Interview with Mark Winteringham
In his own words, here’s a bit about Mark Winteringham:
I am a tester, coach, mentor, teacher and international speaker, presenting workshops and talks on technical testing techniques. I’ve worked on award winning projects across a wide variety of technology sectors ranging from broadcast, digital, financial and public sector working with various Web, mobile and desktop technologies.
I’m an expert in technical testing and test automation and a passionate advocate of risk-based automation and automation in testing practices which I regularly blog about at mwtestconsultancy.co.uk and the co-founder of the Software Testing Clinic. in London, a regular workshop for new and junior testers to receive free mentoring and lessons in software testing. I also have a keen interest in various technologies, developing new apps and Internet of thing devices regularly. You can get in touch with me on Twitter: @2bittester
I noticed that the next event for Software Testing Clinic is sold out for both mentors and students - any plans to expand in the near future?
Yes we are! Dan and I are still surprised by the level of interest from Students and Mentors that have attended sessions and the support from our sponsors and Ministry of Testing. There’s definitely a demand for SWTCs around the UK and Europe and we’ve had a lot of people asking us to set one up in their area. So we do have plans to expand.
We’re starting a second Software testing clinic in Glasgow in June and it’s being run by Tracey Baxter (@tbaxter78) and Del Dewar (@deefex) who are awesome testers and I think they are a great fit for SWTC. The interest in the Glasgow sessions so far is pretty good and it has the potential to be as popular as SWTC London, so that’s a real encouragement towards future SWTCs.
We’re also using SWTC Glasgow as a bit of an experiment to see what happens when someone else runs our sessions and what is required from myself and Dan to help support multiple SWTCs. We want to get into a position that we can provide lesson plans and online content on The Ministry of Testing Dojo to those that who want to start up their own SWTC. So if Glasgow is a success then expect to see more SWTCs in the future!
When you’ve run API testing workshops with people who are brand new to API testing, what are the most common questions people ask? Do any of their questions surprise you?
A lot of attendees have an assumption that learning to work with APIs and HTTP requires a technical background or knowledge. There’s a lot of questions about tools and Automation to begin with, and whilst you require some sort of tool to fire off HTTP requests, the rest is really about Test Design, Mental Models, Heuristics and knowing when to leverage APIs to your advantage.
I do also get asked a lot about getting into API testing outside of training events and I always point them towards Katrina Kloke’s “API, Web Services & Microservices Testing Pathway”. It’s comprehensive, well laid out and very useful. It’s so good that I’m a little bit jealous that I didn’t write it!
How did you get started with running workshops and speaking at conferences?
It was a bit of accident, to be honest. Right up to about a year before I started speaking and teaching I suffered from a disorder called ‘Spasmodic Dysphonia’ and a consequence of that was that I spoke with a falsetto voice which made it hard to talk and affected my confidence. For a long time, I didn’t do anything about it but it was getting to the point where I was losing my voice on a daily basis, so I decided to get voice therapy to help.
I decided as part of the process I would endeavour to do at least one talk at London Tester Gathering that I had just started to attend. So I gave my talk and found I enjoyed it. After that, I was encouraged by Tony Bruce to do a workshop at London Tester Gathering Workshops, which was a big hit and I got hooked on teaching and mentoring after that. It’s really helped boost my confidence, understand Testing more and brought so many great people into my life.
I’ve enjoyed reading your How-to posts in your blog, what prompts you to write them? (e.g. you needed to start working on that and thought you’d document how, or you recently got lots of questions on the topic)
I’m a big advocate for Automation in Testing, although when I started blogging I hadn’t come across the term. I wanted to write about how to create tools to help support testing rather than just focus on how to do X with WebDriver. So some of the blogs come from tools that I have built in the past that I want to share and some have come from observations of others working in the Automation space.
I’ve also started using blog posts in my training, based on questions from those who have attended previous training. Attendees can then browse them during the session and follow steps to help them get tools setup or use them as cheat sheets. I find it helps free me up from going through setup issues with attendees so I can focus on the softer skills, for example, Test Design.
For the potential mentors at your SWTC, how do they know they can be a mentor? Any indication to know someone is good enough/senior enough to take on that role?
We don’t have any official requirements so technically anyone can come and be a mentor. However, we’ve recently put together a page on what skills other SWTC Mentors feel are required to be a Mentor at SWTC, and we encourage new Mentors to take a look at it: http://www.softwaretestingclinic.com/swtc-mentor-guide/.
For me, the key element to becoming a Mentor is the desire to become one. SWTC isn’t just about teaching students, it’s a place for new mentors to practices their skills without judgement. We’ve had a lot of people come as students with 5 to 10 years experience and realised quite quickly they know what they are talking about when it comes to Testing and have moved into a Mentor role, it’s all about having confidence in your own abilities.