Another self retro – continuing the path of becoming a multi self retro

I read the tweet by Stephan Kämper about his blog post A Double Self Retro On Its Way To A Multi Self Retro. And then of course also read the article, as well as the articles by Bruce (the legend) and Chris Armstrong and of course also there retro articles Personal Development 2020 Retro and All my life I’ve been good but, now what the hell….. and I liked them a lot. All of them.
And since Bruce in her article explicitly invited others to participate, I decided to join the party.

What is this and why did you agree to do a double multi self retro?

The end of the year, and especially the time between Christmas and the beginning of the new year, always has been a moment where live is less stressful, I step back, take some days off and enjoy time with the family. What better occasion could there be, to do a retrospective?
I was thinking about a self reflective blog post for a while already, but didn’t really feel motivated enough to do it, but reading and enjoying those from others made me want to write my own.

What did you think your goals were when you started the year?

I’m usually not setting personal goals or making any resolutions for the new year.
Beginning of last year was quite different. I had started a personal coaching with Deborah Preuss to finally overcome my procrastination. That coaching was still ongoing when the new year started. So overcoming procrastination was clearly a goal set.

Also, I wanted to become a „real“ conference speaker, especially at Agile Testing Days (#agileTD). After having spoken at some smaller local events, and even being lightning speaker at #agileTD twice, I now wanted to „the real thing“.

I got a first tattoo on my right forearm in November 2019, and wanted to get tattoos all over the arm.

How did your goals change through the year?

Not so much actually. My financial plans changed, so I only got a second tattoo on the right forearm.
After this whole pandemic thing started, I wanted to somehow survive that and manage working from home with a certain discipline, which worked out pretty well I think.

How did you recalibrate in the year, when things changed?

I started working from home in mid March. I quickly figured that needs some discipline.
Working from home for me has one huge advantage: It saves me about 2.5 hours of commute per day. So I had a lot more time for doing things I like: Spending time with my (closest) family, learning, reading, …

I also started participating in the #100DaysOfMove challenge, and now I’m doing sports nearly daily. Not sure that is caused by the pandemic, but it for sure was a mayor change for me.


Highest point of the year

Getting accepted as speaker at Agile Testing Days!


Lowest point of the year

No specific low point. But the last weeks I’m feeling more and more exhausted. For me this pandemic could be over yesterday. I’m more emotionally touched by things I usually wouldn’t care much about.
I’m usually not a winter blues person, but these very short days with only very little sunshine are killing me this year. Bought a daylight lamp ~ 10 days ago, that seems to boost my mood and motivation a lot.

Which item of clothing have you worn the most?

Hoodies. Not a specific one, but I have at least half a dozen of them, since they’re my prefered types of clothing.

Have you discovered any new tools?

I discovered Bullet Journaling, which helps me a lot overcoming my procrastination.


I had a 32″ curved screen on my wishlist since like forever. Working from home finally gave me the justification to get one. A really great investment. I can handle 4-6 windows on one screen, allowing me to switch between them easily or monitoring them at the same time.

Best coping mechanisms

Actually, none. Whenever there was something „bad“ caused by the pandemic (well, luckily nothing really bad happened to my loved ones or me), I told myself of how much I benefit from all the extra time because of not having to commute.

Did any songs help you cope with the year?

No song in particular.

TV shows that helped you cope

None. Although we got Netflix in March, and spending quite some time watching various shows and movies.

Who is your favourite new friend of 2020, and why is it Mira?

After the example given by many others from the testing community, this is the tweet that it all started.


Shortly followed by:


I didn’t reach out to Mira to become her learning partner, the tweet was just an idea. But we exchanged some DMs, and started to have calls every second week, and it’s fantastic!
Sometimes discussing prepared topics and sharing experiences, sometimes talking about things going on in the community, tweets & articles we read, and sometimes just chit-chat.
It always feels a bit like conference spirit.

Who is your favourite new friend of 2020, and why is it Stephan?

I met Stephan long time ago at Agile Teting Days, don’t recall when exactly, but both of us are going there for about a decade now, so potentially it’s quite a while ago.
This year brought that friendship to a new level, since he did such a great job in moderation my #agileTD session.

Who is your favourite new friend of 2020, and why is it Chris?

I met Chris during one of the wonderful online testing meetups organized by Alex, Bart & Huib.
And what should I say, how can’t you become friend with another „Back to the Future“ fan who has the same nickname as you?!

