StarEast 2017 just started—with over 100 sessions, tutorials, trainings, and other learning opportunities for software testing and QA professionals. For those that didn’t make it to Orlando, there’s even a (free) 2-day Virtual Conference featuring advice and best practices from Fidelity Investments, Sprint, The Guardian, and more.

At peak times, there are as many as 10 sessions packed into a one-hour slot. Unless you’ve figured out how to use simulation technologies to clone yourself, you’ll be forced to make some tough choices. To help you decide, we reviewed the jam-packed schedule and selected a few  DevOps, Agile, and Continuous Testing-themed sessions that our readers and customers won’t want to miss…

What Really Happens When You Deliver Software Quickly

Sally Goble (@sallygoble)

The current trend in testing is to move away from traditional manual testing and toward test automation. To keep up with the rapid pace of continuous delivery today, test teams are urgently reskilling and reshaping themselves. Sally Goble shares her experience of what happened to the test team at the Guardian when the engineering team began the process of delivering software fast and at will—deploying software up to 400 times a day.

Sally shares why her team reevaluated the role of testing in the software development cycle, what prompted the Guardian’s controversial decision to abandon conventional test automation, and how they started to step back from manual testing as well. Sally explains what her team does to mitigate the risk of this radical approach. She examines the benefits that teams can realize from these changes and how other organizations can adopt this approach. Sally discusses what the QA team at the Guardian does now that they are not preoccupied with testing—from the tools they build to the processes they have re-imagined—and the benefits that these changes can have on the organization.

Agile Testing at Scale

Mary Thorn (@InsideIpreo)

Over the past twenty years, Mary Thorn has had the opportunity to work at many startups, creating several QA/test departments from scratch. For the past ten years, she has done this in agile software companies. Recently Mary moved from leading small agile test organizations to leading a large agile test organization. She has learned how to lead agile testers and agile testing in large contexts.

Mary takes you through what she has learned, identifies the keys to transitioning your test organization as it grows, and discusses the techniques required to lead it through the changes. Agile testing is difficult, and training your testers to be consistent and interchangeable across large scale agile teams is even more difficult. And still more difficult is test automation at scale. Mary shares her experience in creating an automation strategy that works in a large scale context. Join Mary as she discusses her learnings from leading large agile test organizations.

Rediscover Exploratory Testing

Ingo Philipp (@Tricentis)

The testing community is caught between the devil and the deep blue sea when it comes to exploratory testing. Although exploratory testing has been around for ages, it often leads to more confusion than clarity. Is exploratory testing an activity—something that you do? Or is it an approach—a way or a style of doing something? Isn’t all testing exploratory? When do you do it? How do you do it properly? How does it relate to the entire software lifecycle?

To answer these questions, Ingo Philipp outlines the most common confusions and controversies on this topic. He explains what exploratory testing is, why to use it, and when to practice it. Ingo discusses specific heuristics and techniques of exploratory testing, especially useful in fast-paced development environments, to get the most out of exploratory testing in your daily work. Bring your curiosity and a good sense of adventure to learn that exploratory testing is not just error guessing or common bug hunting but rather is at the heart of all things testing. Join this hands-on, interactive session to learn how to use this highly productive approach to put the adventure and effectiveness back into your testing.

The DevOps Challenge: Now Is the Time to Be a Champion of Quality

Lisa Dronzek (@vokeinc)

Software failures continue to make news headlines daily. Yet all the industry hype we hear is about DevOps, a set of practices that seems to exclude quality and testers. Does quality matter? Will it become part of the equation? We must take notice of exclusionary movements and become champions of quality.

Lisa Dronzek shares voke’s DevOps survey data to provide insight about the realities and unintended consequences of this movement. Whether you are all-in or just feeling left out, join Lisa to explore DevOps—its challenges and its risks. Lisa explains why and how testers need to become IT superheroes to highlight the value of testing. She shares the actions that leaders, managers, automation experts, and manual testers must take. Learn how to identify your unique strengths to become an agent of change, a technology champion, or a customer advocate to show the value of testing in your organization. Change the conversation, and become a quality champion today!

