Breaking the ice in Testing Cup 2017

The adrenaline was rushing to my heart so heavily that I couldn’t sleep the whole night. I kept falling into drowsy mind flow, muscles relaxed, but heart just could not calm down. At around 4 AM birds started chirping outside, I still felt the heat wave, took a cold shower and kept trying to fall asleep. At 6 AM until 7 AM I managed to doze off a few 10 minute intervals and then it was time to get ready. The big day was here. June 9th, the conference day of Testing Cup 2017 where I was doing my first ever conference presentation. 

I was so honored and extremely excited to be invited to speak at Testing Cup 2017 in Gdansk, Poland. The greatest ever thing about Testing Cup is that testers can compete for it! How awesome is that? Teams/individuals participate in a testing competition and can prove themselves to be the best bug catchers! Such a great opportunity for testers in Poland! And take a look how the actual prizes look like:

I arrived on the afternoon of the 8th of June, so sadly, did not see the competition itself taking action, but could join the beach after-party which was an amazing experience! I took a train ride to Sopot (on the way I learned a good lesson about Polish trains – the ticket validation machines are on the train stops only, not on the trains themselves!) and after a walk on the beach I joined the Testing Cup participants & speakers in a bar on the beach. There were snacks, drinks, even a DJ and the fire show, and, of course, the most wonderful view with a special appearance of the rainbow:


After the party, I went back to rest before the big day and here is where we get to the first paragraph of this post. Even if the night hadn’t been wonderful and I was worried, but one of the speakers told me when I asked if they are nervous “I was, for the first talk”, so I believe this is a natural feeling. The good part is that I didn’t feel sleepy at all and could listen actively because of the adrenaline rush.

I arrived to the venue to participate on the second day of the Testing Cup which was the conference day and I haven’t mentioned yet, but the whole competition was in a stadium! This was where we would relax during the breaks or just go to breathe some fresh air:


The fantastic part about the conference was that it had several tracks! One was purely in English, so I always had what to listen to. To name a few of many great presentations that day:

Andreas Faes talked about his experience of changing beliefs as a tester in his presentation “Losing my religion”. Andreas gave an overview of testing schools, told examples from his professional journey and shared great concepts about testing. I could relate to it so much!

Maria Kedemo delivered a great keynote on testability “Dimensions of Testability”. I cannot stress enough how I agree with the points she made because usually the most common obstacles we face as testers are testability issues.

Ben Simo (better known as “the bug magnet” or “a sort of skilled hacker”) gave a keynote called “An Incredible Mess”. It was one of the funniest talks I have ever seen. Ben shared his story about his experience with website’s usage and the publicity that was caused by the bugs he reported to them.

And now… what the curious of you have been waiting for – how did my talk go?

I think in general the talk itself went fine, I delivered the content and didn’t feel nervous, but all my nerves went away partially because just went black once I started the presentation! Even if before we did a tech check (I wanted to make sure it works as I had an iframe which prevented me from using other presentation options then) – all worked well then. However, once I started we had to interrupt the presentation a couple of times and change the laptop (which was not ready for presentation and got some meeting pop-ups!) I think I faced one of the biggest technical problems speaker can get all together, so this just gave me the attitude that – the worst may have happened, so I should just continue and deliver the message the best I can! After the presentation, I really felt like the ice has been broken and the speaker’s words about the first presentation being the hardest were more than truth – it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be!

In the end, even if I wasn’t too happy about technical issues and got my lessons learned ( never again and always have back-ups!),  I really got inspired by the great feedback I got from the audience. This has shown me that it doesn’t matter even that my presentation had some glitches (of course would be better if it didn’t, but life happens!), people in the end came to hear the content! Nothing can be more rewarding to a speaker than to get a message like this:

And I must say, Testing Cup’s audience was so nice! People were smiling, patient and supportive. Once I went to deliver my talk and saw people’s supportive eyes shining with curiosity, I knew that I am in a safe place!

