In 1999, Cem Kaner and Brian Lawrence came up with the idea of having testers and test managers meet to talk about some of the problems that seemed to bedevil all of them. This was, for its time, a radical idea for the testing community. Here’s what they said, after the second LAWST but before the third:
This is a process developed by Cem Kaner and Brian Lawrence for technical information-sharing across different groups. It’s not very new. We adapted it from some academic models and models from other industries. Our goal is to facilitate sharing of information in depth. We don’t see enough of that happening today.
You can read the rest of the report here, at Cem Kaner’s site.
These conferences were to be different. They were to be small, fewer than 25 people, aggressively non-commercial, based on experience report and open, facilitated discussion. The ideal was to inspire further research and to publish papers.
Several LAWSTs were held, and then others began to happen, including (a very partial list here), the Software Test Managers’ Roundtables, the Workshops on Peformance and Reliability, the Workshops on Teaching Software Testing, the Workshops on Heuristic and Exploratory Techniques, Software Testing in Financial Services… Having attended a LAWST, James Lyndsay started a LAWST-inspired meeting called the London Exploratory Workshop on Testing (LEWT) that has a less formal structure (as far as I know, it remains the only LAWST-inspired meeting to be held in the back of a pub, although on the last day, WHET IV moved to the upstairs of one in 2007). Fiona Charles and I started the Toronto Workshops on Software Testing in 2005, more formal than LEWT but less formal than LAWST.
Cem and Brian’s gift to the community continues to expand all over the place. Back in 2007, Pradeep Soundararajan took me to a meeting of a group of testers that he had arranged in Koramangala, Bangalore. I blogged about that here, encouraging Pradeep and the rest of the group to build a community of inspired testers.
My observation is that when you’re waiting for something good to happen (all over the world, but especially in India), nothing at all seems to happen for a while… and then all of a sudden, everything happens.
In this case, the Bangalore Workshop on Software Testing happened, with the help of the Edista Testing Institute and Test Republic. And a number of skilled Indian testers prepared presentations, delivered them, and questioned each other. And Pradeep wrote about it all here.
By Pradeep’s account, a ton of ideas emerged in the discussion. You can read about those in the report. The overall theme that I see when I read the report is a group of testers using ideas that they’ve learned from elsewhere, and then (as James Bach describes it) inventing testing for themselves. That is, using the ideas that they’ve read or heard about, trying them in context, seeing if they work, tuning the stuff that does, adapting the stuff that might, and rejecting the stuff that doesn’t. And above all, questioning all the time. All in all, a terrific report on what must of been a terrific meeting. I’m now deeply envious of everyone who was there. Bravo, each and every one of you. Bravo, Edista and Test Republic. Bravo, Pradeep—and Bravo, India!
Do you want to attend a gathering like this, scaled up to a more formal conference setting, but that preserves the focus on experience reports, discussion, and learning? Do you want to go to a testing conference and confer? Do you want to explore and investigate what other testers are doing, rather than hearing a canned talk with questions only allowed if we have time? If the answer to any one of those questions is Yes, then I give you my highest recommendation: go to CAST, the Conference for the Association for Software Testing, in Colorado Springs, CO, June 13-16.