Monday, July 23, 2012

CAST 2012, or CASTing Through the Computer Screen

CAST 2012 recently wrapped up.  The annual Conference of the Association for Software Testing was held in San Jose, California, Monday and Tuesday, July 16 and 17, 2012.  Wednesday the 18th saw tutorials.  Thursday was the Board of Directors meeting.

First, even though I had helped plan the Emerging Topics track, I had some conflicts arise that kept me away (physically).  I was a tad disappointed that after the work that went in, I would not be drinking in the goodness that is the CAST experience.

Why is that a big deal? 

Its a conference, right?

CAST is unlike any conference I have ever attended.  They make it a point of being a participatory, engaged, function - not merely sitting listening to someone drone on reading power point slides.  There is required time in each session for questions and discussion around the presentation.  Some of them can be quite brutally honest.

This becomes an issue for some people.

When one engages with people who think, rote-learned answers do not hold up well.  Watching the interplay as people, including the presenters, learn, is something that is in itself, a top-flite education in testing.

And I could not be there.  Bummer.

I chose the next best thing - I joined in the video stream as much as the day-job and other responsibilities allowed.  I listened to Emerging Topics presentations, keynotes, a panel discussion on the results of Test Coach Camp and CASTLive - the evening series of interviews with speakers and participants - with online chat and... stuff.

While I could not be there in person, this was a pretty decent substitute.

Other cool things

Keynotes by Tripp Babbitt and Elizabeth Hendrickson.  Great panel discussions on what people learned from at Test Coach Camp, and, cool stuff.

Simply put, there are recordings to be viewed and listened to here.

Other things happened as well, like announcing the election results for AST Board of Directors.

I was elected to the Board of Directors to serve a single year, to fill a position left vacant by a Board Member who could not finish his term.

I am deeply honored to have been selected to serve in this way.

I am humbled, and looking forward to this new chapter in testing adventure.


  1. One of these years I need to make it to CAST. I get frustrated at some large testing conferences where there seem to be a lot of participants who are there because their managers made them go. They aren't willing to make any effort to learn, they just want to sit and listen. How refreshing to hear of a conference with a different sort of crowd, and organizers who enable everyone to engage.

  2. Hi Lisa, one thing I learned at my very first CAST: if the people in a session say /nothing/ during the Q/A (open-season) portion, that is a really bad sign. Often times people debate, challenge, inquire, hash, thrash and mash points so that splitting hairs "ain't in it" - and at the end of the day, everyone (including the presenter) comes away with a better understanding.

    Thanks for the comment!

  3. I'm glad I could contribute to the remote experience for ya. And congrats! :)

    1. Thanks Claire! I'm glad you joined in! (Claire was one of the presenters who got rave reviews online... and I expect in the room. She also hung out at the the Board of Directors meeting after the conference itself.)

    2. I got rave reviews online? That's so cool! Anywhere I might see such a thing?

    3. Saw at least a couple of tweets, IIRC there were nice comments in the "chat" dialogue from the stream. If I get a moment I'll go digging.