I remember the feeling when I submitted my entry for Holiday Shopping Hackathon. Sure, there is always a bit of relief once you wrap something up. But mostly I was just proud that I managed to handle each task from Hackathon instructions.
I wasn’t eyeing any of the prices nor expected to ever hear back from judges. I simply saw Applitools Holiday Shopping Hackathon as a learning opportunity and went for it. This sense of pride was coming from having my learning mission accomplished.
Why did I need new tech goals in the first place?
I have been in managerial and leadership roles in IT industry for over 12 years. Even though I hold Master’s degree in Computer Science and my first role after graduation was as Software Engineer, 12 years is a lot of time to not be actively developing software.
All this time I have been making constant efforts to build and enhance an array of soft skills, to accumulate industry specific knowledge (for at least 5 industries) and to be able to actively participate in tech discussions. It turned out that this was not enough, at least not for the tech part, as I started getting feedback that I am “behind with the tech side”.
One thing was clear, I needed to craft a plan which will turn the things around.
The things I tried
I know by now that the best way to learn something is to start practicing it actively and to combine theory with practice. My work is not leaving me with much room for something like getting hands on experience with new cool frameworks. So all the learning and practicing had to happen in the evenings and over the weekend.
I subscribed to several podcasts and blogs and I handpicked some development courses which seemed related to technologies currently used with my team. I was investing a lot of time and was absolutely sure that there is no significant improvement. Courses I choose were either focused on very basic examples or were too demanding in terms of mandatory coursework. Even if I managed to stretch my time and cover self-assignments, whatever I learned there would fade away shortly because I was not actively using it.
Then came Hackathon
The hackathon just sounded like a good idea. The instructions were very specific; it was very clear what was expected from participants. Timeframe for submission was very generous – since learning about Hackathon, I had several weeks to complete my submission, so I didn’t need to pause on rest of my life and get behind with the sleep (something I have been associating with Hackathons until now).
Visual testing in Applitools
I admit that I ignored the manual and relied on exploring Applitools myself. Overall, I find the app to be intuitive and easy to use. All information about test runs is very well structured and easy to navigate through.
Multi-browser testing worked like a charm. It took me no time to set this up, and speed of multi-browser testing was more than I hoped for.
For one of Hackathon tasks, I figured out how bugs work. That was straight forward. Potential issues were very obviously highlighted. They scream action.
Another task was related to root causes. I didn’t figure this one in first attempt, but I have obviously excelled on that second try.
Visual testing before I knew Applitools
I recall scenarios where QA team on my projects was using Selenium to automate tests. Idea was to automate UI tests as well.
There were too many visual issues which tests were not detecting. Even the issues important for the end user were being undetected by these tests. QA Engineers were explaining the causes for this, coming up with workarounds how to increase the test coverage with limited time investments. This didn’t sit that well with the client.
What can I say, this experience has turned me into advocate for Applitools. I see a lot of potential of this kind of testing. I recognize the benefit for the current project my team is working on. And looking back I see there were many cases over the years where it would have helped QA Engineers I have worked with. It shortens the time to set up UI tests and it probably shortens running time. Plus, it provides better coverage.
Also, I find Test Automation University to be one of the best things that happened in testing community lately. Thank you for doing this, Applitools!
As for my personal development, Hackathon was a great boost for me. It helped me carry on with my learning trajectory. And I expect more Hackathons in my future.