Firefox 4 Launch Party, Cluj-Napoca, Romania – May 3rd, 2011

Last week the Mozilla QA team, specifically Juan Becerra, Tony Chung, Henrik Skupin, David Burns and I, went on a European road trip.  One of the main purposes of the trip was for us to get out there and talk to folks about Mozilla and Firefox 4 from the perspective of what we do in the QA world. The trip was a double European city tour with the first stop being Cluj, Romania and the remainder of the trip spent in London where Mozilla hosted a meetup of local software test professionals. Dave Hunt, a local U.K. based Mozillian and all-star test automation engineer, helped setup this very successful London event. He also wrote a great blog post on the meetup.

But this post is about all the happenings in Cluj Romania. I’m sure some folks are wondering why the Mozilla QA team decided to go to Romania and be part of the fantastic Firefox 4 Launch Party in Cluj. Well, it certainly wasn’t arbitrary. During this last year we have been working closely with an outsourced QA team that have been very helpful to us with the testing and release of Firefox 4. Therefore, I thought it was high time we meet them in person. The QA team is from the Romanian company Softvision  based in Cluj who we work through via a local U.S. company called Waverley Software. The folks from Softvision were co-sponsors and took care of all the local details for the Cluj launch party. They blogged, tweeted and posted the event on just about every web site in Romania. They scheduled the venue at a very nice hotel and quickly had 100 registered attendees. I worked with Mary Colvig, Alexandria Aranoff and Romanian community member Alina Mierlus to ensure that they got all the Mozilla party goods and swag that they needed. Before we left, I was confident that things were well taken care of. However, I nor anyone of the Mozilla QA Team had actually been to Romania, so it was somewhat unknown just what were getting into.

Cluj Romania is a beautiful European city with a laid-back feel. However, it is also quite vibrant since it is the university hub of Romania with lots of students strolling about the streets. The hospitality of our Softvision partners was warm and welcoming. We arrived late Saturday night.  After breakfast on Sunday, several members of the Softvision team gave us a walking tour of the city ending with a great meal at an authentic Romanian restaurant. We spent Monday and Tuesday in engaging and productive meetings exploring better ways to work together. The launch party was set to start at 5:30p Tuesday eve. We arrived early, and I was quite impressed with the fantastic setup in the Golden Tulip event room.  All the Firefox party goods were laid out; there was a great buffet of tasty treats and a table with wine and Romanian beer for all to enjoy. Everything was ready for a great launch party. But, of course, there were some last minute A/V cliches where my laptop wouldn’t connect to the wifi or the event audio system. But again, thanks to our hosts, all was fixed and I was able to give a short presentation that included the Firefox branding video (most awesome Mozilla video ever.) I also sort of cheated a bit in the presentation to keep it short. Since Johnathan Nightingale the director of Firefox Engineering is the undisputed master at presenting Firefox 4 in all it’s glory in under 3 minutes, why not show his video too. The presentation went well and I believe it got the crowd excited about Firefox 4. There were a number of questions after the presentation, and this was followed by demos and one-on-one discussions with the QA Team. This went on for a couple of hours with lots of interesting conversations and  crowds gathered around laptops and mobile devices looking at the various features demonstrated by the team.

Of course, we couldn’t have a Firefox 4 launch party without a cake and the one at this party was absolutely fantastic. The cake was flanked by two roman candles, and it was certainly a highlight of the party. And oh-my-god it was some of the tastiest cake ever. After the cake we had a raffle for  three really cool Firefox back packs. The event went on well past nine and the party then continued at some other undisclosed locations :-).

This was my first Firefox launch party, and it will be hard to top. It was a just a fantastic evening and special thanks go to Diana Parau and Nicoleta Iudean of Softvision who out did themselves in arranging and setting up the event. I also want to thank our host Ady Beleanu who took care of us from start to finish. I still haven’t decided if he is a more skilled driver or project manager. He is amazing at both! The party was well photographed and links to the pics are listed below. I really had no idea what to expect before arriving in Romania. However, in every sense, our trip to Cluj was a great success and I certainly left with a feeling that the Romanian Mozilla Community spirit is alive, well and growing. Viva Firefox 4!

Matt Evans
Mozilla QA Director

Ady Beleanu Pics
Henrik Skupin Pics
Matt Evans Pics

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GTAC 2010, Hyderabad India

This blog entry has been in my queue for quite some time. But here it is now. Late last October I attended the 5th annual Google Test Automation Conference. The GTAC conferences are held in different cities every year and this year it was held in Hyderabad, India on Oct 28th and 29th. This was quite an adventure as it was my 1st trip to India. I had submitted a talk proposal way back in July with the title “Crowd Source Testing, Mozilla Style“.

Given that the conference was geared more towards test automation, I had little expectation that it would be selected. But an email from Google in late July invited me to come to the other side of globe to talk about how we do crowd sourced testing here at Mozilla. I was pretty excited about the prospect, but at they same time it gave me some trepidation because I haven’t done a whole lot of public speaking lately and I wasn’t to sure how I was going to translate the abstract given above into 50 minute talk with lots of slick graphs and poignant thought provoking slides. Not too mention, I was plenty busy with managing the Mozilla QA team and working on Firefox 4 beta releases. After some weekends creating slides, interviewing various folks and practice sessions with the team I got my GTAC talk together and I was ready for the trip to India.

