Talks You Should Attend at UKSTAR 2019 – Bill Mathews Picks

In this blog post, co-chair of UKSTAR 2019 Bill Matthews shares what talks he would like to see at UKSTAR 2019 based on his own current learning needs and testing interest. Bill explores some of the talks that will benefit him and might benefit you too!

What do I want from UKSTAR 2019?

I’m quite outcomes driven and so I approach planning my conference based on what I want to get out of it and I would recommend you do the same! What areas are you interested in, what areas are you working in, what areas would you like to learn more about. Decide this and you can tailor your own UKSTAR experience!

At the moment I have two broad themes that interest me and this is reflected in my selections:

AI in Testing and Testing AI – In recent years, my work and studies have focused on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in various forms. In particular how we test AI based systems (Testing AI) and the Ethics, Safety & Security of such systems.

So, I’m looking for sessions that will extend my knowledge and thinking around these topics. That is not to say the sessions must be AI related but sessions that will help me understand such systems at a deeper level such as ethics and uncertainty.

Additionally, while I have quite extensive experiences with building and testing AI systems, I’ve not actually spent much time thinking about and applying AI algorithms to the domain of testing. So, I’m interested in practioner talks on using AI in Testing to set my imagination alight.

Technical Leadership – Much of my day to day work on projects revolves around Technical Leadership so I spend my time working with teams delivering software to deliver faster, cheaper and better. So, I’m interested in session that will:

  • Expand my skills as a leader, in particular the thorny issue of change.
  • Expose me to different ways of testing
  • Explain challenges of testing different classes of systems
  • Help me communicate ideas and information better

Life as a Programme Chair is a busy one so I might not make it to all the sessions but here is the list of sessions that I’m looking forward to attending.

Day 1

Keynote 1 – The Reality of Testing in an Artificial World by Angie Jones

I’ve not yet heard Angie speak at a conference but I’ve heard great things about her stagecraft, storytelling and mostly about her great content. I think it is fantastic that we managed to secure Angie as the Opening Keynote for UKStar 2019 and I’m sure it will set the standard and tone for the conference.

In particular I’m looking forward to hearing about Angie’s experiences of testing AI based systems, the lessons she has learned and the skills she things testers need to meet this challenge.




Deep Dive CEmbracing Uncertainty in Software Development by Fiona Charles

Fiona has been a long-term inspiration to me so choosing her Deep Dive was pretty much a given; I’ve had the privilege of participating in a number of experiential workshops facilitated by Fiona and I always come away with fresh insights and my perspectives suitably challenged.

This session is on Uncertainly and it interests me from a Technical Leadership perspective as there is a strong dichotomy in projects where uncertainty abounds but stakeholders want certainty. It will be an interesting and likely challenging session.

Track 3Where Does Data Come from? by Jennifer Bonine

Jennifer is another new speaker to me but I’ve heard good things about her sessions. This session focuses on a topic that often vexes me on projects – management information.

Jennifer’s session will talk about how to use analytics to present dashboards in ways that help tell the testing story. In particular I’m looking for ideas on what analytics to capture, how to automate the capture analytics, and presentation of these as useful information.

Track 6Maximum Human Intervention by Susie Maguire

Yet another new speaker for me – this session intrigues me as it is very much focused on the Human in testing. All too often we drive towards squeezing the human out of testing through various uses of automation and particularly in testing conference that has a strong automation focus I think it is important to spend time considering and reflecting on the importance of being human.

I’m hoping Susie’s talk will make me think more about this and strategies to tackle this challenge.

Track 7Spot the difference; automating visual regression testing by Viv Richards

In the early days of my career we did something that seems to be similar to Visual Regression Testing but it was somewhat prone to false positives (we are talking about 25 years ago!). In recent years the concept of Visual Regression Testing has evolved and useful. From my perspective I’m really confident I understand how to use this idea effectively in projects, the tools available or the challenges/pitfalls of this approach. So, I’m looking forward to Viv sharing his experiences and ideas on this so that I can bring this to the teams I work with.

Track 2Chatsbots and How to Test Them by Hristo Gergov

For me this slot was a choice between this track and Gerie Owens’ track on testing wearables. Both tick boxes for me but eventually I decided on Chatbots.

The main reason was that it intersects with my work in AI and it’s a topic I’ve been skirting around the edges of for a while so I need to start thinking about the unique challenges of testing Chatbots.

In this session Hristo will take some of the hard work out of this for me by sharing his experiences and practices.




Keynote 2Technology’s Feet on Society’s Ground by Fiona Charles

My work in AI has really highlighted the challenges at the intersection of Technology and Society; in particular around difficult topics such as Privacy, Ethics and Safety. These are often topics that we can’t describe in clear crisp requirements and so, as testers, we need to be aware of these and apply our thinking and understanding of these to our unique contexts.

Fiona’s Keynote is going to be right on trend and will tackle these issues; I’m looking forward to gaining insights from Fiona on this particularly on Ethics.

Day 2

Keynote 3How to Lead Successful Organisation Change by Amy Philips

I’ve known Amy for a number of years but never heard her speak – crazy I know – so I’m pleased that I will finally have the opportunity to listen to her wisdom in this Keynote.

A significant part of my work is around leading change within organisations as they migrate towards a DevOps culture. It’s challenging and often a struggle especially in larger organisations.

So, I’m excited to hear how Amy has approached this challenge in the companies she has worked with and learn how she overcome the obstacles and the lessons she learned.


Track 2Cognitive Testing: Insight Driven Testing Powered by ML by Poornima Shamareddy

This talk really interests me and was one of my star picks during the selection process for the programme.

Much of my work in AI has been testing systems that use AI algorithms but I’ve not really spent any time thinking about how these might benefit my work as a tester until recently. With that in mind I’m keen to see how others are using AI to assist with their testing.

Poornima’s talk focuses mainly on how they built an AI based system to help them planning and scheduling testing at scale. I’m hoping this talk will give me some insights into how AI can support testing.

Track 5Cognitive QA by Wayne Rutter

This is another interesting talk about how people are using Machine Learning to support their testing; Wayne will be talking about the systems they build using Machine Learning algorithms to analyse information about their products to identify potential hotspots within the application to focus their testing on.

I’m interested to understand what data and algorithms they used as well as how successful the approach was compared to more traditional approaches.

Track 7Adept: AI, Automation and Laziness by Jaroslav Hyrszko

The premise of this talk is defect prediction so I’m quite intrigued by this talk and it will be interesting to compare the ideas presented with those presented in the Congnitive QA session by Wayne.

Again, I’m interested to understand what data and algorithms they used as well as how successful the approach was compared to more traditional approaches.



Keynote 4Why Do We Automate? By Bas Dijskra

One of the major themes of UKStar 2019 was Automation and it’s easy to fill a whole conference with the What and How of automation without really thinking about Why.

Bas will be tackling this topic in his keynote, and I think thing this will be an important topic for teams who are currently or are thinking about using automation. With Bas’s extensive experience in automation as well as coaching and training teams in automation he has the experience, and no doubt horror stories, to make this a compelling keynote.


Deep Dive FBuilding Robust Automation Frameworks by Bas Dijkstra

Choosing the final Deep Dive session was a tough choice – Story Telling is an important part of testing and leadership and despite many years of WebDriver experience I’ve not used CSS Selectors to any great degree. So attending any of these would be valuable to me.

In part I’m interested in Bas’s perspectives of this and it will be insightful to see how it differs from mine. However I also know that Bas is also a great trainer of technical material so I’m keen to see how he delivers a session like this and learn from his teaching experience.





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