Friday, July 27, 2018

An Introduction to 2019 Organizers

We find ourselves well into the work towards the European Testing Conference 2019 edition, that will take place in Valencia, Spain on Feb 14-15th. Our Call for Collaboration is open until Aug 19th (give us a chance to get to know *you*), Early Bird Tickets are for sale and all sorts of usual conference buzz is going on.

Who are we then? Who are the people bringing you European Testing Conference 2019? We are all practitioners of software development and testing, running the conference for you as our side project to advance the state of art in testing!

Maaret Pyhäjärvi is a tester and polyglot programmer who recently moved into an Engineering Manager position. No matter the title or activity she works on, it's always about testing in some way. With 25 years of experience in testing and a deep drive to learn more about it, she is the co-founder of European Testing Conference with Adi Bolboaca. She continues to experiment with the conference organizing process with the team. She is in this for improving the world of conferences, and to build practical bridges to testing as we see it - from the perspective of different organizations and roles. She speaks at conferences and scouts for content that need sharing - as a way of connecting with new awesome people.

Franziska (Franzi) Sauerwein is a software crafter working as an Engineering Manager. They're the leading developer in the organizing group, holding up the flag of the areas of testing developers find fascinating. And we've learned so much of those! In addition to being an awesome developer, their focus on collaboration as crafter and understanding of the finer details of how people are included and made feel comfortable makes them a perfect bridge builder. They're active in the SoCraTes community and on the Software Crafters Slack. On top of being all around awesome, Franzi is also sharing lessons as a conference speaker.

Alina Ionescu has been organizing European Testing Conference since it's start and is the heart and mind behind all things visual. In addition to being a brilliant tester who lives and teaches technical testing back and forth, she has a special eye for making everything beautiful. The visuals she creates are wonderful and insightful, and the same happens when collaborating with her. Alina facilitates sessions with the local testing community in her home country Romania, and isn't afraid to step up and share as a speaker / facilitator.

Julia Duran is a second year organizer with a local presence in the country we're visiting in 2019, Spain. She's a test manager with a great vision of what testing is about, keen to always learn more. With this year's conference, it also turns out she is a superb organizer shining our way forward with all the local arrangements we need to learn on as we enter a new country.  With her help, we've learned to sort through new kinds of practices around inclusiveness.

Miroslava Nikolova volunteered for earlier conferences and made an impression as a thoughtful tester and test lead. Her ideas about what makes sense and what people can pick up are invaluable in the process of choosing the right talks for the 2019 edition. She actively brings in the voice of the community, reminds the rest of us on what people say would be of interest and elevates the conference organizing to a new level.

Abigail (Abby) Bangser is a quality consultant turning into a superb observability expert. Her enthusiasm of deep lessons we can share is infectious and she connects pieces of agile, testing and technology is an insightful way. We should have her return as a speaker, as she is awesome at that. But like others amongst the organizers, she has many sides to her and has a superpower of figuring out others and jumping into any task like a fish in the sea.

Marit van Dijk is a software developer with experience in test automation. Her drive for the craft is infectious, and she is making sure it gets distributed well. She's working with open source projects, Cucumber in particular. We are lucky to have her join the organizers team this year, and she's turned out to be the heart and brains of social media communications. While we're happy to organize a conference of our own, we love so much the stuff that others are creating and believe that everyone should have a chance of going to a good conference. Marit delivers that message brilliantly being one of the most connected people and sharing great content online.

We hope to see you at European Testing Conference 2019 in February. We're always up for a good discussion about testing and all things software. This conference comes from a team of practitioners to you - the practitioners. We hope you'll enjoy it as much as we enjoy making it shape.

**any mistakes in the above are sole responsibility of Maaret who decided to write the introductions of people she's delighted to work with on the conference.  

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Closing European Testing Conference 2018 season

European Testing Conference 2018 took place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands February 19-20th. With just a little over 200 participants, our third year was a both a networking/learning and financial success.

We're a non-profit conference out on a mission to change the world of conferences. This means a few things:
  • Our conference is on testing as different roles in software development overall know it. We love testers. We love developers. We love managers. We love product owners. And testing unites us all - we want to know the quality we are delivering, work on better ways towards feedback and figure out what mix of people would help each of us succeed. 
  • Our speakers are not paying to speak. We guarantee we pay their out of pocket expenses with travel and hotel. They are professionals in the industry, that deserve not only to not pay to speak, but in fact be paid to speak. To manage the risk, we pay our speakers with profit sharing model.
  • Our profits over the years are used to advance the speaker pool introducing underrepresented speakers. Financial reasons keep many great teachers local and with conferences not compensating for the travel, we want to figure out scholarships to support these people. With three years of European Testing Conference under our belt, we have supported three speakers by paying their travel for speaking. 
With 2018 edition of European Testing Conference profit-sharing, we pay:
  • 1917 euros for a keynote speaker (45 min - 5 shares)
  • 383 euros for a track speaker (30-40 min - 1 share)
  • 1534 euros for workshop facilitator (2 sessions, 1.5 hours each - 4 shares)
Every speaker gets paid. Including the few who did their first ever talk and worked hard on fine-tuning their delivery with their mentors support.