Agile Testing: Team Tactics that Deliver the Goods

Bob Galen (@bobgalen), Mary Thorn (@InsideIpreo)

Let’s face it—agile testing is different. Challenges exist in successfully integrating within the teams themselves. Scrummerfall continues to run rampant. The dichotomy of testing v. quality and balancing both the team’s and your focus still exists. Delivering value is both an imperative and a challenge.

In this dynamic workshop, join agile coaches Mary Thorn and Bob Galen to explore the tools, techniques, and mindset you need to bring to the table to successfully test in agile contexts. Mary and Bob examine risk-based testing, iterative test planning, exploratory testing, agile automation strategies, test metrics, and test artifacts. They explain the Agile Release Train in agile at-scale frameworks and the implications to your testing iterations and planning. Mary and Bob wrap up with a solid overview of user stories, acceptance test-driven development, and behavior-driven development. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all testing techniques. Learn about the adaptive and context-based tools you can add to your agile testing toolbox so your team can deliver the goods.

Lightning Strikes the Keynotes

Hosted by Lee Copeland (@grandpacopeland)

Throughout the years, Lightning Talks have been a popular part of the STAR conferences. If you’re not familiar with the concept, Lightning Talks consists of a series of five-minute talks by different speakers within one presentation period. Lightning Talks are the opportunity for speakers to deliver their single biggest bang-for-the-buck idea in a rapid-fire presentation. And now, lightning has struck the STAR keynotes. Some of the best-known experts in testing will step up to the podium and give you their best shot of lightning. Get multiple keynote presentations for the price of one—and have some fun at the same time.

Why is Everyone Talking About the Future of Testing?

Gerd Weishaar (@Tricentis)

Over the past two years, the vast majority of industry experts have felt compelled to provide their perspective on “the future of testing.” This is unprecedented. Something must have fundamentally changed to generate so much buzz…what is it?

Although some claim that these fundamental industry shifts spell the death of “testing,” we believe they open an opportunity to elevate the role of the tester. This session explores the perfect storm currently disrupting testing, how it is already impacting testers across the industry, and how the role of testing and testers can evolve from a providing “hygiene” service to a becoming business-critical protector of the user experience. We’ll cover what changes are needed to drive this transformation—from IT leaders as well as within the QA organization.

A Rapid Introduction to Rapid Software Testing

Michael Bolton (@michaelbolton)

You’re under tight time pressure with barely enough information to proceed with testing. How do you test quickly and inexpensively—yet still produce informative, credible, and accountable results? Rapid Software Testing, adopted by context-driven testers worldwide, offers a field-proven answer to this all-too-common dilemma.

In this one-day sampler of the approach, Michael Bolton introduces you to the skills and practice of Rapid Software Testing through stories, discussions, and “minds-on” exercises that simulate important aspects of real testing problems. The rapid approach isn’t just testing with speed or a sense of urgency, it’s mission-focused testing that eliminates unnecessary work, assures that the most important things get done, and constantly asks how testers can help speed up the successful completion of the project. Join Michael to learn how Rapid Software Testing focuses on both the mindset and skill set of the individual tester, using tight loops of exploration and critical thinking skills to help continuously re-optimize testing to match clients’ needs and expectations.

Deliver Enterprise Quality in an Agile and DevOps World

Jacob Ukelson (@JacobUkelson)

Enterprises are adopting agile and DevOps methodologies because they focus on minimizing the latency of software delivery and the distance between “aha” and “ka-ching.” Jacob Ukelson says that judicious adoption of these methodologies can increase both velocity and quality, but inappropriate adoption can be disastrous—from an end-to-end quality perspective.

Agile’s focus on iterative development and user involvement already has affected testing by increasing the emphasis on testing by developers themselves, component test automation, and by embedding testers in agile teams. DevOps’ focus on increasing the velocity of application provisioning, deployment, and configuration will cause yet another shift in testing. Done correctly, DevOps enables efficient and effective environment-based testing that is especially valuable for end-to-end quality (especially validation). Join Jacob to see how agile and DevOps can be used not only to increase delivery velocity but also to increase end-to-end quality. Take away a framework for agile and DevOps adoption that lowers adoption risk and ensures quality is a first-class citizen.

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