I enjoyed my visit to Eurostar last year, and this year’s conference in Copenhagen was a very good experience too! It is always great to witness the passion around testing and quality in Europe, and the Copenhagen show was pretty cool! There were about 50 exhibitors at the Expo, and over 900 attendees. All of the familiar players were of course there – HP, IBM, and Oracle had elaborate booths! There were five vendors talking about Web performance and Load testing tools, and three vendors were focusing on developer tools, and another one presenting Model based testing. It was interesting, however, to note that more than half the exhibitors were Testing Service providers. Sogeti of course was there, and the Indian Global SI’s were well represented too – with Cognizant (one of the main sponsors of the event this year), TCS (Tata Consultancy Services), and L&T Infotech having a very prominent presence. The presence of TCS – the largest GSI in India – was surprise to some – this will serve notice to all, and the competition is sure to raise the quality of service offering!

The exhibition floor was well spread out, and Microsoft had an excellent booth location this time!

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I found the Microsoft Testing tools (Visual Studio Test Professional 2010) still to be one of the most innovative Winking smile - the level of collaboration that it brings about between developers, testers, and business analysts of course still being a great differentiator. I remember, last year in Stockholm, there was not much awareness around our testing tools at all – no one was expecting Microsoft to be in the testing industry. This year the awareness was much better – there were many who had heard and used the tool and were now back in our booth to hear about more details and deeper concepts. I had several team members with me – Mathew Aniyan and Darshan Desai joined my from India, Jan Willem Van Buren from the Netherlands, and Charlotte Pullich represented Microsoft Denmark. Mathew did a great job creating a pretty detailed presentation and live demos to showcase “A Day in the Life of an Agile Team”. I had a great time presenting these to end users and several customers in Copenhagen. Demonstrating the key features of Test and Lab Management live from my laptop was very gratifying – there was so much to talk about and show, and the following scenarios were quite popular and drew warm appreciation from the customers:

  • Ellen, the generalist tester, verifying a bug that was fixed by a developer – the efficiency, power, and simplicity of
    • Up-to-date virtual test environments, with the daily build deployed and ready for testing
    • A list of recommended tests that leads her to the few key areas to focus based on what had changed from the build she had
    • Fast forward for manual testing – which enables us to easily verify that the bug is indeed fixed
  • Serge, the specialist tester, automating a test case for the regression suite.
    • The ability to take one of the test runs that Ellen had already done and translate that to code with a few clicks was powerful
    • (The code too is just .NET code and nothing new and complex – just the way the developer likes it)
    • Adding the validations quite simply
    • And, all appreciated how easy it was to play back the automated test on multiple browsers (IE and Firefox)!
  • Ellen performing an Exploratory testing session
    • She files rich bugs – which has a lot of actionable information attached to it automatically (her devs are going to love her)
    • She actually has the ability to create test cases from the interesting defects she finds, just with a few clicks
  • Ellen finishing up her day by authoring new tests – using shared step sets to represent commonly used test cases that she and others can reuse later.
  • Elvis, the developer, fixing one of Ellen’s rich bug – this is always popular, even in a conference for testers
    • The IntelliTrace feature that allows Elvis to re-create a debugging session in Visual Studio directly from the bug (although of course the application is not even running any more), and the ability to observe the exceptions and events, and directly hone into the area of code which has the defect is very powerful indeed!
  • Not to forget about Angie, the product owner, who has full visibility into the project
    • The Sharepoint dashboards showing the burdown, quality, bugs, test state, progress, and plans is very useful
    • The live and up-to-date information in the portals allow her, Ellen, and others in the team to take effective action to address issues

I did not get a chance to attend Mathew’s session in the lab track – but sat in on Darshan’s talk on “Virtual Test Labs: The Next Frontier”.