We believe this is what conferences need to budget for, and continue our mission to build a conference that gets to the long term target: paying keynotes 5000 euros and track speakers 1000 euros.

We believe great work needs to be paid for. We believe that each of the speakers has spent their lifetime becoming the people they are on stage, teaching us from their experiences and that time is valuable. And we know they spend a lot of effort building the message they deliver.

Our organizer team for 2018 consists of:
In addition, 2017 organizers Aki Salmi (Finland) and co-creator of European Testing Conference Adi Bolboaca (Romania) played a significant part. 

Our organizer team is volunteers and we don't get paid a salary. In fact, we are all working as manager, programmers and testers. Changing the world of conferences in a great company is something we do on the side. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

European Testing Conference Speaker Compensation Model

European Testing Conference 2018 takes place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands on Feb 19-20. We appreciate if you pass the word. 

European Testing Conference was built on the idea of changing the world of conferences. The vision has served us well, and we do many things differently. In particular, we experimentally seek ways of making speaker compensation more fair. People come to conferences for the great contents the speakers bring, and leave happy if in addition to the speakers they can learn from people in the hallways.

This shows in particular in the speaker compensation policy. We seek balance in organizer risk and speaker fairness by being strong on principle that speaking should not cost money, it should make money for the speakers.

We select our speakers by speaking to them and hearing them speak to us. The written abstracts are often not the best showcase for the stories and lessons we could have at conferences. When selected, we ask them to stay for the whole conference.

We guarantee what we consider minimum baseline compensation: a speaker should not have to pay to speak.  Each speaker (including those who are 2nd speakers in pair) gets:

  • Free entry to the conference and connected events
  • Travel + Accommodation (3 nights for 2 day conference) compensated, invoiced as they accrue, not after conference
  • Profit sharing, handing half of profits to speakers with a formula of weighing talks per type, keynote being 5 shares and a regular 30 minute talk being 1 share. 
We would love to fill the halls and allow relevant compensation for every single one of our speakers. So please, support our cause by joining - the program is awesome (even if we say so!). 

This is our third year, so you might be interested on how the experiment is going. We are learning that while speakers are the reason people come to the conference, it is not the reason people come to the conference. Marketing is the reason people come to the conference and it is hard. It is a little harder when the conference moves around. People come to conferences when they know about it and feel it is the right place for them to be. Still, even the marketing is about the speakers. 

First year, we made a profit that enabled us to pay 160 euros per share. 
Second year, we lost money on organizing the conference. But the conference was awesome, we loved the contents even more than first year, the retrospective showed participants loved it too and the atmosphere that the speakers created was unique. We believe two things contributed to the added specialty: the personal connection the new talk selection process created between speakers and organizers and a new session type of speed-meeting to connect in the conference so that no one is alone. 
We are on our third year, with a focus on marketing. People who succeed in marketing are awesome, and our appreciation for the hardness of this work increases day by day. And we love the learning it gives us. 

Organizers are not directly paid, but get shares just as speakers. Our rules from 2016 are:

  • A keynote speaker gets five shares. 
  • A regular session speaker gets one share. 
  • A workshop session gets 2 shares. 
  • And organizing for the whole year gets you 4 shares.
There's still the other half of the profits. We keep it to buffer for potential losses, and ease starting of a new year. When the buffer overflows, we pay underprivileged speakers of other conferences scholarships that cover the travel. Our buffer has not overflown (year on year, we have not earned anything but also not really lost anything, and we are many experiences richer) and we have paid two speakers travel + hotel expenses. We hope the 2018 edition enables more of that. 

And we hope all of this is temporary: conferences should stop making speakers Pay to Speak. Especially the commercially successful ones, even if there would be a non-profit organizer behind the conference. It's time to stop making money by ripping off speakers to help generate more revenue. It's time for the world of conferences to change. 

European Testing Conference 2018 takes place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands on Feb 19-20. We appreciate if you pass the word. 
If our schedules are not the perfect fit, take a look at any of the TestBashes (they are all awesome!), Agile Testing Days or Nordic Testing Days. All these conferences cover the minimum baseline compensation, and are just generally awesome. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Talk Titles

Let’s talk about talk titles…

Part 1. Importance
We have found that there are 3 key factors people use to choose which talks they attend during a conference.
  1. Name of presenter
  2. Competition
  3. Title


“Patrick Stewart is speaking in room 1. Cool I gotta check that out.”
Name is pretty much a on/off. Either the person knows you and likes you or doesn’t. Either way it’s out of your control. At least, it’s out of your immediate control. But if someone is famous, or at least ‘tech famous’. That is a huge factor in choosing a session.


