WebSummit 2018 Experience Summary

It is a huge conference!

Web Summit is the biggest technology conference in Europe which happens for 3 days. This year it has 90000 attendees and 1200 speakers. Lisbon becomes a very busy city during these 3 days of the conference.

Photo: Center stage during the inaugural ceremony

Several tracks to choose from

The tracks for web summit are developed to cater different interests. You can find at least one track that you would want to spend most of the day. To name a few of the tracks : Auto/Tech & Talk Robot, Startup University, SaaS Monster, Women in Technology etc with a total of 21 tracks!

To get an overview of different tracks and talks, checkout the agenda for 2018 : https://websummit.com/schedule

We have to mention that given a big choice of tracks it does result in “Choice Paralysis”. There are so many talks to choose from and you have to end up sacrificing some to make it to some other talks.

That sounds chaotic?

This conference sure is at a very large scale. But fear not! It is the most smoothest experience of a conference that we have ever seen. Even with the huge crowd, wait times in queues was never beyond 4-5mins. The organizers seem to know how to organize the chaos 🙂

Did we attend all the talks we wanted to?

To answer simply, NO… we did not get to attend all the talks we wanted to!

It is easy to get diverted or confused on which track or talk to choose given there is a lot going on in there. The best option we have chosen was to split among ourselves in the talks we wanted to attend and exchange notes at the end of the day over a nice green wine!

It is not all just talks and sessions!

Web Summit packed a whole bunch of experiences for the attendees. Apart from talks there are also stalls set up by different companies to try out their products. My favourite one was the AR escape room built by a company which was thrilling experience. Evenings are filled with several fun packed events that can expand your enjoyment like a live band performances, a night celebration at the infamous Pink Street etc.

Photo: Pink Street, art display at the venue, Pineapple drink @food court in the venue

Photo: Live band performance on sunset summit, venue for evening summit

Start-up world!

Web Summit was an opportunity to make conversations with many companies and exchange ideas. There were many startups at the display to explain their projects and get people involved in their activities.The viability of different ideas were discussed, which was very cool. Overall, it was a great platform to speak to many people from all over the world who were interested in building their own unique ideas and solutions for existing problems.

Quality of the talks

Like any big conference, the talks of this conference got mixed reviews too. Some of the talks like “A contract for the web” by Sir Tim Berners Lee gave some thought provoking details and are the kind of talks that attract the audience. This conference also invited the world’s first AI robots Sophia The Robot and Han The Robot to discuss about the future of robots.

Most talks were time-boxed to about half an hour which often did not allow much in-depth discussion of the topics. This would also make sense from the standpoint that the Web Summit is supposed to attract a wider crowd with a diverse background. Hence the topics cannot scratch much more than the surface but should at least inform the audience. At times, the talks ended up not exactly living up to their almost click-baity description, either since they ended up being more of Q&As with a host. It should also be mentioned the most of the talks on the central stage were marketing gigs in which the various companies could present their brands in a shiny light. I (Philipp L) would like to emphasize the talk of Microsoft, which promoted a digital Geneva Convention with dubious arguments that were not explained.

Photo: Sophia The Robot, Fidelidade robot dog, Quantum Computing device by IBM

Other facts

We are thoroughly impressed by the amount of caring went into planning this conference. They have ensured to give discount for Women in IT to encourage more women attendees, have put a conscious effort to ensure speaker gender balance and reduce the food and plastic wastage.

Sightseeing in Lisbon

Lisbon has great views to offer to the tourists. After the conference some of us stayed back for the weekend to enjoy this city and take in its beautiful scenery. Our recommendation is to walk on the walls of the São Jorge Castle, visit the aquarium and the district Alfama. The famous Pastéis de Nata is good reason to visit the Pastéis de Belém and the tower of Belém right next to it.  


Planning to attend the next Web Summit?

Below are some tips from our personal experience

  • Book your flight and hotel/airbnb way in advance. Lisbon gets ~90k attendees to the conference and it will become hard to find a cheap and good hotel if not booked advance
  • Do not try to attend all the talks in all tracks planning to the minute. Given the large arena and time to move from one track to another track among the crowd, it is going to slow you down. Instead try and stick to one track for a couple of talks to get the most out of it
  • If you are going as a part of a group, try and split the interesting talks among the group to get the most out of the conference
  • If you are interested in Start Up ideas, you have hit the jackpot with Web Summit. You will get to meet ~1500 startups and discuss their ideas and implementations
  • There are lots of stalls displaying cool stuff done by different companies. If you don’t find talks that are interesting, spend the time to explore these stalls to look at stuff like AR VR labs, AI algorithms, Quantum Computing machines etc
  • There are also developer workshops held to have hands on experience with AWS and IBM computing stuff. If talks seems boring, you always have an option to choose from.
  • Check if your mobile network provider is supported in Portugal.
  • Last but not least, do not forget to have fun!
WebSummit 2018 Experience Summary

Speaking at an International Conference: SeleniumConf UK 2016


I have recently spoken at the Selenium Conf 2016 London. This is my first ever international conference and I am really excited to share my experiences and learning from the conference in this space.

About Selenium Conference:

The Selenium Conference is a non-profit, volunteer-run event presented by members of the Selenium Community. The goal of the conference is to bring together Selenium developers & enthusiasts from around the world to share ideas, socialize, and work together on advancing the present and future success of the project.

The first ever Selenium Conference was organized in 2011. So far they have been held in London, Bangalore, Boston and Portland.

What’s special in this edition?