Huge thanks to the wonderful organizers of Testing Cup and the amazing participants. Also, thanks to my colleagues for sending encouraging messages and believing in me from the very start. Lastly, enormous thanks to such a magical community of testers in social media who are always there to support you and are so welcoming to new speakers!

The ice has been broken. I am ready to speak again!


“I have a Craft in me” or Craft Conference 2017 impressions

Second year in a row I got a chance to attend Craft Conference in Budapest. After last year’s event I was very looking forward to this conference – mainly because it is our company’s tradition to give a chance to all the dev team members to attend the event. And, having in mind how wonderfully amazing my colleagues are – Craft is a great conference where we not only learned a lot, but also had our own team building time.

This leads me to community zones. At TED(x) conferences community zones are always very important – they say that anyone can watch the talks online, but people really want to attend the event for meeting new people and for the cool activities to do during the breaks. Well, I must say that Craft’s community zones were definitely moving towards that direction!

The conference had a huge amount of participants (around 2000!), but there were plenty of activities around having in mind that the venue was the Hungarian Railway Museum!

I love this venue choice – last year it was in the same venue (the pic above was taken last year – but I promise, it looked the same) and I was looking forward to try the activities I haven’t tried before. For example, we could take a ride on the little train:

Or my another favorite was small Bosch cycling cars – the only type I can drive properly. I saw this video on Twitter from the afterparty on the first event’s day and it is just hilarious:

The talks ranged quite a lot: from soft skills topics to very technical ones. There were several tracks as well – everyone could choose the talk they are interested in. I think this year I had more topics that interested me as a tester than last year, but there were different opinions as well – it all is a matter of taste in the end.

During the 2 day conference, I heard a lot of great ideas, but here I decided to list 3 my personal favorite talks from Craft 2017 that I highly recommend you to watch (ordered chronologically):

  1. Maaret Pyhäjärvi – Learning in Layers: A Demo of Exploratory Testing. As a tester, I just had to go to this talk! I think it gave a really nice overall image on how exploratory testing can lead you to different areas in a product – it all depends on your start choices. And, oh boy, how much you can find. At my work, I am a note taker, but in this presentation Maaret with the help of a volunteer did a strong style pairing and created a mind map. I loved this idea and can’t wait to actually use it in the new feature’s exploratory testing.

2. Melissa Perri – The Build Trap. As a tester, I often get to be the middleman between product and dev teams. I usually work pretty close with programmers, so sometimes I struggle to understand the importance of reliable usability testing for example. However, this talk shed a new light on the topic and I feel like I learned a lot from product management’s perspective on how actually the real user’s opinions matter – your colleagues are not the usual users.

3. Richard Kasperowski – Building Great Teams: Culture and Core Protocols. A very interesting talk which made me take notes. One of the key ideas that really hit me was that if a person is telling you how they feel – you never should tell them what to do. The fact that they share how they feel (even if sometimes it is a bad feedback in a way) should be accepted, not attacked (with forced suggestions that they should do this or that). Usually as humans we try to “give advice” (as we see it), but that is not what is needed at that point. Also, the talk had on the spot exercises. I went to this talk with one of my colleagues. When we walked out, we both agreed that we feel a little bit changed inside. After doing the exercises together – we learned more about each other and most importantly – ourselves.

And lastly, I must mention that with Craft conference having wonderful speakers in town, there are many Craft Edition meetups in the city happening! This year palinQA Budapest testers meetup that I’m a part of organizing had two consecutive days of meetups with three Craft speakers: Dan North and Emanuil Slavov on 26th of April and Maaret Pyhäjärvi on 27th of April.

Audience really enjoyed both meetups, I heard that for some people the first meetup was the absolute favorite of all meetups we have organized.

While the second day’s meetup had Maaret presenting ‘5 Controversial Ideas to Improve your Impact as a Tester’ and it was indeed pretty controversial. This made the audience extremely active and they asked a lot of questions. It was a wonderful evening.

