Cukenfest 2018 — It’s all about the conversations

This article was first published on Medium.

In April of 2018, I attended Cukenfest; a BDD and Agile conference organised by the people at Cucumber. As a Cucumber user and open source contributor, this was a great way to meet some people I’d previously only chatted with on Slack, as well as hear some great talks by amazing people.

Preconference Dinner

The evening before the conference, we got together at a local pub with both conference speakers and Cucumber contributors. Here I finally got to meet people I’d been collaborating with in person! It was great getting to know them better, and discussing our experiences with Cucumber and BDD.

We also bonded over other topics, like a shared love of Kotlin , or dealing with a similar challenge of moving more towards a Software Engineering role from a tester role.

The highlight of the evening, other than meeting so many great people, might have been the discussion we had about Cucumber expressions, which were already available in the Ruby and JavaScript implementations, and have since been added to Cucumber-JVM.

Lots of smart people, with lots of interesting ideas and experiences to share.

Day one

The first day of the conference had a great lineup of talks by amazing speakers, including Dan NorthLiz KeoghGáspár NagyNat Price and Aslak Hellesøy (the creator of Cucumber). Speakers were introduced by Seb Rose, who could very well have a career as a standup comedian (you know, if this IT thing doesn’t work out).

If you’d like to read more about their talks, I highly recommend the blog by Katja: which also includes her sketch notes. Or watch the videos.

Speed meet

After the first round of talks, there was an opportunity for a speed meet; inspired by the European Testing Conference. The format of the speed meet was to have people draw a mind map about themselves as input to 3 minute conversations they would have with other attendants. Rows of chairs are set up facing each other and after every three minutes, people shift places so they end up talking to someone else. This is a great way to get conference attendees to talk to each other. Some people might find it a bit intimidating, but it does seem to foster more communication. The only downside for me is that it can get very loud!

Hallway track

At some point, I ran into Victoria Wiggins in the hallway. She had just done an amazing talk on neurodiversity and this provided the chance to tell her how how inspiring it was. It really showed a great self acceptance! While this led me to miss some of the scheduled talks, we had the opportunity to discuss (neuro)diversity in the workplace.

Personally, I really appreciate the hallway track at conferences, as it gives you the opportunity to meet people, and get different perspectives on things. This really reinforces the learning, as well as foster a community.

Day two

The second day of the conference was an open space, or `unconference`. This day was particularly geared towards interaction between participants.

Matt Wynne introduced us to the rules of the game:

  1. The law of 2 feet; if you’re not learning from or contributing to a session, you can walk off in search of a different session.

2. The other rules are:

  • Whoever comes is the right people
  • Whatever happens is the only thing that could’ve
  • When it starts is the right time
  • When it’s over, it’s over

This helps make sure everyone in a sessions remains interested and engaged.


Some of us had our own sessions planned; we’d been working on improving the Cucumber documentation and wanted to see what was needed to get them live. It ended up being Matt Wynne, Sam Wright (a.k.a. Plaindocs) and myself working on the last bits and pieces and getting them live!

Later that day we had a demo session, and gathered some great feedback from participants. We’ll be slowly improving them, based on actual user feedback. But for now, we’re very happy to have them live after working on them for many months!

After conference

At the end of the day, we got to enjoy the lovely weather at the rooftop bar. We continued discussions about Cucumber, BDD, Software Engineering, working in tech, being women in tech, and so much more.

Later, a few of us went out to dinner and conversations continued, sharing ideas and experiences and getting to know wonderful people. It’s all about the conversations…

Open Source Day

The next day, we had an Open Source Day, where we got together to discuss upcoming changes to various implementations of Cucumber, as well as how to continue improving the documentation. I got to meet some more Cucumber contributors, which was loads of fun. We even managed to get a few things done!

Take-aways from European Testing Conference 2018 — Do try this at home!

This article was first published on Medium.

This week I was lucky enough to attend European Testing Conference in Amsterdam. To get an impression of the conference, you can visit their website, read up on the #EuroTestConf hashtag on Twitter, or check any of the links at the end of this post.

In this blogpost, I’d like to share some of the take-aways from this conference. Do try this at home!

  1. “Painless Visual Testing” — Gojko Adzic

During the first keynote, Gojko Adzic likened visual testing to traveling with children: “always more painful and expensive than expected”.

Tools can help you collect data, but cannot determine whether the result looks “good”. We will often have to visually inspect the UI. Existing tests break when we makes changes to the UI.

To deal with this, Gojko introduced the idea of visual approval testing and gave a demo of a tool built for that purpose:

It would be fun to play with this tool, or at least this idea, to see how this could help make visual testing easier.

An earlier version of this talk can be found here.

2. How Would You Test a Text Field? — Maaret Pyhäjärvi

Maaret used the interview question “ How Would You Test a Text Field?” to generate ideas on how to test a text field, and illustrate how the types of answers people give indicate their level of test experience and mindset.

Some resources mentioned in the talk:

3. Writing Better BDD Scenarios — Seb Rose and Gáspár Nagy

During the workshop, Seb mentioned Example Mapping as described by Matt Wyne

4. Generating Test Scenarios” — Llewellyn Falco

Llewellyn showed us how to quickly increase test coverage by generating test cases. This is also something I’d love to play with!

Of course, he had to first show us his infamous sparrow deck:

Also, the BugMagnet tool was mentioned:

Having just recently heard of BugMagnet, I definitely plan to use this at work!

For more on approval testing:

5. Automating repetitive communication tasks with a Bot” — Pooja Shah

Pooja Shaj showed us chatbot Alice. You can find the repository on GitHub:

6. Interactive sessions

The conference made a point of being interactive; a lot of the insights came from great keynotes and workshops, as well as fellow attendees.

The interactive parts of the conference included a speed meet (talk to different people for 5 minutes each), lean coffee (facilitated discussion) and open space (free format to present, discuss or ask for help).

More on Lean Coffee:

One of the questions raised in our group was “How to motivate developers to test?”. Apart from the obvious “managing programmers is like herding cats”, one of the ideas mentioned was to have a bug bash.

Wrap up

The conference ended with a retrospective.

As you can see, we had a lot of fun, learned a lot and went home with new ideas to try out!

Read more:

If you want to read more about the conference, check out the following (especially the sketch notes by @marianneduijst and @KatjaBudnikov):

Conferences as a change toolMaaret Pyhäjärvi

European Testing Conference 2018 – Coming HomeLisi Hocke

ETC 2018, it was simply awesomeAmit Wertheimer

ETC 2018, did I say it was awesome?Amit Wertheimer

European Testing Conference 2018Markus Tacker

What I learned on first day of European Testing Conference 2018 – Karlo Smid

Arena lifeSeb Rose

Jackpot!Seb Rose

European Testing Conference 2018 #EuroTestConfKatja Budnikov

Collection of Sketchnotes of #EuroTestConfMarianne Duijst