Who is your favourite new friend of 2020, and why is it Bruce?

Unfortunately, that’s friendship still to be made. But following each other on Twitter is a good starting point I think.

What’re you hoping to Get Done next year, even if it’s another 2020?

Staying healthy.

Still being committed doing bullet journaling and some sport everyday.

What have you learnt about yourself this year?

I can overcome procrastination!

Having the right tool(s), I can change my habits quite succesfully and build new ones.

Any regrets?


What have you enjoyed?

Lots of family time, online conferences, being a conference speaker.

What advice would you give to past you from January 2020?



On codeless test automation tool

Disclaimer: This is a quick brain dump, in order to have this thoughts stored somewhere to not having to retype this everytime I’m involved in a discussion about the topic. I might develop this into a full blog post one day.
Nevertheless, happy to hear your opinions on the topic.

These promises of codeless record & playback tools are around for 20+ years.
Imho, there two (or three) possibilities:

  1. You code the stuff yourself, using a real programming language + frameworks/ tools. Imho the most powerful option, but of course also the most to learn/ master. This basically is programming.
  2. You abstract all the complicated stuff away, to an extreme that also non technical people understand it, but you loose most of the power and possibilities of 1.
  3. You hide the complicated stuff behind a fancy UI, that looks shiny and easy to use in their demos, but if you want to do something that goes beyond the happy path, you still need to know & understand programming concepts. So although these tools are marketed at non-coders, the target group cannot reach the full potential of the tools.

Just my 2 cents.

Update 2021-10-05: Bas Dijkstra has written a blog post on the same topic, which is totally expressing my thoughts and believes on the topic, so I can fully recommend it to my dear readers: On codeless automation (or rather on abstraction layers)


Being productive although being tired

I asked a question on Twitter, and the amount of feedback and replies was overwhelming, and very valuable and very diverse. So for it to not be lost, I decided to blog about it.

This was the tweet:

Hey parents, asking for advice. My kid and I spend time until his bedtime at 8 pm. Then I would have time do read/learn/do stuff, but most days I'm too tired and end up with Netflix. How do you motivate to get stuff done in the evenings although feeling tired/unmotivated?

Let me give some more context about this, since I summarized and simplified to fit it all into one tweet:
I am divorced, and my 8 year old boy is with me every fortnight. For the weeks he is with his mother, I’m quite good at the „being productive“ front, I get enough stuff done. But since he is with me only „half of the time“, it’s very important for me to be with him, and spend time with him when he asks for it. If he’s busy with something on his own, I’m happy to let him be. But if he asks me to do an activity together, I only rarely deny.
Netflix was just an example everybody understands without further explanation. Could be as well reading a fantasy novel or scrolling through Twitter or whatever.

Following the condensed advice & tips I got from the replies:

It is ok to not always be productive all the time and it is ok to rest. You shouldn’t feel about that.
It is also ok to not spend 100% of your time with family and kids, but to also have some time for yourself, where you do what makes you happy, what you need.

Figure out what is your peak moment. Are you an early bird or a night owl? Adapt your schedule accordingly.

Try to change some things, for example use breaks at work to do some reading. Go to another place than home to be productive.
Although it may sound counterintuitive, do some sports to boost your energy level.

Figure out, if it’s inertia, or if you’re really too tired. Make sure that you have enough sleep to not feel tired.
To get over inertia, just start, just do. If you’re really too tired, it’s ok to rest.

Consider that there are different ways of „being productive“. Look for things that are more fun than Netflix, things you are passionate about.
Choose your activities according to that. If your brain is too tired for certain activities, watching conference talks on YouTube can be a good choice. Also, keep easy tasks for when you’re tired.

Write down and prioritize what you want to do and achieve, this way it’s easier to decide what to do.
For bigger tasks, it helps to break them down. This way you can see better, what progress you’ve made.

A lot of people mentioned habits, for example to reward good habits (allow yourself for an episode of Netflix, after you’ve worked for an hour.
You should build up habits, then you can rely on them, rather then on motivation.
To help you with that, chaining or habit stacking can help (The latter is explained in „Atomic Habits“ by James Clear).


Spreadsheets to create test execution commands

In one of my current projects, I’m using Postman to check an API product which is used by multiple clients, where each client has its own URL and specific test data to be used.
It’s about a dozen postman collections (each modelling one specific use case), and those need to be tested for about 20 different clients (number is constantly growing).

