For a year that started so much like any other it’s looking like it’s going to end with a bang. I wanted to briefly write about some of the things I’m really proud of and some of the things I’m excited to be a part of going into 2018.

January - April

The year started off fairly quiet, but as the months passed something changed. I no longer felt challenged or happy in my job and so started to look for new opportunities. After speaking with a number of companies and having a few offers I decided after 7 years to move away from full stack development in order to focus on an area I’ve always been involved in but not had much time to build up my knowledge or skills in - software testing.

May

May 2017 I was very fortunate to be offered two opportunities at the same time, both very different but within test. After thinking long and hard I decided to join a company which had always supported meetups I organise and SwanseaCon, a developer conference I organise (http://www.swanseacon.co.uk) as well as offering me the chance to work as part of an R&D team, helping develop great products with opportunities to build test frameworks, work with accessibility and mobile testing.

In May I also attended my first DDD (Developer Developer Developer) conference - DDD South West, in Bristol (http://www.dddsouthwest.com) as a friend (http://www.twitter.com/welshdave) was giving his first conference talk there. At this event there was a session on test automation and a question was raised how to extend the example further to do some sort of visual checking using images. It turned out nobody in the room really knew the answer and that was it… It was this little seed which has grown and create so many opportunities.

May - July

During the next few months I probably wrote more c# code in my new test role than I did in my last 6 months as a full stack developer with my previous employer. I had an opportunity to start to write a visual test framework amongst other test tools to help the testing capability, and start to think about ways to improve test automation.

It was during this time I decided it may be a good idea to share this idea with the community not only to help them think about new ways to test UI but as a way to gather more feedback to help refine the framework I was trying to build. I decided to submit a talk to a DDD event (http://www.dddeastanglia.com) and just a month or two later I got the news I had been accepted to give my first conference talk which would be in September 2017 - ‘Spot the difference; automating visual regression testing’.

August

August I started to panic, there was just once month to go until I was to give my first conference talk. After running a meetup for nearly 4 years, apart from brief introductions I’d never spoken at length or given a talk and I’d certainly never given a talk at a developer conference. I was very fortunate in August the speaker we’d arranged pulled out the meetup the evening before so this was a great opportunity to test out the talk. After giving the talk I received some great feedback which enabled me to refine the talk. I managed to get two more opportunities at work to run the same session at a lunch and learn and also to the back end chapter.

September

September I gave my first talk at the DDD East Anglia conference in Cambridge (http://vivrichards.co.uk/events/dddea2017).

Two weeks later I was running the third SwanseaCon conference. I managed to meet some old friends (Stephen, Sander, Christos, Kim, Marcello, Haley… to many to mention…) as well as meet some new ones including Kevlin Henney (https://twitter.com/kevlinhenney), Seb Rose (https://twitter.com/sebrose), Rich Bradshaw (https://twitter.com/FriendlyTester) again I met many more new awesome people to many to mention… (https://twitter.com/11vlr/following) which was awesome. It was during this events social evening it was sadly announced I didn’t think it would return for a forth year as things had gotten quite hectic.

A couple of days after the conference my wife had our baby! What a crazy but amazing week!

September I also decided to sign up to Speak Easy (http://speaking-easy.com/) to get a mentor to help work on my presenting and share ideas for future talks. A few weeks later I was pleased to have an email from Chris Ambler (https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrisambler60/) who’d agreed to be my mentor and asked to arrange a chat so we could decide the best way forward to chat.

I received an email, I’d been accepted to give the same talk I gave at DDD East Anglia at DDD North (http://dddnorth.co.uk) in Bradford. I had applied a few months back and due to things being so hectic It had slipped my mind.

October

A few days before I was due to speak at DDD North I spoke with Chris to mention I’d be speaking in Bradford. The day of the event Chris was there, front row for my talk, very nerve-racking! Afterward we sat for an hour and he gave me some fantastic feedback - it was probably the highlight of the whole event for me even though DDD North was an awesome event.

November

November after speaking to a few people I was told I could possibly speak in Leeds next year (more info to follow - top secret for now). The session will be around communication and collaboration.. I hope to write about this shortly when I have further information.

I also spoke with my mentor Chris again and we started brainstorming new ideas for talks and about the visual talk I’d spoken about previously. I hope over the comming months to further develop our ideas and possibly give a talk with Chris next year.

Myself and a few other awesome people (https://twitter.com/csamywilliams, https://twitter.com/welshdave, Jordan, Lewis) decided to create DDD Wales (http://dddwales.com) which we’re busy planning for March 2018 - further information to follow.

December

December I decided to submit a few ideas to a couple of test magazines, today my first feature was published in Professional Tester magazine (http://www.professionaltester.com/files/PT-issue43.pdf)!

This week I also announced SwanseaCon would be back in 2018 and already have been in contact with some great speakers who want to be a part of the event in September 2018.

This month I started to look at DDD Scotland (http://ddd.scot), I hoped to attend the event as it had some great sessions and I wanted to see Christos again (https://twitter.com/christosmatskas). I’ve ended up submitting two talks to the event, the visual talk and a talk around communication and collaboration so I hope to be going to Scotland early next year to at least attend if not speak!

2018?

It’s been a pretty crazy year but so much fun, I’ve had the opportunity to meet old friends, make new ones as well as get opportunities to further my knowledge and skills which has been amazing.

Fingers crossed 2018 brings much of the great stuff from above and more.

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