I was honored to be asked to present a half-day tutorial and track session at QAI's Quest 2017 Conference last week in Chicago.
I have spoken at testing conferences since 1989, with only two years since then that I have sat out a year. So, I've been to a lot of these rodeos worldwide. In fact, I chaired the QAI International Software Testing Conference (1995 - 2000), so I know what it takes to keep everything on track.
It's from that background that I write this. My intent is not to take away from any other conference. I also have conferences on the schedule yet for this year.
By the way, this blog post was not solicited. I just feel that when someone does a great job, recognition is deserved.
I was blown away by this conference for several reasons:
Outstanding management - Tom Ticknor, Nancy Kastl, Anna Zucker and the rest of the team did a great job of making sure everything ran like clockwork. The weather turned rather bad on Wednesday (40F, 40 - 50 mph winds and rain), so the planned dinner cruise was still held on the boat, but it was enclosed and we never left the dock. It was also very challenging to get a few hundred people on busses and over to Navy Pier, but we all made it and a good time was had by all!
Outstanding volunteers - All the track hosts and other volunteers did a great job. In my experience, you can't pull off a great conference without great volunteers to make sure all the little things are handled. Thanks much to Kenneth Brown, who was my track host for both sessions. You rock!
A strong sense of community - I felt like I was among friends - and I was. In fact, in some cases, it was like old home week to see friends from the past QAI and CQAA events. I was able to strike up conversations with everyone I met. This was not a huge conference in terms of attendance, but for me it was just the right size - not too big, not too small.
Wide representation - This was not just a local Chicago event. There were people from much of the USA there, as well as from about a dozen other countries.
Great sessions - From the keynotes to the track sessions, I did not experience a bad session. Good content plus good speaking ability equals a great session. Also, the selection of topics was wide enough to cover just about anyone's topics of interest.
Solid content - Speaking of content, one of the things that concerns me about the current state of testing is that we are taking our eyes off the main thing - testing and quality. Most testers think QA and testing are the same thing (they aren't). One thing that was striking to me was that in every session I attended, the concepts were solid, with very practical ways to apply the ideas.
Awesome food - I can't say I ever had filet mignon for lunch at a conference before, but I did last week. I don't fly for the dining experience, and I don't expect a lot from conference fare, but really - bacon and eggs for breakfast every day? That's good stuff. Plus, the dinner cruise food was very good. Kudos to the Renaissance hotel for the preparation and for the Quest team for the menu selections.
Informative expo - The reality is most vendors go to the larger conferences because that is where the numbers are. But, how many of those people are the decision makers? I spoke with most of the vendors in the expo and found that they all had great offerings. I expect there were a fair number of decision-makers at the conference.
The negatives? I can't think of any.
I highly recommend this conference to anyone looking for any of the above things. If you are in the software testing or software quality field and live in the mid-west, attending the Quest Conference is a no-brainer. I hope to attend again in the future!