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.
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.
Lots of smart people, with lots of interesting ideas and experiences to share.
The first day of the conference had a great lineup of talks by amazing speakers, including Dan North, Liz Keogh, Gáspár Nagy, Nat 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: https://www.katjasays.com/cukenfest-2018-london-recap/ which also includes her sketch notes. Or watch the videos.
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!
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.
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:
- 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!
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!