Overall, I am very happy to have participated in Craft 2017! I met awesome people, had a blast and learned a lot.

Impressions of “How to Break Web Software” by Mike Andrews and James A. Whittaker

Everyday testing for me involves Web Software, to be precise, I mainly test a Web Service. At work we have a company book shelf and there were no surprises to encounter  “How to Break Web Software: Functional and Security Testing of Web Applications and Web Services” by Mike Andrews and James A. Whittaker. As it was the only testing related book in the shelf at that point – I decided to read it.

This book was written in 2006 so you can imagine that a lot has changed since! Web Software is bigger than ever. Even a regular website may use multiple web services. I did smirk a lot on some of the terms like Web Bugs (I never heard this term before: it would always be called a tracker or a tracking pixel in my environment). Also, to be honest, some of the tools or examples including IE6 made me cringe a little bit and felt a bit outdated, but…

“How to Break Web Software” gives very good foundation for Security Testing Web Software. I haven’t had much experience with Security Testing except for  one of the days in the 30 Days of Testing where I got to play around with Gruyere.

SQL injection, cross-site scripting, session hijacking and cookie poisoning (web cookies not the ones you brought to work to your colleagues as advised in “Explore It”) are just a few attacks which are in this book. Attacks have very clear structure: when to apply it, how to conduct it and how to protect from it.

Not only that the book describes attacks clearly, but it explains the way Web Software works and introduces its terms and technologies. I realized that the last chapter called Web Services would have been like a gold mine for me from the first day when I started working here. It describes technologies I have to work with daily.

“How to Break Web Software” gave me a better understanding of Web Software and even how to be safer in the Web applying some tips mentioned in the book. The attack descriptions were a great way to learn about the testing techniques heard about before, but the best way to learn them better is to apply them practically.



Fail Better in 2017: Story of Unaccepted Conference Speaker

It’s that time of the year again: Christmas, relatives, and, a great opportunity to reflect on the past year. I have decided to write about one of the important lessons I had a chance to experience: failing to succeed as a conference speaker.

It is not as drastic as it sounds like – I never actually tried it before, so I just did not get accepted. However, I somehow thought that it will be easier, but everything takes time. After attending several conferences, I thought I have something to share that is really important and should be heard about: I wrote my first abstract and started applying to the testing conferences. You can as well find some tips on how I started this journey in my previous post:  Where to start if you want to be a speaker.

I failed to get accepted to around 5 conferences.

When I got the first reject, I tried to rationalize it: its lineup actually ended up having the majority of men with more than 20 years of experience. Not that I have anything against experienced professionals who tend to be men, but I felt that maybe organizers were not ready to believe that there are more good female speakers even if they don’t have many years of experience. This calmed me down a bit and I started thinking that maybe this is just a matter of external conditions and coincidences.

After a few more rejects, I realized something: there are many reasons why you may not be accepted and don’t let it bring you down. Keep trying.

Sometimes reasons may be actually your topic: maybe conference is interested in a different kind of talk, other times it could be that there are just more stronger and better candidates than you.

A great thing to do is to actually ask why your talk did not get accepted. I did ask for it in all my rejects, but to be honest, I received the letter back only in one of the cases, however, I really appreciated it. The feedback letter explained situation and gave me some information that I couldn’t see: there were more than a 100 candidates and even if my topic was nice, but this year there were some other topics that got prioritized.

So, I started thinking, that if my topic gets overbeated by some stronger topics, maybe I should start thinking of a stronger topic, too. Something that would not get rejected easily.

All the “No” answers actually motivated me to work harder and try again maybe in a different way. So, the advice for this year (my favorite quote ever and in general the motto of my life which I use way too often) is:

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett

Happy 2017! Don’t be afraid to fail – it will make you better.




How “Clean Code” by Robert C. Martin helped me to get my automation tests going

Even if I am a pretty decent bookworm, it took me months to finish “Clean Code”! It definitely was not an easy evening read for me (even though I do know some people who read it overnight) and it was the very first book I have read on programming.