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Darshan was excellent in this session! When the track chair asked the audience about how much passion (the theme of this year’s conference) Darshan demonstrated, he got a resounding round of applause from the well attended conference room. I particularly liked the part where he shared some best practices around snapshots, cloning virtual environments, and managing VMs. The talk was obviously very popular, as many attendees came back to look for Darshan later, and in the following day too, to learn more from him about advanced concepts they were trying to adopt. It was great to see a team member take the role of an Industry expert!

As it usually happens, the exhibitors had several interesting activities and giveaways at their booths to draw in the audience. There was a 3-hole Golf attraction, a game of black jack, as well as interesting and popular drawings for giveaways like the iPad! Exhibitors in some big and well positioned booths were quite lonely as they had forgotten to add an element of fun in there. We didn’t have any such problems at the Microsoft booth – as Charlotte and Jan Willem – had arranged for a giveaway of the Kinect and XBOX 360 in each of the three days of the conference! How cool is this product from Microsoft? Check out the video if you haven’t seen this coolness yet! The audience at the floor were simply wowed – and we, by far, had the largest crowd on the floor before each drawing, and there was a proud winner each day!

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In the last day, the crowd for the Kinect draw was unbelievably large – we couldn’t resist the temptation of talking to the truly “captive audience” one last time about the Test Professional 2010 product! It was Darshan’s idea, Mathew whipped out the demos, and I did a 90-second “keynote” about the power of Ellen filing actionable bugs leading to no more no-repro bugs! It was fun!

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(Back at home, we are getting our Kinect delivered today – and I am looking forward to an invigorating afternoon with the family)!

There were more than 60 talks during the conference too – several of them very interesting! I found @dinopatti ‘s case study on Playdead – an XBOX game called Limbo, quite fascinating. Limbo has gotten several awards for it’s minimalistic design (all in shades of grey) and challenging gameplay. Dino was quite masterful in his story telling! A concept and a statement he made stuck him my mind – and it will be worth exploring.

  • Dino introduced the concept of “Tissue Testers”. Testers who test a game only once – so they are not biased with their experience the second time around. The primary testing for Limbo was done by about 150 “tissue” testers. Quite fascinating!
  • Dino also made an interesting statement about their usability testing sessions – he said, “we were interested in observing the users -not getting input from them. After all we know the direction”.  A pretty bold and confident statement – I liked it!

I must also mention that it was fun to meet old friends and @misssogeti - Therese Sinter at the Sogeti booth, and once again Sogeti hosted a nice dinner for customers and partners. I enjoyed some great conversations – both business and non-business – that evening in a beautiful restaurant. It was interesting to see the famous “Artichoke Lamp” in view in the restaurant – I understand this is a famous creation by Poul Henningsen that people in Denmark are quite proud of!

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This was my first visit to Copenhagen and Denmark, and my wife had reminded me not to miss an opportunity to check out the Little Mermaid. I did make a quick detour to work one day and did meet with her!

 

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She is just about a meter tall, and I wasn’t sure why she was so famous! It was interesting to know though that she and I share the same birthday, and it was fun to read more about here after I came back.

Copenhagen is a beautiful city, but it was awfully cold (and unseasonably so) during this trip. The Microsoft Marketing and Field office was nice and the view from there (including of the sea) was quite beautiful!

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There was snow everywhere, but on a sunny Wednesday, the city and sights were pristine and gorgeous.

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The Tivoli amusement park was absolutely a treat to visit – beautiful, but it was bitter cold, and I could hardly stand outside!

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As I got into a cab that night, after a short stretch of walk in the open, I remember I felt almost frozen with cold. “How awfully cold it is” I blurted out as I settled in. The taxi driver immediately swung the heat dial to the maximum, and opened up the vents at the back to fullest – and in thirty seconds I felt uncomfortably warm. I asked the driver to reduce the heat and he looked back at me and said – “Sir, you were complaining about the climate in my country”. I felt amused – but appreciated the pride and passion he demonstrated about his own land!

Well then – another successful Eurostar visit is over. The next one is in Manchester from Nov 21-24. I look forward to visiting again.

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Here’s wishing all of you a Very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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