“Your  speaking in room 2? Too bad, Patrick Stewart is in room 1 .”
Also out of your control is who is speaking at the same time as you. Often there is the problem of ‘Too many good talks at once’. In fact, we actively try to cultivate this problem :-)


“Hmm… intro to Cobol, 5 tips for Agile, Ignoring the Fish… Guess I’m going to 5 tips for Agile   ”
The last thing we choose on is title. This is the one thing a presenter has control over.

What about the description?

“Did you see the Talk about TDD?”
”What talk about TDD?!?”
Many people feel the description should be part of how people make decisions. Unfortunately that’s just not true. In fact many people don’t even read the description. Most make their choices the day of the conference. First looking at the overall schedule which doesn’t even include descriptions. Maybe if they are really having trouble deciding between 2 talks they will read those descriptions, but they still won’t read the other descriptions for the talks they have already discounted.

Part 2. Good Titles
Unfortunately, very few titles are good. Part of the problem is we have some really bad models  to follow when it come to titles.

Here’s an example:
“Stop Drawing Dead Fish” is an excellent talk by Bret Victor. If you know who Bret is, you might already be convinced of this (see part1: Name of presenter). Otherwise, you might trust me, or realize this talk has 80k views.
However, based on this title can you tell me if this is an excellent talk for you? Do you have any idea whatsoever about the topic?
I will say that the title makes perfect sense after you’ve seen the talk. Not that this will help to you choose to go to this session.

Worse, most movies and books and Tv  are also bad examples.
The Matrix, Lord of the Rings, The African Queen, Archer, Arrow, Firefly, Breaking Bad,  It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  

None of these titles make any sense without a lot of marketing to let people ‘in on the meaning’. One of my favorite shows, that I would recommend for anyone in Tech, is horribly named “Better off Ted”.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is such a poorly discoverable name, that fans that had read SIX books on Harry Potter and seen all the movies had no clue what it meant before they read the book. If it didn’t have the name “Harry Potter” in it;  probably no one would have known to read it.

1.Title need to be discoverable

Your title shouldn’t be clever, it’s shouldn’t be enticing, it should clear and discoverable. It should allow someone reading it to say “This is a topic that is important to me”. Rather than try to seduce people into your session, allow the right people to find you.

This can be tricky.
For example, here are 3 titles from a recent conference:
  1. EoS in Kafka
  2. Kotlin: Uncovered
  3. React Fundamentals Workshop

I would argue these are all the same type of title. However, while React is popular enough to be self explanatory, EoS in Kafka is basically nonsense to everyone. Kotlin is somewhere on the edge, many people haven’t heard about it, but enough have that it might be clear enough.  

2.Author’s are the Worst people to name their own talks.

The worst part is that being able to see if a title is “clear” or “nonsense” requires a bit of a beginners mind. You want to make sure that someone that has no idea what the talk is about can correctly guess the topic by title alone. The title needs to be clear to the people with the least knowledge about the talk, yet the person with the MOST knowledge is the one that usually picks the title. :-(

3.Techniques to pick a good title

My favorite technique to pick a title is to ask the audience right after the talk to write down what they think the title should have been. You’ll find that the vast majority write down the same thing. That should be the title. Unfortunately, this method is tricky because often we need a good title before we give the talk.

There is a  good Test for how good a title is.

  1. Show the title (only) to a person that knows nothing about the talk.
  2. Ask them what they think the talk is about?
  3. If it matches, it’s a good title, if not it isn’t.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Community Marketing Experiment

We have great content for the conference, and now we need to make sure the great content gets to amazing participants. The practical contents we've cooked up together with the speaker community can only teach you things if you participate. 

A few years back, we learned from the wonderful Helena Jeret-Mae that "Nothing happens when nothing happens". She had observed how her career turned more exciting as she started showing up at conferences. And we've learned that sometimes the best way to get change initiated is to have people in conferences teach the colleagues that won't listen to you. So you should join, and make sure your contacts get in too. 

Early Bird Tickets are available now until Nov 31st and you can get your ticket at 

We also want to announce a community marketing experiment. Many conferences hand out tickets in the background to communities for promotion, and we want to experiment making this available for normal people, not just community leaders. Our offer is this:
Find five people who would like to join our conference. We give you a discount code of 10% and when it is used five times, you get your ticket for free. 
If you believe you want to be here and would help us in getting the right people together for a great conference, get in touch for the code. You find us at

Monday, September 18, 2017

Announcing an Awesome Program

TL;DR: European Testing Conference 2018 in Amsterdam February 19-20. Be there! 