In the first years of my testing career my tasks were limited to setting up my own testing environment and manual testing (very often with manual test scripts). No wonder it started making me feel like a monkey and bored to death!

When I changed my job to being the lone tester in a startup, my time resources became very limited. Manual routine tasks started to hurt a lot, so automated UI tests became a long term plan. Luckily I have wonderful colleagues who gave me a lot of needed support to get going.

In the very start as a very beginner programmer (never done it before except in university basic classes) and a practical person, I just created some automated tests based on examples I found. My main purpose there was to make it work. If it works – then I move on to the next thing I want to automate, google, find a solution, modify and move on.

Then, the fun began. We did want my automated tests to be actually used and scheduled. For this purpose GitHub was chosen to store it and for that I had to start creating pull-requests and get them reviewed by a senior Java developer. It was definitely terrifying. First pull request I made got 30 comments in one review session.

The comments were super useful, but it made me realize so well that to make it work is not enough – we need to make it maintainable, readable not only to me, but others, and scalable for the future. There were so many things I did not know about programming. And there came an advice from the developer for me to read “Clean Code” by Robert C. Martin.

I did read it and I realized how important it is to actually write clean code. It definitely should be a long term goal of everyone.

Some very important points mentioned in the book which I loved:

  • Meaningful names: Code has to be readable and understandable to others as well, so use intention-revealing names without disinformation.
  • The single responsibility principle (SRP): there should be only one reason (responsibility) for class or module to change.
  • Tests should be clean: readable! One assert per time if possible and single concept per test.

“Clean Code” is full of useful advice on how to make your code cleaner. It includes some easy tips like the ones I listed above, but it also goes in depth and looks into code examples and tries to make the code cleaner hands-on.

Getting software to work and making software clean are two very different activities.

I think the quote above sums up the main idea of the book. Very often whoever is doing programming forget this very important aspect: clean code can make your life way easier in the long run and even help you to avoid making mistakes (or bugs!).

Months later, I finally finished this book (reading bit by bit) and my automated tests are now scheduled for nightly runs. I am far from being a great programmer, but, due to a lot of useful code reviews and information obtained from “Clean Code”, I have improved my code quality a lot and can make changes way easier than before.

Even if you are a not a full time programmer, but have to do some programming, do not underestimate the power of clean code. It is not only about making it work, it’s about making it work in the long run, too. It will scale, get used and be easy to maintain if you work on writing cleaner code. 

Why phrase “pass the QA” makes me cringe

Today I heard someone say “pass the QA” and in this post I will share why I believe that we should cross out this phrase from all dictionaries where it is included because it is just wrong use of definitions.

Let’s break this phrase into two parts: QA and pass.

What is QA?
I am talking here in a sense of quality assurance. Okay, that sounds clear, however, what is quality assurance?

A lot of people mix up QA and testing on a daily basis. There have been various discussions about it and I mostly lean towards the point of Michael Bolton in his post Testers: Get Out of the Quality Assurance Business. It was an eye opener blog post for me: my first job as a tester even had it in the title “Software Quality Assurance Analyst”. Later on, I turned into QA Engineer. However, I am a tester.

Michael Bolton in that blog post gives so many valid points, it’s like a gold mine. It is one of my favorite ever posts about testing. It basically stresses that as a tester you cannot really assure quality. You just inspect it and help to improve it. You test.

QA is not a person or the department of certain type of professionals. It is a task of everyone in the company to work towards assuring quality. Tester may play a huge part in it, but the actual “action” assurers of quality usually are programmers because they actually are making changes to the quality level. And, let’s not forget the main part:

Assuring quality is an ongoing task/goal of the company.

What does it mean to pass?

In testing passing the test means that the test has passed based on its acceptance criteria.

Test may be built from multiple specific test cases or lead by charters. However, the defined acceptance criteria should be clear.