For execution in our continuous integration server, we’re using Newman (the Postman command line runner). You install the newman npm package, export the collections and environment files from Postman to your hard disk, and then can run the postman checks on your command line, or on a CI system.

A Newman command basically looks like this: newman run "collection.postman_collection.json" -e "environment.postman_environment.json"

So telling newman to run the collection collection.postman_collection.json using the data from the environment file environment.postman_environment.json.
Pretty simple and straightforward.

But remember, I need this for about 12 collections for 20 different clients. Also, each client has a sandbox, user acceptance test and production environments. In addition, the commands are slightly different in my local Windows machine, compared to the CI server, which is running on Linux.
12 collections x 20 clients x 3 environments x 2 operating systems = 1,440 commands to be written!
That’s quite a lot!

So I’m using a spreadsheet to generate the commands, since this is something that can be done pretty easily with formulas. A simplified version of my spreadsheet looks like the following:

  • Column A holds the name of the collections (without the “.postman_collection.json” extension)
  • Row 1 holds the name of the postman environments (without the “.postman_environment.json” extension)

The formula in cell B2 is ="newman run """&$A2&".postman_collection.json"" -e """&B$1&".postman_environment.json""", which is the very same as the basic Newman command I explained earlier, but it is pulling the value for the collection from cell A2, and the value for the environment from cell B1.
The $ signs are telling the spreadsheet, to not change the value followed by it, when extending the formula to other cells. When extending the formula to cell C2, we still want to get the value from A2 as the environment.
I then can easily copy the commands from the spreadsheet and paste them into my command line window or wherever I need them.
The example spreadsheet is available here: Spreadsheets to create test execution commands

Hope that this might help anyone out there to maybe save some manual work and would be interested to hear how you are using spreadsheets to ease your lifeas a tester (besides from putting your test cases in there).


[Notes] Visualizing test strategies

Yesterday there was another meetup with Alex SchladebeckHuib Schoots and Bart Knaack, where I again participated in the lean coffee facilitated by Alex.
Jesper Ottosen raised the topic of „visualizing test strategies“. Since I found that topic pretty interesting, here are my (quick) notes I took during the session, for later reference.

Mirjana Andovska is creating one page test strategies/ plans, that generally „should fit into one page“, containing answers to questions like „What type of questions are answered by which (types of) tests?“, „Which problems are being solved by doing this?“ and „When are those tests run?“
She also proposes that for reporting one nowadays can easily pull data from different sources (eg. Atlassian)

Jantien van der Meer is neither creating lengthy documents (never be read) nor mind maps (not everybody like them). She says that very often architecture diagrams of the system already exists, but usually not detailed enough as you would like them for testing. She draws similar diagrams, especially containing the things relevant for testing (eg. interfaces), then highlights those parts and shares the drawings.
Jantien mentions Sonarcube and pipelines as additional sources to pull data from for reporting.

Alex Schladebeck recommends to ask „Who’s it for? Who reads it? What info do they need?“ and proposes that different versions might be needed.

Update: Jesper adds the following two models via Twitter: Visualizing Pipelines to Help Build a Quality Culture by Lisa Crispin and Ashley Hunsberger and A new model for test strategies… (An update to the Heuristic Test Strategy Model) by Dan Ashby.


How not to feel stupid

For the second time during the corona lockdown, Alex Schladebeck, Huib Schoots and Bart Knaack organized an online get-together for testers. They offered and facilitated various activities, and during the last session, I participated in the lean coffee facilitated by Alex.
I was quite happy that one of my proposed topics got selected, but before getting to the details of the discussion, let me explain some background:

About 14 months ago, I joined Finologee as a Senior Software Tester. The role is pretty technical, with a strong focus on technical automated tests (checks). The most technical role I ever had in my 15+ years of being in testing – and I absolutely love it!
But: It’s also very challenging, which as such is not a problem – I love challenges!
It’s so many new frameworks, tools and other various technical things to discover and learn!

I think compared to most software testers, my technical background is quite strong: I did a 3 year traineeship as application developer (german “Fachinformatiker Anwendungsentwicklung”), studied informatics and during my career my focus has been test automation most of the time.Nevertheless, in that new role I feel overwhelmed from time to time: What is that framework for? How do I configure this in Maven? What does this method do? What is the most elegant way to solve that problem in code? And so on…

Quite often I’m searching Google and Stack Overflow for solutions to problems, that probably others have solve a thousand times before – or not. But I don’t want to spend hours looking for something, where there is probably good solution existing and I’m just not finding it because I don’t know the right terms to enter into that search field.
Because one important lesson I learned is “to reach out when stuck!” (shoutout to Deborah Preuss), after an unlucky search on the web, I enter my question into our company’s #dev Slack channel, and most of the times, I get a sufficient answer really quick.

