in March 2012

From Austin

We are planning a test automation conference in Austin in February March 23-24.

  • Thursday: Pre-conference Workshops
  • Friday Morning: General Assembly – Single Track
  • Friday Afternoon: Working Groups – Open Space
  • Saturday Morning: General Assembly – Single Track
  • Saturday Afternoon: Working Groups – Open Space
  • Sunday Morning: Final Assembly
  • Sunday Afternoon: Coffeshops and Biking

Organizers:

  • Alister Scott, Australia
  • Bret Pettichord, Austin
  • Charley Baker, Denver
  • Tiffany Fodor, Denver
  • Marek J, Austin (relocated from Poland via Dallas and Seattle)
  • Hugh McGowan, Austin
  • Jim Matthews, Austin
  • Carl Schaulis, Austin
  • Mark Anderson, Austin
  • Mike Canzoneri, Costa Rica

Details:

  • Open source test automation workshop – not Watir specific – but primarily focused on Watir/WebDriver
  • Specification by Example a key theme
  • Limited to 100 attendees
  • Fairly cheap entry
  • Feb 2012
  • In Austin, which is a great place to be in February
  • Sponsors similar to Watir Day
  • Interesting varied workshop with hands on demos, presentations, challenges and competitions, including a Watir vs. Selenium cage match.

Love to hear your thoughts about this.

A Ninja Strike to the Brain

Last month, I gave a keynote address at the Selenium conference, and the video has just been posted to Youtube. The talk is about many things, including the persistent attraction of test recorders even though no one ever really believes in them. Although I used to speak at conferences a lot, I haven’t done much for the last several years, and this is really my first talk on Youtube. So I am interested in seeing what kind of reception it gets from people who weren’t at the conference.

I feel like it may be the best talk I’ve ever given, but I’m not sure how well it plays out of context. In it, I make several references to earlier talks at the conference, and in particular the keynotes by Jason Huggins and Patrick Lightbody. When I say it was my best, what I mean is that I don’t think I’ve ever captured the attention of the audience the way I did this time. But the video doesn’t capture the audience reaction so you can’t see that. There were also some great questions at the end, but those got edited out too.

To add some context, here are excerpts from the twitter livestream during the talk, with emphasis on tweets that were retweeted the most:

Update

The talk is now also available as a podcast.

Watir and Selenium in San Francisco

I’ve been back home for a week after a very busy week in San Francisco. I hosted a one-day Watir conference and then attended a three-day Selenium conference where I gave a keynote talk. After the conference was over we parked our car in a sketchy part of town for dinner, and me and three others had our laptops stolen out of our rental van. Some one broke the window and snatched our bags.. I also spent a day in Convio’s Berkeley office where I got a chance to catch up with several of my colleagues there. This week I’ve been catching up on my day job and replacing the things that were stolen.

There has been increasing cooperation between the Watir and Selenium teams, both on our projects and in organizing the conferences. Although we sold our own tickets to Watir Day (Sunday), the Selenium conference team made the hotel arrangements for us (both conferences were at the same hotel); and in the end, ended up subsidizing some of our costs. They also wanted to make sure that some one from the Watir team was on the Selenium conference committee. Charley Baker was generous to volunteer to help them select talks for the program. And of course, they invited me to keynote the Selenium conference. That talk should show up on Youtube at some point. I’ll talk more about the points I made in my keynote some other day.

We had about 60 people for the Watir Day and some 250 for the Selenium Conference. Both events were sold out. They did a lot more promotion for the Selenium conference that we did, and ended up with a waiting list of a 100 people, many of whom were waiting for multiple tickets. They are planning to have a much larger event next year. We’ve also been talking about folding the Watir event into the Selenium conference, something that actually sounds very attractive to me. I forsee having a one-day Watir track and then having a track on the second day that would focus on topics like Cucumber and Jenkins (nee Hudson) that would appeal equally to Selenium and Watir users. I see a lot of benefits to pulling our communities more closely together. For example, the conferences had several talks on Page Objects, but I thought the best was during the Watir day, and that Selenium users would have benefitted from the chance to see it.

I have a whole lot more I’d like to talk about, but am going to post this now. I do need to give my thanks to Alister Scott who’s help was invaluable for getting the Watir Day organized and Ashley Wilson who ran the Selenium conference and was a big help for the Watir Day too.

Watir team is all over the world

A couple of years ago, Zeljko Filipin was trying to get me to start a Watir podcast. He was telling me how to do it and why it is so important. I asked him why he didn’t he do it himself? He said he didn’t speak good enough English. Nonsense. At that time I had never met Zeljko but had spoken with him over Skype several times.

Zeljko speaks Global English, whereas I speak American English. I told Zeljko that English is a second language for most Watir users, so his dialect, which is a simplified version that is known around world, would actually be more suitable for a podcast than mine. I agreed to do the first podcast, and from there Zeljko hasn’t stopped.

Watir developers come from all over the world as well. We last met in Austin in 2009. We are making plans to meet in April in San Francisco and I am looking into making a trip to Europe this summer to meet Watir developers and users there.

I got to meet Zeljko for the first time in the Austin meeting. He also got to record several podcasts with other attendees. Zeljko traveled from his home in Zagreb, Croatia, and paid for his own travel. So did other watir developers, travelling from as far as Australia and Norway.

Face-to-face meetings like this are critical to the ongoing collaboration. We first met members of the OperaWatir team then too, resulting in the recent release of OperaWatir to the general public.

We regularly communicate using email, IRC, and skype, but there is nothing like an occasional face-to-face meeting to develop personal connections and trust.

Your contributions to the Watir project will help defray the travel costs that the Watir development team incur to meet each other. We are planning a separate Watir day the Selenium Conference. We were just quoted $450 for a room for one day. Many of our overseas contributors have already booked their tickets. Your contribution today will help let us know that you want this to happen. You can click the Donate button on this page to pay with PayPal (via Pledgie). If you would like to make a contribution in another way, please send me email (bret at pettichord.com).