Passing of tests could be related to the common question in testing: how much is it enough to test? Sometimes the answer is not that obvious. There may be various scenarios, explorations to be made and a common standard should be discussed with product management team on what are the requirements and if edge cases should be addressed for the initial release/iteration.

Why don’t I like the phrase “pass the QA”?

After explaining both parts of this phrase, I can say that for me saying “pass the quality assurance” makes almost no sense.

Quality assuring is an ongoing task, so it is never going to end. You cannot pass the quality assurance as it is, but you can pass the test.

I do understand the intent of this phrase and why it was used: it was meant to say that testing will be completed with no show-stopper issues and will pass the acceptance criteria.

Let’s not underestimate the power of wording. Saying “pass the QA” can definitely be misleading. However, sad news are that this term is quite popular to describe the teams of testers. In this case, let’s spread the awareness of the differences between QA and testing – we all are doing QA in the company, but only testers do testing as their full time job (programmers do a fair deal of testing as well, but it is not their main responsibility usually).




Learnings from “Explore It!” by Elisabeth Hendrickson

Exploratory testing is mentioned quite often in the testing world and I believe that the best book to start learning about it is Explore It! Reduce Risk and Increase Confidence with Exploratory Testing by Elisabeth Hendrickson.

This book is pretty short (186 pages), written in a wonderfully smooth and easy to read style, and, it is full of practical tips and tricks for testers. I felt that a lot of things I’ve read in the book I always wanted to express myself, but never found the right words.

Elisabeth starts with foundations about exploring and why it is important. What I liked a lot in the first part of the book was the definition of testing which allowed me to finally know how to clearly answer what’s the difference between testing and checking:

Testing = Checking + Exploring

You’re not done testing until you’ve checked that the software meets expextations and you’ve explored whether there are additional risks.

Very often some colleagues may not understand that testing is more than checking the requirements – there are many silent risks which may cause problems and to find them we need to explore. I also loved Elisabeth’s example of a net: you can imagine software covered in a net and the better coverage there is of the checks, the finer the weave is. However, checks may not cover some spots, so we must explore to find areas where we should improve the net weave.

After some foundations, this book provides many practical tips on how to explore. It teaches you how not to get overwhelmed with the areas to explore, how to create charters and lists many helpful methods for exploration. They are explained in a clear manner and their summary is added in an Appendix 2 of the book. You may have heard of same author’s Test Heuristics Cheat Sheet which is pretty similar to the one in the book.

One more thing that I found especially useful and right on point was the last part of the book called “Putting It in Context”. Not only does it have a lot of useful information on testing itself, but also Elisabeth includes several valuable tips on the communication part of the tester’s job (and.. I love this topic!).

What struck me the most was that very often testers end up “creating” new requirements which may cause some tension in a team. This is very common in a life of a tester as the more you use the product – the more areas you uncover and some of them may not have their requirements specified. In this situation, programmers may get a bit hurt that the tester is coming up with never mentioned scenarios. Here Elisabeth gives a great tip for testers: try to get into requirements meetings. Testers must be present when the requirements are being created together with a programmer and a product manager. In this way, risks can be discussed and clarified together avoiding silent requirements popping up in the late stages of the product which may expand the scope. And, Elisabeth gives a brilliant tip on how to get into those meetings:

Bring cookies. The other people involved are less likely to kick you out of the meeting if you come bearing chocolate.

In conclusion, “Explore It!” was a pleasure to read. It is a very helpful book on how to express yourself better and how to do that sometimes overwhelming job of a tester more systematically. I feel like I have gained confidence as a tester after reading this great book. Nevertheless, I recommended it to some of my non-tester colleagues as I am sure that it gives a good and easy to understand insight to testing.



Testing challenge was amazing! – Day 31 of 30 Days of Testing

When I decided to join 30 Days of Testing challenge, I did not have much expectations. Now, after a month of sticking to it honestly and sincerely every single day, I can admit that I have learned a lot and met some wonderful people on the way!

