The Conference for the Association for Software Testing 2008 is coming up, July 14-16 in Toronto. The theme is “Interdisciplinary Approaches to Software Testing”. It’s an absolutely terrific program, featuring keynotes by Jerry Weinberg, Cem Kaner, Rob Sabourin, and Brian Fisher; tutorials by Jerry, Scott Barber, Hung Nguyen, and Julian Harty; and a dozen-or-so track sessions. You can read all about that part here: http://www.cast2008.org/Program.
As usual for CAST, the presentations are based on experience reports. The interdisciplinary theme makes things really interesting and rich. Martin Taylor and Brian Fisher will both be talking about data visualization. (I wonder if they’ll talk about stuff like Hans Rosling’s visualization tools?) Links between testing and the arts feature prominently. Jeremy Kominar from Research in Motion will be doing a session on what magic has taught him about testing; Jonathan Kohl and I will be doing a talk on relationships we’ve discovered between testing and music, especially with respect to learning; Adam White will be doing a presentation on improv theatre and how it has helped him to model testing projects and tasks.
There are track sessions on testing scientific software, embedded software, data warehousing, and mobile applications; and lessons learned from accounting software and civil engineering. Plus my friend Bart Broekman will be coming from Holland to present a track session called Testing Fuzzy Interfaces – Can We Learn from Biology and Wargaming?—like, how interdisciplinary is that?
Oh, and another thing: Jerry Weinberg will be using CAST as the official launch point for his new book, Perfect Software and Other Testing Myths. He’ll be signing the book. (And doubtless talking about it. A lot.) He won’t just be around for tutorial and the keynote, but for the entire conference, through Wednesday evening. As far as I know, it’s his only conference appearance this year, except for the AYE Conference of which he’s a host.
It ain’t just about the presenters, either. The brains-per-square-foot factor amongst the other conference participants is higher than any testing conference anywhere. Participants is a key word, because CAST is different. The conference is like a scaled-up version of the LAWST peer conferences. Each presentation is followed by a facilitated discussion, in which those in attendance actively question and discuss the ideas that were raised. Sometimes the conversations are challenging for the presenter, sometimes they’re, uh, challenging for the facilitator, but they’re always revealing and stimulating, and open-ended. That is, if there’s energy for a particular discussion, we find a way to keep it happening.
This isn’t a commercial conference. The money goes right back into the AST, a not-for-profit organization. It’s is a conference by testers, for testers.
And, well… not by marketers. As should be patently obvious by now, if you’ve been following our efforts. So we need your help!
2) We need you to spread the word. Please, please, please, talk about the conference, blog about it, send the links around to your friends and colleagues and managers and project teams. Spread the word on newsgroups and forums. Talk about it at your local testing association. Even if you can’t attend, you might alert a colleague who can–and they can tell you all about it. (That said, we’d rather see YOU, of course.)
3) Please ask your company for support in the form of sponsorship, by sending you and your fellow testers to the conference, or both. Since CAST is not-for-profit, the registration fees are very modest, especially in light of the quality of the presentations, the learning opportunities, and the chance to build community.
By the way, if you’re having trouble persuading Them to send you to the conference, check this out this wonderful article by Jon Suzuki (posted on the AYE Conference web site, speaking of conferences worth lobbying to attend). You’re a tester; think outside the box. Here’s just one suggestion: most companies have budgets for marketing and networking, and you might be able to attend CAST as part of a sponsorship deal if the cupboard is bare in the training budget. Did I mention that the conference hotel is only $114 per person per night? In downtown Toronto? In Canadian dollars? (Okay, so some things ain’t what they used to be.)
Once again, the program is here, the registration page is here, early bird registration closes in a little over a month, Toronto is a wonderful town, this will be a fantastic conference, and I’m done raving for a couple of days.