Reviewing the Keynote Presentations at STAREAST | TechWell

Reviewing the Keynote Presentations at STAREAST

In May we were at the STAREAST testing conference in Orlando, Florida, which featured more than a hundred learning and networking opportunities and had the theme “Quest to Test.”


Deliberate Testing

Dan North kicked off the conference with his keynote, “Deliberate Testing in an Agile World,” and addressed the fact that despite testing becoming more of a core activity among agile teams, entire classes of tests aren’t being considered, and groups of stakeholders are being left out.


Because of these gaps, Dan proposes considering testing as a risk management exercise viewed through the eyes of multiple stakeholders. Each stakeholder has his own “risk appetite,” and by understanding their constraints, testers can test according to the overall risk profile and explore each risk plane with stakeholders. You can check out Dan’s complete slides here.


Testing Is Dead; Long Live Testing!

In his keynote “The Future of the Software Testing Profession,” Mike Sowers discussed how some people think testers are a dying breed and that the profession will go away due to automation and a reduction in defects.


Are we approaching an era of minimal defects? Is testing on its way out? What role will testers play on development teams? Mike’s main point was that it’s important to maintain a conversation about the value of testing and maintaining those skill sets.


Mike also addressed that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to testing and that automation is not a magic bullet. Testing is continuously evolving, and as a tester, you must continue to transform to keep up with the change.


Tools Don’t Test, They Just Run Stuff

Even though test automation has been around a long time, there are still some key mistakes people make. In her keynote, "Blunders in Test Automation," Dorothy Graham addressed these blunders and said the one thing you should take away is that testing tools do not do testing.


Dorothy identified this as one of the top errors in test automation and said tools are just programmed to execute—including bad tests. Testers need to think, observe, assess, recognize patterns, and interpret results.


Test automation is not a silver bullet; it requires direction, the appropriate skill set, and, of course, planning. Automation, when done right, can free testers to design more tests, do more exploratory testing, and find more bugs.


On Innovation

In his keynote “Innovation: From the Tester’s Viewpoint,” speaker Jason Arbon discussed how to identify low-hanging fruit for innovation, how to innovate with or without programming skills, and how to present innovation to your company.


When trying to figure out what to innovate on, Arbon’s advice was that innovation does not have to be something new, but rather the combination of two ideas (Doritos tacos, anyone?).


When it comes to testing, because of rapidly changing technology, we have to let go of trying to find every bug and leverage the very trends that are threatening the software.


There are two more STAR testing conferences this year: STARCANADA is June 21–25 in Vancouver, British Columbia, and STARWEST is September 27–October 2 in Anaheim, California. For details, visit and


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