Stories from EuroSTAR TestLab 2010 the test eye


Henrik started his journey by car from Karlstad and went down to Gothenburg to join with Martin. Both of us were going to take the train down to Copenhagen. Not surprisingly there were delays and the train was cancelled… Instead we headed back to Martin’s house and loaded Henrik’s car and took off. After several hours drive we arrived to Copenhagen, where we went directly to Bella Center and the TestLab at EuroSTAR.

This was the first time we met James Lyndsay and Bart Knaack in person; we had only talked with them over Skype/phone. So we all started with saying hello but there were really no time to sit down and have a cup of coffee – we needed to get to work straight away.

One of the burning issues to resolve the week before the conference was to bring client machines. Henrik was able to bring four laptops (thank you Compare Testlab and Know IT for sponsoring with this!) and Martin one. We worked in the TestLab for a few hours setting up and testing the two networks (James had one and Bart had another) with the servers connected to them.

Each network consisted of a bug tracker (Mantis), a server with OpenEMR, a server with a WebShop based on OsCommerce as well as a link to download a version of FreeMind.

When the conference center was getting near closing hours we rounded up and identified tasks needed to be done for the next coming days. We were assigned to setup and fill both the OpenEMR and the WebShop with new test data. We determined that we first should create a data model in FreeMind; both for reviewing before inserting the data and also so that we could print out the model and use it as a means to discuss with participants in the TestLab. With the model at hand, we thought the participants would also be able to identify test ideas of their own that they could try out.

We packed up everything and took Henriks car together with James and Bart. Half an hour later we were down in the hotel bar for dinner. We first met up with Steve Öberg, Rikard Edgren, Björn Karlsson, and Stefan Thoresson; and later on Markus Gärtner, Neil Thompson & Michael Bolton and some more joined our table and we were discussing testing long into the night.


At 8.45 we met up with James and Bart at the hotel and took a cab to the conference center where we setup the TestLab again. We started on the data models while James and Bart worked on setting up the details of the two networks. Meanwhile the sponsors were installing their applications on the client machines. Late into the afternoon we were starting to get ready with the new data for both systems. During the afternoon several people were visiting us and some of them started testing the applications. In fact, the first bug entered in the bug system was the one that won the prize “Best bug” – Markus Gärtner found it pretty fast…
Around 18:00 we were able to move into the room where the TestLab should be. We moved in all servers, routers and clients and setup the power for it all. Funny thing is that we didn’t find more than one electricity socket, so all machines were hooked up on this only one and we decided to load test the electricity over night. 🙂
During the evening we attended the Rebel Alliance (or Danish Alliance) for 11 interesting lightning talks. The discussions went on after that long into the night. But to our defense we must say that we got in bed in time.


Despite that we got in bed fairly early, we both overslept and missed the grand opening of the TestLab… Such a good start!
But no time to cry over that; we dug in and assisted in welcoming and introducing people that entered the TestLab and told them about it and how to use it; as well as guiding them to start testing. Bugs were reported and the sound of the chicken echoed all over. Nice!

During the day a lot of people were in and really sat down testing. There were also a lot of interesting collaboration going on between people that hadn’t met before. Some of the people that spent more time than others were Shmuel Gershon, Markus Gärtner, Isabel Evans, Michael Bolton, Ajay Balamurugadas, Zeger Van Hese, and Rob Sabourin (we might have forgot some of the names, but you know who you are).

During the day there were a lot of non-arranged  testing going on. But we had two really appreciated sessions during the day.
Firstly, there was a pair-testing session led by James Lyndsay where close to thirty people attended. There was a good mixture of experienced and less experienced testers. Even though the session was only about 30 minutes divided in three 10 minutes mini-sessions, it seemed to give the participants some very nice hands-on experience to bring home. And a lot of good collaboration was happening!

Secondly, during lunch hour it was an improvised weekend-testing session, Ajay Balamurugadas had invited as many as possible during his talk on Weekend Testing right before the session. Ajay and Markus Gärtner led the session with the rest of the participants that had showed up. Since there were so many that showed up we teamed up in pairs or smaller groups. The collaboration in the TestLab was yet again really great! After close to 30 minutes session we had found a bunch of interesting bugs while at the same time many have had the opportunity to team up with these fabulous  testers.

