STAREAST 2015 Interview with Bart Knaack and Paul Carvalho from the Test Lab

[interview]

Bart Knaack and Paul Carvalho discuss the Test Lab at STAREAST. Look for more keynotes, sessions, and interviews at this year’s STARWEST conference in Anaheim.

Summary:

In this interview, Bart Knaack and Paul Carvalho discuss the tester's sandbox known as the The Test Lab. They explain how and why they're doing real testing at a conference about testing, and share some of their results.

Jennifer Bonine: All right. We are back live with more of our tool interviews for those of you who are watching out there. I'm sure you're all interested in who these two gentlemen are who joined me. I've got Bart and I've got Paul, and they have these lab coats on. I'm told that they're from our Test Lab that's going on here at the conference. So, for those folks not here that are watching but aren't participating in that, can you tell me a little bit about what the Test Lab is?

Bart Knaack: The Test Lab, actually, is your tester sandbox. It's a place where people can come to learn about testing by doing it, not by hearing about it, but by actually doing it. We have systems here to test. We have our small, little robots which people can play around with. They can learn about ... Well, actually looking at requirements and seeing if the requirements fit the behavioral thought. We have some funny noises in there so people can draw attention. Actually, we had a number of people coming in. It's interesting to see what strategies people use to actually test.

Jennifer Bonine: Right. What are you guys seeing in terms of, how do you draw people in? Does everyone understand what is going on in the Test Lab? Do they kind of just walk by and look, or how do you actually get them in?

Paul Carvalho: That's usually one of the first questions, like, "What are you selling?" We're not a booth. Sometimes it's the noise-makers that attract them. "What's the chicken for?" "I don't know. What do you want it to be for?" Sometimes when people find a bug or something, they want to celebrate it, so we have various noise makers.

Jennifer Bonine: So they can celebrate.

Paul Carvalho: Yes. It's like Bart explained, it's a sandbox. It's a play space. We have a little something for a lot of different types. Some people go straight for the laptops, and they want to play with the software or the applications that are on there. Some people are attracted to the robots, like, "Ooh, a physical thing." Getting away from just software only. This is software and hardware. How does it interact with the environment and other conditions? We have some other tester games like puzzles and brain teasers. For people who are just walking by, there'll be a little something for everyone, kind of thing.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah. To get them engaged and involved. There's something different this year, I thought, right? You guys have an organization that you're working with in terms of some of the testing?

Paul Carvalho: That was the theory.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah. That was the theory, so, ideally, we want to do that.

Paul Carvalho: We adapt to change in plans. Yes.

Jennifer Bonine: You're agile.

Paul Carvalho: The Humanitarian Toolbox, the crisis-checking application, we had started to test it last year. We provided a lot of great feedback. Over the summer they updated the application, and we had 2.0 ready to go, and then Bart noticed it first on Tuesday and said, "Let's just log in and make sure that we can get it," and it crashes.

Jennifer Bonine: Oh, no.

Paul Carvalho: The guys have been trying to fix the environment, but we haven't been able to get it running this time around, so it's unfortunate, but it's just the nature of software sometimes.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah. Exactly. It's what happens, right? That can happen. But in terms of folks that are out there that haven't been to the conferences, is the Test Lab part of the conferences all the time? If they were to say, "I want to come to STARWEST in the fall," will they see you guys?

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