This year the conference was held at the Mermaid Theater, London from Nov 14th to Nov 16th. The event was scheduled to have one day workshop and two day conference. The speakers for this year’s conference have flown from different countries and the organizers(White October Events) had made sure to have a diverse mix of the bunch(a total of 26 speakers which constitutes 10 female speakers and 16 male speakers).

More details on the speakers and their bio can be found in the below link

SeleniumConf UK 2016 – Home page

What are the conference topics?

The conference was for two days and has two parallel tracks. The topics in each tracks have been interesting enough and it was a tough call to pick one. Few interesting topics to quote are:

Robots: The Nuclear Option:  Jason Huggins

A Programmer’s Guide to Humans:  Janelle Klein

Turning iOS End-to-End Testing up to 11: Lawrence Lomax

Is it or is it not really visible… Selenium’s flawed vision: David Burns

More details on the schedule can be found on the event website

SeleniumConf UK 2016 – Schedule

What it is to be a speaker at this conference?

I have had an ample experience speaking on stage. I have also been a speaker in many internal conferences like vodQA and external conferences in Hyderabad and Bangalore. But being a speaker to an international audience was a totally different experience. I had to prepare not only the content that would cater the wider audience but also practice a lot on the way I speak (putting into practice the intonation and voice modulation). The advantage of speaking at Indian conferences is that we can get to know the community and what the general expectations from a talk are. It wasn’t that easy to gain common understanding of the audience expectation for an international event. Here is where we took the help from organizers.

What did I enjoy the most?

Apart from the sessions we have got chance to interact with the core committers of Selenium. We got to hear from the creators themselves on the future of Selenium and what it meant for the future of automation.

I was always curious to know about the testing innovations happening across the industries and this conference gave me a chance to hear from testers across the world. (If you would like to know more about this, we can talk in length during the QA catch up!)


How is this conference different?

In most of the conferences within India that I have had the chance to attend, the topics were something that we would practice in our projects in one way or other. Most of those talks would be on agile practices in testing and test automation which we, ThoughtWorkers, are already aware of. This is where the SeleniumConf London has made a difference to me. Most of the talks were a learning experience on how differently testing could be implemented in the future. Those talks helped me to change my perspective on the future of testing and tester career path altogether.


Interesting, where can I find the talks?

All the conference talks were live streamed and recorded. You can find the talks in the link below.

SeleniumConf UK – YouTube

Is this conference recommendable to others?

Absolutely. I suggest every aspiring speaker to at least give one talk in an international conference. And if the conference is also awesome enough to gain more learnings, there is no second thought in submitting a talk for such conference. The next edition of Selenium Conf is announced to be held in Austin, Texas. Keep an eye out for more updates from the Selenium blog.

Official Selenium Blog | Just another WordPress.com weblog


Finally, to close with, here is a picture of all the speakers:


Pic Credits: Katura Jensen


Speaking at an International Conference: SeleniumConf UK 2016

Talk on Galen and automating Responsive Websites

I have been talking a lot about Galen framework on my other blog post and I still owe a blog post to explain how to build the UI test layer using the same. Here is a talk that I have presented at Selenium Conference 2016 held in Bangalore where I have explained in detail about Galen!

Youtube Link for Talk on Galen

#Automation #SeConf2016 #Bangalore #Galen #Framework #OpenSource

Talk on Galen and automating Responsive Websites

Testing the happy paths

In an Agile setting when a story is ready for test, the testers would sit along with the developers to verify the basic acceptance criteria of the story. When the story has met all the acceptance criteria defined in it, the story will need moved to the testing phase. If the story has failed in one or more scenarios, the developers will continue fixing the story.

Once the story has reached the testing phase, the starting point for any testers would be to verify the happy paths.

Happy paths are the expected behavior of a system or functionality or a story.  Utter is the most desirable path taken by the users

Focusing on happy paths first will help in verifying the sanity of the story.  During this it  is best to put ourselves in the shoes of an end user and use the application.

Example happy paths:

Consider the functionality upload a file

The happy paths are

  1. Upload button should be clickable
  2. In clicking the button or should show a window pop up
  3. Selecting a fuller on the window and clicking OK should upload the file
  4. Uploaded file should be available

Happy Testing..!!


Testing the happy paths

Responsive Web Design Testing in the Galen way

The Responsive Web Design has become the most popular trend these days with the demand of having a single website that is supported across all the devices.

Instead of having a http://www.someweburl.com and m.someweburl.com to support on desktop and mobile views,  organizations are tending towards having a

single website that can be accessed across multiple devices.

This demand led to the invention of responsive websites. The prime responsibility of a responsive site is to

scale the website based on the end user’s screen resolution and intelligently display the content based on the real estate available.

This in turn led to the evolution of several frameworks to support responsiveness. While this all sounds good for the business, the actual challenge is to test these websites. With hundreds of new devices releasing in to the market everyday, it is hard to ensure that the websites are working fine in all the resolutions.


When this is practically impossible,the closest we can get is using the simulators or emulators to test the websites. Other alternative is to use third  party services to test the website. Some service providers are saucelabs, browserstack etc. Using the paid tools for achieving the test goals might be a good idea but for someone who is a fan of open source tools like me, they aren’t the option.

In my search to find an open source tool that can help me test the responsiveness of a site, I came across Galen framework.

Galen has been a handy tool because of the above mentioned. When I introduced this tool at much later stage in our project, it has managed to live up to the expectations in providing early feedback on the UI changes. It  was crucial as the project demanded UI improvements and we wanted to be sure that responsiveness of the website is always intact.

To know more about Galen,  visit the website here.

In the next blog post I will explain on how to get started with Galen.

Responsive Web Design Testing in the Galen way