Two months of Skype calls with 120 people submitting to European Testing Conference 2018 in Amsterdam has now transformed into a program. We're delighted to announce people you get to hear from, and topics you get to learn in the 2018 conference edition! Each one of these have been hand-picked for practical applicability and diversity of topics and experiences in a process of pair-interview. Thank you for the awesome selection team of 2018: Maaret Pyhäjärvi, Franziska Sauerwein, Julia Duran and Llewellyn Falco.

We have four keynotes for you balancing testing as testers and programmers know it, cultivating cross-learning:

  • Gojko Adzic will share on Painless Visual Testing
  • Lanette Creamer teaches us on how to Test Like a Cat
  • Jessica Kerr gives the programmer perspective with Coding is the easy part - Software Development is Mostly Testing
  • Zeger van Hese Power of Doubt - Becoming a Software Sceptic
With practical lessons in mind, we reserve 90 minute sessions for the following hands-on workshops you get to choose to participate two, as we repeat the sessions twice during the conference:
  • Lisa Crispin and Abby Bangser teach on Pipelines as Products Path to Production
  • Seb Rose and Gaspar Nagy teach  on Writing Better BDD Scenarios
  • Amber Race teaches on Exploratory Testing of REST APIs
  • Vernon Richards teaches on Scripted and Non-Scripted Testing
  • Alina Ionescu and Camil Braden teach on Use of Docker Containers
While workshops get your hands into learning, demo talks give you a view into looking someone experienced in doing something you would want to mimic. We wanted to do three of these side by side, but added an organizer bonus talk on something we felt strongly on. Our selection of Demo talks is:
  • Alexandra Schladebeck lets you see Exploratory Testing in Action
  • Dan Gilkerson shows you how to use Glance in making your GUI test code simpler and cleaner
  • Matthew Butt shows how to Unit/Integration Test Things that Seem Hard to Test
  • Llewellyn Falco builds a bridge for more complicated test oracles sharing on Property-Based Testing
Each of our normal talks introduces an actionable idea you can take back to your work. Our selection of these is:
  • Lynoure Braakman shared on Test Driven Development with Art of Minimal Test
  • Lisi Hocke and Toyer Mamoojee share on Finding a Learning Partner in Borderless Test Community
  • Desmond Delissen shares on a growth story of Two Rounds of Test Automation Frameworks
  • Linda Roy shares on API Testing Heuristics to teach Developers Better Testing
  • Pooja Shah introduces Building Alice, a Chat Bot and a Test Team mate
  • Amit Wertheimer teaches Structure of Test Automation Beyond just Page-Objects
  • Emily Bache shares on Testing on a Microservices Architecture
  • Ron Werner gets you into Mobile Crowdsourcing Experience
  • Mirjana Kolarov shares on Monitoring in Production 
  • Maaret Pyhäjärvi teaches How to Test A Text Field
In addition to all this, there's three collaborative sessions where everyone is a speaker. First there's a Speed Meet, where you  get to pick up topics of interest from others in fast rotation and make connections already before the first lunch. Later, there is a Lean Coffee which gives you a chance for deep discussions on testing and development topics of interest to the group you're discussing with. Finally, there's an Open Space where literally everyone can be a speaker, and bring out the topics and sessions we did not include in the program or where you want to deepen your understanding.

European Testing Conference is different. Don't miss out on the experience. Get your tickets now from 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Content Creation Process 2018 is on its way!

European Testing Conference 2018 takes place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands on February 19-20th 2018. Check also our web pages

European Testing Conference does its content creation a bit differently. While other conferences call for proposals, we call for collaboration. We want to meet the people delivering the talk, have a conversation on what the talk is about. After all, the talk isn't the writing, but it's what you say on stage. 

We seek a balance of testing and quality topics as testers and developers know it, with a practical emphasis. 

Call for collaboration - what is it?

When you submit for European Testing Conference, it is just an opening connection for us to have an online face-to-face discussion with you. For the 2018 edition, the organizers pair more heavily than before, meaning you get to have a friendly chat with two of us.

We know we have limited space, and a vision of how we would most likely want to fill that space. We learn as we work with people, and our vision adapts. We seek the best content for our participants. But not only that.

When we collaborate, we might learn ways for us to help you forward with other conferences you might not have known of. We might give you hints on how to improve your submission. And at minimum, we get a chance of forming a connection between you and us, and we appreciate your time. 

Have you submitted already? Let us get to know you. Deadline is August 20th. 

A Community Marketing Experiment