Despite that we had to cancel some planned sessions, we all thought that the first day was a real success . And we measured that by realizing that we didn’t have had time to take breaks or eat a proper lunch because the TestLab wasn’t empty for even a minute; there were at least 5 people there at minimum (except during the key note by Stuart Reid).

On the evening there was the Gala Awards dinner at Copenhagen City Hall and we ended up at a pub called Bryggeriet with the Rebel Alliance discussing testing in all forms. We went home pretty early and met up with some people in the hotel and continue discussing testing.


The day kicked off at 08:00 in the TestLab and we used the first 30 minutes preparing for yet another interesting day!

At the AllSTAR testers, a few renown testers were able to join in. We split the TestLab into three groups where each focused on a specific area which they knew well. Each group attacked the systems in various ways, teaching the participants new ideas on how to test the systems. Ari Takanen was showing how he did some security testing (and/or fuzz testing); Rob Lambert showed how he did accessibility testing; and James Lyndsay had a exploratory testing session discussing a lot of test ideas with the participants.

At the round the table of managing ET, James Lyndsay moderated the group consisting of Rob Sabourin, Michael Bolton, Carsten Feilberg, Shmuel Gershon, Zeger Van Hese, Henrik Andersson, Henrik Emilsson, Martin Jansson, Markus Gärtner, John Stevenson, Neil Thompson and some more (we are sorry if we missed to mention someone, but we try our best to remember all people that were there out of those 200 TestLab attendees). We talked about several aspects around managing ET; and the discussion began with how we had managed our own time in the TestLab. James Lyndsay moderated the group in an excellent way. One of the subjects was how often you change/update your charters. Another interesting topic was on how much information you should provide different testers with.

During the lunch session, Markus Gärtner launched a Testing Dojo that was very appreciated. And Michael Bolton was doing a transcription of the session. The testing dojo meant that one tester tested the application with a projector that showed the computer screen. The tester then described through the testing and explaining what happened. All other around the tester could ask questions. The tester should be switched every 5 minutes letting several people show off their skills.
While this was the intention, the testing dojo slightly turned out to something different. But still as much appreciated by those involved.

Thursday evening we, Markus Gärtner, and Michael Bolton headed in to Copenhagen for a dinner with Ajay Balamurugadas, Teemu Vesala, Kalle Huttunen and Mika Hänninen. It took us two hours to get to the restaurant because we were forced to explore the Copenhagen Metro and train system…


We headed home to Sweden in the morning and arrived in Gothenburg at 15:00 in the afternoon. Then Henrik continued to Karlstad and arrived at 18:30. Seeing the problems other people had with getting out of Denmark by plane or train, we were lucky that car traffic wasn’t too affected by the blizzard…

Some numbers

  • 180 people got in to the TestLab and got introduced to what we do (most of them sat down and tested)
  • 100 hours of testing
  • 100 reported bugs (plus several bugs not reported in the bug system)


Considering how the TestLab was run, it was like a mix of having an open house and being a test lead handling several projects at the same time. We served different stakeholders such as the participants in the lab, the speakers, the conference personal and ourselves as apprentices as well as the masters (James and Bart). The plan is ever changing. Each stakeholder value different things. Just like in the real world outside the TestLab.

There were also 5 sponsor presentations from the tool vendors that had their tools on the client machines. We really appreciated those sponsors that had put in some time to really show how their tool could be used on the same applications as we tested in the TestLab. Very useful and meant that there were more value for those interested in the tools to try things out for themselves on the lab machines.

During the TestLab we got a lot of ideas on what we want to do next year. A lot of ideas that we had on beforehand were though only good in theory; seeing the real obstacles and problems in practice was a good lesson.

And finally, we really appreciate the great effort that James and Bart have done in creating the EuroSTAR TestLab and made it to such a remarkable success. We will have the benefit of building upon a very solid and well thought-out platform & concept!

We had a lot of fun and hope that all others had a great time!
See you all in Manchester 2011!

Henrik and Martin

liz December 9th, 2010

wow! Sounds like quite a trip and quite a time! And we can’t wait for Manchester in 2011! 🙂

Henrik Emilsson December 9th, 2010

Thank you Liz!

Rikard Edgren December 13th, 2010

I had a great time in the lab, but it was too short.
There were too many presentations I wanted to attend, so the testing became very fragmented.
I’m almost hoping for a weaker programme in Manchester…

Henrik Emilsson December 20th, 2010

Me and Martin in the temporary TestLab on Monday or Tuesday: