My review of Romanian Testing Conference 2022 (RTC2022)

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I visited the Romanian Testing Conference (RTC) 2022 in Cluj-Napoca, Romania and presented my talk "Smoke Tests and Mirrors - the Magic in Test Automation" there. This is my review of the conference, taking place 16th-17th of June.

This was my second visit to Romania but my first time in Cluj. I have been to Bucharest before to visit the large Ubisoft studio there while I was still working for them.

Location of Cluj-Napoca in Romania
Location of Cluj-Napoca in Romania

2022-06-16 - Conference Day

I arrived there early afternoon (my flight route was from Düsseldorf airport to Warsaw and then Warsaw to Cluj) and went to the very impressive conference hotel first. It was the Grand Hotel Italia, a massive 5-star hotel located on a hill, about a 25 minute drive away from the airport. The speakers were also accommodated there, so there was nothing to complain about.

Conference hotel
Conference hotel

Since the first conference day was a workshop day and I did not attend (or host) any, I had some free time. So I walked downtown and checked out the shopping areas, street cafés and the large Central Park.

Impression of Cluj
Impression of Cluj

After walking back to the hotel - which was longer than I thought due to having to walk uphill all the time - I rehearsed my talk one final time and practiced the two magic tricks i wanted to include again and again.

2022-06-17 - Presentation Day

The main part of "Romanian Testing Conference" is one day of presentations in a two-track format. So apart from the keynotes, all participants get to choose between two different talks happening at the same time in two separate conference rooms.

This format has a big pro and a big con at the same time. On the one hand, if you don't like a specific topic, there is always an alternative for you to watch. On the other hand, you miss out on 50 percent of great content.

Additionally, the talks were streamed to all participants who chose to watch online instead of attending the in-person event. Also, it was possible for the remote viewers to ask questions via slido. Because of a three camera setup for proper streaming (plus, some camera operators that had to move in sync with the speakers), this could sometimes block the views of some on-site visitors.

The meeting rooms themselves were fairly typical, with rows of normal chairs. Unfortunately, there was no real stage or a slight raising for the presenters - which made the magic trick part of my presentation a little harder to handle than imagined.

Connor Fitzgerald presenting
Connor Fitzgerald presenting his session on 'As testers, do we do more harm than good?'

The Presentations

In the following, I would like to briefly discuss the talks that I saw.

Keynote "Reality Driven Testing" by Rob Sabourin

This session was a strong plea to test the relevant things that our application users do with it. Rob Sabourin was an excellent speaker who used the right balance of quality content and emotional hooks to get his points across.

"Software Quality and human factors – our next challenge" by Andrew Brown

Andrew Brown illustrated that many IT projects are bound to fail. This has been the case for many decades without those responsible having learned much from it. He then proceeded to explain why that is, taking us back to the times humans used to live in caves. This was a very interesting journey into the origins of human thinking that made one question how anything can work at all.

My Own Talk "Smoke Tests and Mirrors - the Magic in Test Automation"

When Andrew's talk was finished, I did not attend the next one in order to get ready for mine. And after an opulent lunch buffet, it was time to enter the stage.

I will refrain from criticizing my own performance. Let others do that. But I had a good feeling about it and it was fun to speak in front of real people again after such a long time.

"Mastering the Mana System – How I recovered my enthusiasm for testing" by Claudiu-Marian Stoianof

This talk was the standout one for me at this conference. It was Claudiu's first ever conference talk but after a few minutes of nervousness, there was soon hardly any sign of it. His story was the scientific reappraisal of his descent into burnout and how he got back out of it. He told very honestly about how he noticed that something was going wrong and gave many tips on how to recognize and treat it. Through his many comparisons to video games, this unfortunately often neglected topic became very vivid.

"As testers, do we do more harm than good?" - Conor Fitzgerald

I only knew Connor as one of my Twitter acquaintances before, so this conference was a nice opportunity to finally meet in person. You could see that he has quite some experience as a speaker and I found his session very engaging. He showed situations in which testers might not really help in the software development lifecycle and promoted the idea of modern testing. Also, his overarching story of how he turned from an executor of test cases to a "test partner" and finally an influencer was really relatable and interesting.

"Automation Addiction" by Huib Schoots and Paul Holland

Huib and Paul are very well-known among the testing scene and gave a high-energy presentation on automation and the myths surrounding it. They took apart advertising promises of automation tools and showed that good automation can help in the software development process but that it is not a panacea - certainly not if it is done badly and based on lies just to please management. When they present, there is absolutely no sign of any nervousness which is something to strive for.

Closing Speech by Paul Holland

Paul spent the last minutes going live to the new conference chair for 2023, Lena Pejgan, who unfortunately could not attend the conference due to Corona. Unfortunately, the technology didn't quite work, so there were long pauses and no real conversation. Nevertheless, it was a nice way to end the conference.

After the Conference

The rest of the day, most of us speakers went downtown together, walked around the city and had dinner at the "Klausenburger" restaurant from which you have a very nice view across the city.

Rooftop view of Cluj
Rooftop view of Cluj

2022-06-18 - Return Trip

On Saturday, it was time to fly back home - due to some plane and train delays, this took two hours longer than before. However, it was totally worth it being part of this great conference.

I very much hope that I can be there again next year - as a speaker or visitor. Then I would definitely like to see a bit more of the sights.

Thanks to the program committee and the organizers for giving me the chance to speak there and making my stay so pleasant.

Goodbye and "La revedere"!

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