India is a long trip from Mt. View, CA. About ~19 hours in the air. I decided to get there a couple days early so I could be somewhat recovered from jetlag. When I arrived there was some confusion as to where I would stay for the 1st day of my trip. Fortunately, Google put me up at their Google House where visiting Googlers stay. Very nice accommodations and I was fortunate to meet and hang out with James Whitaker who is pretty famous in the testing world for his book series on How to break software and exploratory testing. His talk on the value of late stage manual testing is quite compelling and he is also a very entertaining speaker.

The conference took place at the Novotel conference center near Hitech city in Hyderbad. It was spread over two days with only around 180 attending. The attendance is purposely kept low to allow for more interaction amongst the attendees and speakers. It seemed to be just the right mix of presentations, lighting talks and keynote speeches. There were some very interesting talks and presentations given. If you haven’t seen them, all of the presentations are recorded on youtube. My talk on crowd sourcing is located here. I think it went fairly well, but seeing and hearing yourself perform just doesn’t quite come off right.  Also the cut aways to the slides show a very badly rendered version of the slides for some reason. A good copy of the slides are located here.

At any rate the conference was a great success in my opinion. I think the conversations and interactions among everyone present is what makes this such a unique and worthwhile event to attend. In fact I did have a lot of conversations with an attendee Matt Brandt. Surprisingly, he paid his own way from Colorado to attend this event. He made an impression that he would be a great fit to our Mozilla QA team so I invited him to interview at Mozilla in December. I am pleased he will be joining Mozilla’s Web QA team later in January.

After leaving India I stopped over in London for a few days where Mozilla QA hosted along with Google, a local selenium meetup. Thanks to Dave Hunt for putting this on and there was lots of good talks from the Mozilla QA team; Henrik Skupin, Stephen Donner and David Burns. And of course Simon Stewart from Google who always steals the show.

So it was a very successful trip. I certainly hope to do more traveling next year to promote what we do here at Mozilla QA. What I want to capture from the GTAC conference is the sense that the Mozilla Firefox is the platform of choice for doing test automation and experimentation for automated testing. I certainly got a sense of that from talking to folks at the GTAC conference and the meetup in London. A theme I want to amplify in 2011.

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Make Firefox Better?

Recently Marcia Knous and I sat down with Mark Surman the Director of Drumbeat. Drumbeat is a world-wide effort to educate folks about the open web and how anyone can participate in this endeavor. A truly noble goal that fully supports Mozilla’s mission; promote openness, innovation, and opportunity on the web.

It was my first meeting with Mark and the focus was to explore ideas how Mozilla QA and Drumbeat can be more aligned and promote both of our efforts. Mozilla QA is all about testing and assessing the quality of Mozilla products such as Firefox, Fennec and Thunderbird. Our testing community has been helping us get through major product releases since the very early days of the Mozilla project. But let’s be frank, test execution, test case development  and the related activities such as bug triage and bug verification can be rather unglamorous and tedious. Finding and reporting bugs in nightly, alpha and beta builds can be rewarding and challenging to some folks for sure, but that is probably a minority slice of the Mozilla community. Mark, in his thoughtful way, expressed that folks who are willing to do this for us are expressing their desire to make Firefox better. They may not have the skills to write a patch, so testing is where they can contribute the most and they will do so to make Firefox a better product. Wow, it really hit me how much I felt he was right about this. Strongly promoting and messaging this connection of testing and making Firefox and our other products better  to the broader community and those who may want to help Mozilla, should in theory increase the participation in our testing efforts.

Mozilla has an advantage in that many people around the world believe in the goals of the project and specifically want to be involved in making our products better. There is a huge loyalty to Firefox and we are seeing both long time fans and new users wanting to discover how they can help and contribute. Asking the Mozilla community to help us test Firefox has met with mixed results over the years. Some people get it that these efforts are key to a successful release of Firefox, but I think we could do more to point out that testing Firefox makes it better. Finding a bug, reporting it to a developer and verifying it has been fixed is an absolutely direct way to improving Firefox and increasingly important these days, a more competitive product.

Community software developers have a pretty clear avenue to making a positive impact on the product; develop an accepted patch that implements a new feature or fixes a bug. If you do this successfully several times, you are on your way to Mozilla rock star status. You have made Firefox better. Testing on the other hand, needs more communication and messaging to demonstrate to the wider community just how equally valuable these contributions are. Maybe not quite as visible as that awesome newly landed patch, but still worthy of crowds of appreciative fans holding up their glowing cell phones and chanting  for an encore.

In fact it is my goal for Mozilla QA over the next few quarters to focus on this theme to ensure everyone knows that testing and related activities make our products better. In addition, we need to fully recognizing folks who are making Firefox and all other Mozilla products better through participation in test and bug days, checking out the latest nightly build or discovering the steps to reproduce some nasty crash bug. So, come on, lets all rollup our sleeves, get up on stage and make Firefox better for us and everyone else on the planet.

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