Problem solved, end of story – one might think!
But everytime I ask a question there, I’m asking myself: Is this a stupid question? Should I have known that myself? What will the developers think of me for asking such a “stupid” question? And this is not really making me feel good.Yes, I know, being a software tester and being a programmer are too different roles, with somewhat overlapping, but still very different skill sets. So there’s no shame in not knowing everything, in not being as skilled in programming topics as programmers are.
Still it is bothering me way too often.

So I was happy that my proposed topic “How to not feel ‘stupid’ because as a testers we don’t have the same skillset as programmers?” was discussed during the lean coffee session.
Following things have been discussed in order to overcome this:

Find a mentor

  • find one person in the company who mentors you
  • it’s not “embarrassing” if you’re officially mentored and asking something compared to asking your question in a slack channel with every developer

Embrace the fact you have „gefährliches Halbwissen“ (knowing just enough to be dangerous)

  • it might be enough knowledge about a tool/ framework to get done what you need to do at the moment

Embrace that you have different skills

  • Testers and programmers have different skill sets, both are valuable
  • You probably know more when it comes to testing, and programmers can learn about testing from you

You’ve been hired for a reason

  • The company hiring you did see something in you
  • They have seen other candidates, and decided you’re the best to get the job done

Embrace what you don’t know

  • It’s ok to not know everything

Pair with people

  • It’s a great chance for learning.
  • Even if you don’t know much about the code, you will learn something.
  • Also the programmer will learn by the questions that you ask

My favorite Agile Testing Days moment

I got invited to write a guest blog post on the Agile Testing Days blog about My favorite Agile Testing Days moment.


git: Show all changes by a user on a certain folder

To show all commits for a certain user on the current branch: git log --author=JohnDoe

To show all commits for a certain folder: git log -- path/to/folder

No combine these two commands: git log --author=JohnDoe -- path/to/folder

To keep it more readable, you can also add --oneline, to only show the commit hash and title.

PS.: It´s important to leave a blank between -- and /path/to/folder!


SoapUI TearDown Script not working

I had a case where a TearDown Script in SoapUI (version 5.5.0, community edition) was not working at all, neither on test case or test suite, nor on project level, whereas the Setup Script was working on all three levels.

Since I didn´t find a solution browsing the web, I´m sharing how to overcome this here:

On top of the script window, there´s a green arrow to manually start the execution of a script. Simply press that button – it might fail and result in a popup with an error message, but in my case that solved the issue, the TearDown Script now also got executed after running a test case, test suite or all suites in a project

Run the TearDown Script

Not sure it helps in your case as well, but you might want to try it out.


Un-just yourself

On Agile Testing Days 2019, Damian Synadinos gave a keynote with the topic „More Than That“. His basic message was, everybody could put more than one „label“ on herself. We’re more then testers or developers, we’re also human beings, parents, children, husbands, wifes, players, musicians… and so on.

Another important advice Damian gave is „un-just yourself“. And he means that we should not make ourselves small. We’re not „just“ testers; we are testers. That resonated strongly with myself, already during that talk.

Why? I think I’m using „just“ way too often. For example at work, when I’ve filed a bug, and a developer or project manager approaches me and asks: „How the heck did you spot that? That’s such a difficult thing to find!“, I used to reply „I’ve just done my job.“.  And thanks to Damian I now have a totally new perspective on that: I found that bug by doing my job, by being a tester. I’m in that field for nearly 15 years, I learned it, from the ground, attented trainings, workshops, meetups & conferences, I’m reading books & blogs, I’m practicing testing to constantly get better at it.

I’m a professional software tester, that’s why I’m able to spot that difficult-to-find-bug, that a lot of other people would not have found. I’m a tester, not „just“ a tester.

After that talk, during visiting other talks at the conference, I noticed how often other speakers were using „just“ in their talks, and by that diminuishing something they did, they achieved. By that, people are also making their own achievements make appear smaller than they actually are. Also, most probably, this is not good for one’s own self-confidence.

I even think that’s my most important takeaway from this year’s Agile Testing Days: Un-just yourself!

See also what labels Stephan Kämper is putting on himself: Calling Me Names — New Labels