Here is the list of all challenges with links to the posts I wrote about them:

    Bought and read “Explore It!” by Elisabeth Hendrickson
    What I’m doing at work
    Testcast Podcast “Testing is Dead”

























    Off-by-one error hunt

    Give someone positive feedback



Give someone positive feedback – Day 30 of 30 Days of Testing


I couldn’t imagine of a better way to end an amazing journey of 30 Days of Testing. After all days filled with various testing tasks the final touch is personal, positive and related to people around us.

One of previous challenges was rather work-based- to say something nice about product you tested. It is closely related to today’s challenge as you may say it to a developer who made the product, but today it’s time to say something personal!

In my company, every three months we have personal feedback sessions with our CTO and VP of Engineering. Not only that we get feedback about ourselves, but also we are encouraged to express feedback about everyone in the team (including the people who are in the room). Usually, even if there are some things to improve, positive feedback is a big driving force which calms you down and makes you realize that people value you.

However, I never said positive feedback on purpose to someone personally, so today I chose a programmer who I greatly value, but maybe do not express that enough, and wrote that to him.

The experience was pretty rewarding! I had some struggles to formulate the words and it took a while to click  “Send”, but I feel that he really deserved it and hope that it will make his day. It would make mine.

In the end, I believe that it would be nice to give (and receive!) positive feedback real-time, not on challenges or feedback sessions, but when you feel like it.


Off-by-one error hunt – Day 29 of 30 Days of Testing


I did not know where to start with this challenge: what is an out by one error?

After some googling, I decided to stick to off-by-one error and its definition from Wikipedia:
An off-by-one error is a logic error involving the discrete equivalent of a boundary condition. It often occurs in computer programming when an iterative loop iterates one time too many or too few. This problem could arise when a programmer makes mistakes such as using “is less than or equal to” where “is less than” should have been used in a comparison or fails to take into account that a sequence starts at zero rather than one (as with array indices in many languages).

I did discuss this with some friends and they confirmed that it must be the same as “an out by one error”. They gave some more practical examples as well:

  • an array has 10 elements and you want the fifth one, so you do arr[5], but since arrays might be indexed from 0, the fifth element is arr[4] and you’re off-by-one;
  • Vitruvius fencepost error: if you build a straight fence 30 meters long with posts spaced 3 meters apart, how many posts do you need? You may think that you need 10, but to make 10 sections, you need 11 posts.

I am super grateful for wonderful friends as one of them doubting that I will be able to find any of these errors as they are quite easy to check and rare in production, created my own broken counter! If you write a number to which this little program should count – it will start counting with 0 (intentional programmer’s error):

I did not want to give up this easily, so I invested some time checking other sites.I was thinking of where any kind of counting would be done, and, ended up checking e-commerce sites: their searches and price filtering (searching for < instead of =<).

I went to Vero Moda’s Day Dresses category. I decided to check if price filters are working as they say: if there is a price filter “10-20” I expect that it would include both 10 and 20. So, I checked first 10-20 filter and filtered results by High to Low price:
As you can see, there are no 20 pounds dresses. I may guess here that there is less than 20 filter (which user doesn’t know), not less or equal as you may assume. However, maybe site simply does not have dresses which are worth 20 pounds? So, I checked filter 20-30 and filtered prices from low to high to see if there are 20 pounds dresses:


And it turns out that there are dresses which are worth 20 pounds. This means that I found an off-by-one error:

In Vero Moda’s price range filter, upper bound is not included: it is < instead of =<.

This is definitely not a huge mistake, but may cost a lot: if user’s budget is up to 20 pounds after filtering to 10-20 price range she may not find what she wants, thus she may end up not buying anything. Maybe some of the dresses which were costing equally 20 dollars would have been most attractive to the user, but there was no chance to see them with the filter on.

30 Days of Testing is moving towards the end and I am so grateful that I need to google some of the definitions because I did encounter off-by-one errors before (especially with strict bounds), but never knew the exact name. Now I do and it feels great to have a term which describes a specific type of a problem!