Tonight’s SF Selenium Meetup was the first “Whiteboard Night” for me. Two of the speakers were especially interesting….
okta’s QA Lead–Denali Lumma–flabbergasted me with the news that okta doesn’t have any manual testers at all! Engineers are required to create appropriate Selenium tests as part of their development of a new feature. While I’d certainly heard before this of developers being heavily invested in the test automation effort, the idea of no manual testing really intrigued me. Too many companies hire QA engineers to do automation but then feel compelled by the realities of aggressive release schedules to push those automation engineers into doing manual testing. This creates a vicious circle–the product continues to grow more rapidly than does the automation suite, leading to the need for still more manual testers to execute regression tests for those new releases.
Ms. Lumma also made clear how well Sauce Labs had served okta’s Selenium efforts, an opinion she recently expounded on in the okta blog, which I read on my train ride home after the Meetup. Her points really resonated with me. Too many companies don’t consider employing providers like Sauce Labs because of (a) the cost; or (b) a smug we-can-do-that-ourselves attitude. This is seriously short-sighted! The time employees spend dealing with automation infrastructure issues and solving Selenium mysteries is not free. It’s far better to have your automation engineers focus on creating customized automated tests for your product, and “out source” as much of the rest of the automation effort as possible to providers like Sauce Labs.
The other whiteboard presentation which I found particularly useful was that of Brian O’Neill, Senior QA Engineer at our Meetup host, Eventbrite. Eventbrite’s approach to Selenium automation is quite similar to what I’m doing–Selenium-RC, Python, page objects, Jenkins, etc. Since I’m the only automation engineer at present in the QA team where I work, I treated Brian like a temporary co-worker, peppering him with specific questions about Eventbrite’s test organization and structure. Occasionally other people attempted to ask questions, but eventually I had most of them scared off!
The Whiteboard Night format requires more effort on the part of an individual attendee than any of the other formats I’ve seen used in the SF Selenium Meetups. One has to quickly ascertain whether an individual presenter’s topic is at all useful, and if not, move on to the next speaker. Once one finds a presentation relevant to one’s own work, one must be assertive about asking the speaker questions, opinions, etc. But if one is willing to put in that extra effort, this format can be just as rewarding as the more traditional speaker/audience formats.
Kudos to Sauce Labs for their continued sponsorship of these SF Selenium Meetups!