27th April 2018

Recently the company I work for (MagenTys) co-sponsored CukenFest 2018. I didn’t know quite what to expect from my first Cukenfest conference but as a Junior SDET I was impressed with the line of speakers. They included Dan North (who coined the term BDD), Aslak Hellesoy (creator of Cucumber) and Gaspar Nagy (creator of Specflow)…so just a few big hitters there! And they didn’t fail to impress.



The day was split up into chunks of 20 minute talks, followed by a Q&A session with each speaker. Half way through the morning we had our first break and the MC introduced us to a Speed Meeting. What is a Speed Meeting, I hear you ask? Well firstly, we were primed to make a mind map with 3 sections: ‘Last year’, ‘This year’ and ‘Personal’. The idea behind this is to create a mind map summarising significant events from last year, what you intend on achieving this year and some personal details about yourself. You’d then sit in chairs arranged in rows opposite one another (like a typical speed dating set-up) and then we swaped mind maps with the person opposite. After 2 minutes, everyone gets up and moves 1 seat to the left and repeat. The idea behind this is to try and learn as much about the person sitting across from you simply by looking at their mind map, in a small amount of time.



From my speed meeting session, I got to speak to some really interesting people, like Liz Keogh, and after mentioning that I had recently learned Java, I was promptly encouraged to look at Kotlin. A simpler, more elegant OO language that also sits on the JVM. I laughed at Liz’s words, “I can’t see why any Java Dev who has used Kotlin would ever go back”. This has sparked my interest and after a quick search of Kotlin, I’ve quickly found some interesting reports. Here’s an interesting article describing it as one of two Fastest growing programming languages in 2018 (Python being number 1) https://www.techrepublic.com/article/fastest-growing-programming-languages-in-2018-why-these-two-upstarts-are-outpacing-the-rest/

Out of all the talks throughout the day, I was really impressed with Aslak’s talk on Example mapping. He described it as a technique that software teams can use to agree on the details of what to build, so that they can avoid surprises after development. Clearly explained and great slides to boot. Check out this video of Aslak explaining the technique Example Mapping. Another key takeaway from the day was my first taste of a functional language – Chris Roff showed how F# can be used together with Cucumber BDD style (I didn’t think that functional languages and BDD could mix. Well they do!)

The day ended with some Lightning talks, these are 2 minute talks where anyone could get up and talk about a subject of interest. I got to see MagenTys’ very own Mike Scott describing Data Personas. Essentially they can be used to describe the general behaviour of specific users (e.g. a user can be configured in a yml configuration file to mimic a forgetful user).

I came away encouraged and energised after a variety of exciting talks. Listening to some great minds and speaking to some interesting characters revealed to me the strength of the BDD community. I’m looking forward to using Cucumber more and more as I grow in the role of SDET.


About James Hughes