One month ago, we organized and hosted the Mobile Testing Summit, a one day conference devoted to all things about mobile test automation. In reflecting on this event (which, I must say, went swimmingly well), I thought I'd pull back the curtain and give you a look at how it came to be and what we all got out of it. The idea for the MTS started with Jason Huggins, Sauce's cofounder and CTO, in July 2011. Jason is our idea guy and he's always coming up with new (and, at times, crazy) things to work on, whether it's pushing for the development of Sauce TV, a feature that lets you watch live video of your test running in the Sauce cloud or building Appibot (née BitBeambot), a Selenium testing robot that sits on your desk and tests your mobile devices (and plays Angry Birds when off duty). When he shared his vision for the Summit that day in July, I enthusiastically told him we should make it happen. Having recently organized the inaugural Selenium Conference, I was ready to get my hands dirty with another big-scale dev event. And since mobile testing was especially new that summer, the topic felt ripe for the picking. We spent that afternoon bouncing thoughts around and getting pumped to pull it off. And then…nothing happened. As much excitement as that initial conversation garnered, I think we both started to question whether the timing was right. After all, Sauce didn't have anything related to mobile testing in our service at the time and there were only a handful of related open source projects, many of which were in their infancy. But the Mobile Testing Summit proved to be the little idea that could, and it stayed in the back of our heads until the following spring when Dante Briones (who later came on as co-organizer) got wind of it and encouraged us to go forward. By then, the Saucers were all hands on deck putting Mac & mobile into the cloud for our customers, and projects such as Frank, Calabash, and Firefox OS were getting considerable attention. Plus, we knew there was interest by the number of people writing in to the Sauce’s help desk asking for mobile. So, this time, we did. The vision was simple. Get all the awesome developers working on open source mobile test automation tools together in one room to talk. We wanted to hear about the key challenges everyone faced and why he or she chose a certain approach. And we wanted to come up with a roadmap for mobile test automation and see if there was cohesion amongst projects. After deciding on the size of the Summit (80 people seemed about right to foster meaningful conversations), we started asking around to see who might like to participate. As it turned out, folks were ready for an event just like this. It wasn't long before we had confirmation from all the speakers we asked, and had sold out. With sponsorship from the likes of Facebook, eBay and others, we decided to open up another 50 tickets and those went quickly too. Which meant one thing…the Mobile Testing Summit was actually happening. And though it veered a bit from our original vision, what resulted this past November was even better than what we imagined. Not only did attendees get an introduction to some of the best tools for testing an iOS or Android app, they also got an inside look at how companies such as Facebook test their heavily used hybrid mobile app. They got to see how Mozilla is handling test automation for its new Firefox OS and how Sikuli, an open source project that uses image recognition to identify and control GUI components, can be used to test with mobile. Attendees got to spend the day chatting with kindred spirits in the mobile automation space, and speakers got to liaison with other devs pioneering this niche market. Projects were merged, feedback was shared, and a mailing list was started to keep the conversation going well after the Summit ended. Basically, the start of a new community was born.
Given the success of this first event, you can guess we've already got our sights set on another Mobile Testing Summit next summer. We will keep some things the same, such as putting together a varied mix of speakers, catering from a local food favorite like Bi-Rite (which was de-LISH), and picking a venue that is equally artsy and conference atypical as the Terra Gallery was. And we are thinking about how we can change some things up too, like perhaps extending the event over two days, putting out a call for proposals while also inviting certain speakers, adding a workshop / hack session and building in even more time for conversing and idea sharing.
We are excited to see where the community will be in 9 months time (no doubt a lot will change) and we hope you’ll join us for the second Mobile Testing Summit. If you’re curious to know what was covered at this year’s event, be sure to check out the videos, slides, and Jason’s keynote address. Happy (mobile) testing!
The Sauce crew at the MTS after party