Recap: Selenium 2015 Conference

Posted Oct 5th, 2015

Portland, Oregon is surrounded by green forests. It’s a bike-friendly city, with an abundance of craft beer, and despite the rain it's where everyone wants to be. The Selenium Conference Committee wisely picked beautiful Portland for this year’s conference. Image Source: Test the Web Forward
Image source: Test the Web Forward

Going to conferences always energizes me. It rejuvenates my focus and determination. Why? I discover new concepts from some of the best in the industry, while networking with conference attendees. One of the best ways to build automation knowledge is to attend the Selenium conference. The attendees this year were extremely technical, and everyone was willing to have conversations about their Selenium journeys.

Pre-Conference Workshops

The pre-workshop Selenium lineup this year was rock solid. The all-day session ranged from beginner to seasoned, and some of the topics covered included:

  • Selenium Grid
  • Mobile Automation with Appium
  • Getting Started with Selenium
  • Fix a Bug, Become a Committer

It takes a lot of hard work to develop a good workshop, and each workshop offering will require some initial setup on your machine. Hats off to the Selenium Conference’s committee, who encouraged everyone to complete the setup requirements in advance of the sessions participants planned to attend. (I have attended technical workshops in the past where we would spend the entire morning setting up our environment.)

Image Source: OpenCredo

Image Source: OpenCredo

Jonathan Lipps kicked off the Mobile Automation with Appium workshop by reviewing the architecture along with the good, bad, the ugly, and the future of Appium. What a great way to start a workshop with one of the lead contributors of Appium! Here are some highlights from the workshop:

  • Discussions about industry trends for mobile solutions
  • Device cloud offerings
  • Automation tools for mobile
  • How to find elements for mobile applications
  • Automate the Kayak app by searching for flights and scrolling through the results
  • Add Sauce Labs integration to run tests in device cloud
  • Create a Jenkins job to run Appium tests against Sauce Labs’ device cloud.
  • Session helpers from Sauce Labs answered general questions and helped with configuration and scripting throughout the entire workshop.

To my surprise, we went through the workshop agenda and almost everyone completed all workshop activities. It is always a great feeling to have a physical working example at the end of the day. If you want to learn more about the Appium project, check out the roadmap.

Highlights from the Selenium Sessions

Keynote - Selenium State of the Union

Simon Stewart’s Selenium State of the Union was fantastic. Here’s a brief summary: People love their phones, and they’re convenient, which means mobile apps aren’t going away. Writing a mobile native app is super challenging and that app needs to be tested. iOS is still problematic and incredibly slow. To address the slowness, Facebook developed WebDriverAgent for iOS native applications. The WebDriverAgent is a WebDriver server for iOS that runs inside the Simulator and is written entirely in Objective-C. By running on the device,it will remove tons of middle layers, making it much faster. There’s no way I could cover everything from this keynote. I recommend everyone check out the recorded video to learn about how end-to-end testing is unstable, and slow — among a multitude of other great points made by Mr. Stewart.

To Deploy, or Not to Deploy? Decide Using Test Trend Analyzer (TTA)

The future of Selenium needs to focus more on automation analytics. How does your test automation stack up against the testing pyramid? If you’re curious, check out Test Trend Analyzer tool.

Source: To Deploy, or Not to Deploy? Decide Using Test Trend Analyzer (TTA) slides

Source: To Deploy, or Not to Deploy? Decide Using Test Trend Analyzer (TTA) slides

2020 Testing

Denali Lumma delivered a glimpse of the future talking about 2020 Testing. The session compared many scenarios where elite companies are the minority versus the common is the majority. (For instance, the majority thinks about infrastructure LAST, and the minority considers it FIRST.)

Lightning Talks

I am a big fan of Lightning Talks, which are a series of short 5-minute presentations by conference attendees. Some highlights:

  • The future needs to focus more on analytics to allow us to improve
  • Microsoft is heavily involved and implementing the W3C standards into their webdriver
  • A deeper dive into libraries: Facebook open source for iOS, WebDriverAgent and FBSimulatorControl
  • How to set up a Mobile Testing Grid by Wunderlist

Advanced Automated Visual Testing With Selenium

What is visual testing? It is a QA activity aimed to verify that the GUI appears correctly across all devices and browsers. Adam Carmi talked about Advanced Automated Visual Testing With Selenium using Applitools. Here is an example where visual testing would have benefited Amazon. Source: Advanced Automated Visual Testing With Selenium slides

Source: Advanced Automated Visual Testing With Selenium slides

A Year of Implementing Ideas from #SeConf14

This was a session that I think should be presented at the Selenium Conference every year! It would be a perfect coding challenge for everyone that attended #SeConf15.

The Mobile JSON Wire Protocol (MJSONWP)

Jonathan Lipps presented a technical exploration of HTTP protocols and how they work, along with an excellent explanation of MJSONWP.

Keynote - Curing Imposter Syndrome

The last day’s keynote was presented by Denali Lumma, titled Curing Imposter Syndrome. It was well-delivered, and even included a meditation exercise. It’s a genuine possibility that the majority of people working in technology are suffering from Imposter Syndrome. It’s a real phenomenon across all creative fields. And the highs of success and feelings of self-doubt have a real place in tech, too.


Overall, I thought my first Selenium Conference was incredibly useful, and I discovered a few new ideas. It included a lot of Selenium developers and enthusiasts from around the world, as well as possible ideas to implement, and offered a real glimpse into the future of the Selenium project. If you didn’t get a chance to attend this year’s conference, I hope this post energizes you to attend next year. #SeConf15

Greg Sypolt (@gregsypolt) is a senior engineer at Gannett and co-founder of Quality Element. He is a passionate automation engineer seeking to optimize software development quality, while coaching team members on how to write great automation scripts, and helping the testing community become better testers. Greg has spent most of his career working on software quality – concentrating on web browsers, APIs, and mobile. For the past 5 years he has focused on the creation and deployment of automated test strategies, frameworks, tools, and platforms.

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