Selenium Conference 2011 wrap-up

Selenium Conference 2011 is over and done with for the year. I had a great time, and want to thank everyone who made it such a success. I think the biggest takeaway for me is that I need to switch over my xpath locators to CSS selectors right away. I can’t ignore the speed gains and it’s only going to be more work to fix it later.

I need to go back through my notes (which as Marlena Compton mentioned in a tweet from the conference, I have done up in mindmaps – that’ll be a separate post made from a device other than the laptop, as the wordpress iPad app doesn’t give me any way to really upload the images unless I jury-rig them into my photo library) and see what else struck me at the time. There’s a few talks that I wasn’t able to process fully at the time, so I’m planning to go back and watch the videos for them too.

While I was in San Francisco, I took the time to do some non-conference things as well. On Saturday, I had some fabulous sushi, and then bought a ticket to ride the double decker buses around town and see the sites. We drove past Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghiradelli Square, Chinatown, Little Italy, and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge seemed a darker red than pictures I’ve seen but the views were really nice. I got off the bus on the second loop after crossing the bridge (the first loop didn’t cross the bridge which the tour people neglected to tell me when I bought a ticket that specifically included crossing the bridge) and walked back down to Ghiradelli Square. There I got chocolate to bring back for my wife, boss, and team and a sundae that I nearly couldn’t finish. I went down the rest of the way to Fisherman’s Wharf and hung out there, listened to a street musician named OneLegChuck play some rock/reggae/bluesy music for a while, bought his cd, ate some seafood at Fisherman’s Grotto (reveling in having scallops which I love, but don’t get very often as my wife is allergic to them), walked past some other street performers (silver men!) and finally decided it was time to head back to my hotel. My cell phone died about this point, and I did not fully appreciate that my hotel was nearly 2 miles away, and the direct route took me up and down a VERY steep San Francisco hill (Nob Hill, I believe). Probably should have gone around. I think the fireman outside the fire station on Powell thought the same thing when I asked him how far I was from Sutter where my hotel was.

On Sunday, I had made plans to meet up with Elisabeth Hendrickson at her Agilistry Studio to do some pair programming. I took the BART train out (I hope some day the light rail out here even begins to approximate the usefulness of BART) and Elisabeth met me at the station. We went to Stacey’s – a restaurant co-owned by Scott Adams, of Dilbert fame. The food was good, the jokes on the menu were funny, and Elisabeth and I had a great conversation. We walked back over to the studio, and I walked her through my test automation architecture (she liked it!) she gave me the idea to have my tests log out Cucumber scenarios containing all the specific data values used in a run. This was profound to me, as I’m intentionally keeping my scenarios focused only on the essentials of the test to facilitate maintenance and portability of the tests. I was also facing the prospect of having someone change data out from under me and not being able to rerun the test, which was going to cause issues. Figuring out this log is one of the next tasks I want to look at. I suspect that it’ll be fairly straightforward to do with a log4r log. That’ll be another blog post.

Elisabeth also showed me some of the awesome work she’s doing on We paired to fix a bug that we both claim the other found. I think I asked some good questions even if I was having a hard time following the code as Elisabeth zipped around it. 🙂

Sunday night, I met my friends Lisa and Rick for dinner and games. We had some of the best pizza I’ve ever had (Chicago style, I think from Zachary’s maybe?) and they taught me to play the Cities and Knights of Catan. This is my favorite Catan, I think. I lost by 1 point, and had a great time with them.

Monday through Wednesday was the conference itself which I’ll address more later. The trip ended nicely with dinner with Marlena, Dawn ? (previously Cannan), and Michael Larsen who is the producer for the This Week in Software Testing podcast, which my wife and I were interviewed for just before I flew out to SF! We went to the Stinking Rose, and had a great time and a LOT of garlic, even if the flight attendant on the plane today didn’t really believe me as I didn’t smell like it apparently.

All in all, it was a great trip, and I’m planning several more posts about various topics around it.

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