Weekend Testing Comes to the Americas

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Summary:
Inspired by the success of India’s Weekend Testing movement, Michael Larsen saw a need for a group closer to home. The Weekend Testing Americas chapter invites testers from across the Western Hemisphere to join an informal, distributed group of their tester peers to learn and perfect their craft.

Over the past couple of years, a trend has developed. Some testers have decided that, rather thafn slog through books and work on their own to learn about and perfect their testing craft, they will band together and make the goal of learning and improving software testing a group effort. This is most visible with the Weekend Testing movement . Weekend Testing is a grassroots effort that began in Bangalore, India, and is a meeting ground for many testers with various levels of experience.

Chapters developed in other parts of India (Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai) and also spread to Europe and Australia/New Zealand. I’ve attended a number of these sessions, both for the Europe and the Australia/New Zealand chapters. Since I live in the San Francisco metropolitan area, the European Weekend Testing sessions happen at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday mornings, and the Australian/New Zealand testing sessions take place at 10:30 p.m. Saturday evenings. India’s sessions take place at 3 a.m.! This makes attending their sessions challenging, but I often follow along with their experience reports and read the chat transcripts.

Going Local
As I attended these sessions, I kept asking myself, “Why isn’t there a chapter of Weekend Testing in the US? There’s a lot of testing talent here; it should be easy to get one of these chapters up and running.” I voiced this frustration a couple of months ago on my blog, and I received a rather blunt but totally true response: Weekend Testing hadn’t started in the US because no one—including me—had decided it was worth the time to start and maintain it.

This was a painful realization. I was waiting for someone else to start Weekend Testing so I could join in. As a lone tester in a small company, I didn’t think I had the background necessary to start it. But, this reply shook me out of my complacency. Canadian test consultant Lynn McKee also was receiving encouragement to start a Weekend Testing chapter for Canada. I decided to see if there would be support for championing an Americas chapter—not just for the US and Canada but for all countries in Western Hemisphere.

As it turned out, there was a lot of support. People were just waiting for those testers willing to make the first move. Tester Joe Harter joined the initiative, and the three of us applied to sponsor the Weekend Testing Americas chapter. We were given the ability to edit pages on the main Weekend Testing site to publish announcements and post experience reports and session transcripts. We also were given access to the bug-reporting system . Some of the experienced Weekend Testing moderators would oversee our early sessions to make sure they ran smoothly and that we could effectively moderate the flow of the sessions (Markus Gaertner and Ajay Balamurugadas both lended support). After that, we were free to fly on our own.

How It Works
We follow the framework that the Bangalore Weekend Testers originally developed. We announce the sessions about a week in advance via Twitter, blogs, and interested mailing lists and post the details of the session on the main Weekend Testing site. We utilize the same infrastructure for reporting issues used by Bangalore Weekend Testers, and we also publish our experience reports and chat sessions on the Weekend Testing site. When a session begins, we introduce attendees, announce a testing charter and a target application, and give testers the remainder of the first hour to test and communicate with other testers. Often, testers join in pairing sessions with other testers. At the end of the first hour, we bring

About the author

Michael Larsen's picture Michael Larsen

Michael Larsen is a Senior Quality Assurance Engineer with Socialtext in Palo Alto, California, USA. Over the past two decades, he has been involved in software testing for a range of products and industries, including network routers & switches, virtual machines, capacitance touch devices, video games, and client/server, distributed database & web applications.

Michael is a Black Belt in the Miagi-Do School of Software Testing, a founder and facilitator of the Americas chapter of Weekend Testing, Chair of the Education Special Interest Group with the Association for Software Testing (AST), a lead instructor of the Black Box Software Testing courses through AST, and curator of training materials for SummerQAmp. Michael writes the TESTHEAD blog (http://mkltesthead.com) and can be found on Twitter at @mkltesthead. A list of books, articles, papers, and presentations can be seen at http://www.linkedin.com/in/mkltesthead.

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