10 MIN

February the Robot Framework month – Robocon 2024

I could call February the Robot Framework month. Why? The answer is simple it is the month of the biggest Robot Framework conference – Robocon 2024. There are two events. At the beginning of February there was the in-person meeting in Helsinki and at the end of the month the online summit takes place. When the in-person and online meetings were split in two separate ones I thought it was strange. Now I think that it was a great move, thanks to that it was an inspiring month, I think not just for me.

The in-person conference in Helsinki

Workshops

Let me start with the in-person conference in Helsinki. I was a 4-day event. Everything started on 6th of February with the workshop day. There were several whole day session planed. To participate one had to enroll on the robocon.io page. It is a good opportunity to learn a lot in one day from experts in their field.

This year the following courses were available:

  • Browser Library Advanced Workshop by Tatu Aalto, René Rohner
  • Containerize your robots and run them on Kubernetes by Markus Stahl, Nils Balkow-Tychsen
  • Integrating Robot Framework with Generative AI and Jira by David Fogl
  • Mobile application testing with Robot Framework by Gaja Kochaniewicz, Juuso Tamminen
  • Next-Gen Pipeline Journey: Elevate your skills with Robot Framework by Lukasz
  • Performance test in a day using Robot Framework and RFSwram by Dave
  • Workshop about creating libraries for Robot Framework by Andre Mochinin

Most of the training sessions were sold out, so if you plan to enroll next year don’t wait to the last minute 😊.

I must mention that one of the class was created and led by our team colleague Łukasz Kurzaj. The name of that workshop was Next-Gen Pipeline Journey: Elevate your skills with Robot Framework. Participants learned a lot and had a great time. An additional attraction of the session was playing The Pipeline game, a card game created by Eficode, the name explains the game.

Open space

The second day is a very special day on Robocon. It is the Open Space day and it’s all about the Robot Framework community. A quick side note the Open Space is open to everyone for free, just enroll via the event page so the organizers know how many people to expect.

How does the day look like? At first all the attendees meet in one room and topic proposals are gathered. Then a schedule is created – when and where which topic will be discussed, depending on the number of people interested in each topic. Everyone can propose a topic, so if there is something bothering you regarding RF or you want to show some interesting use case or do some live coding and contribute to RF, the Open Space is the place to be. For example, we had the opportunity to see new functionality of the RobotCode plugin created by Daniel Biehl before the official release and tutorial during Robocon online.

Speaking of tutorials – it was a new thing this year. The idea is to give a short – 2 hours, technical presentation on a topic. During the “lesson” the participant can write their code in parallel to the tutor or just watch and learn. Since the guides were during the Open Space, they were free, but again enrollment was mandatory via the event page.

And here again we as a company contributed a bit: Igor Czyrski (our colleague from the QA team) led a tutorial titled Unlocking the Power of Robot Framework: An Introductory Tutorial. As the name suggest it was about how to start the adventure with Robot Framework. From what I heard the attendees were pleased with the lecture and the knowledge they gained.

Robocon conference

The conference

On the next two days (8-9.02.24) the conference took place. The level of the talks was high and in each of them was something interesting and inspiring. I won’t go through each presentation here, instead I will present personal favorites of our crew which was in Helsinki:

  • Igor - presentation by Guido Demmenie and Frank van der Kuur Roadtrip across the Robot Framework pitfalls and how our architecture saved us., about what "surprises" await along the project's path, how to deal with them, and reach the goal happily.

  • Adam - Robot Framework as a compliance enabler led by Kateřina Hošová, i.e., how to use Robot Framework to ensure compliance with all regulations in the highly regulated pharmaceutical market.

  • Jurek - he couldn't decide on a single favorite, and that is understandable because all presentations were of a high standard. Jurek's 2 favorite presentations were: Database Library update led by Andre Mochinin and 3..2..1..BEEEEEP! Microwaving Robot Framework led by Stavroula Ventoura. Both had a lot of humor but were also very substantive. The presentation on the Database Library briefly told the story of the library's development and work on it over the past year when, after a 3-year break, it found a maintainer again. The presentation on microwaves was actually about testing telecommunications devices and the concept of one keyword.

  • Krzysiek - RFSwag Library led by Dave Amies. Dave talked about his work on the RFSwarm library from conception, through development, to plans for the near future. RFSwarm is a tool for load testing. What's impressive is that he did all the work himself and helps a lot on the Robot Framework forum because he feels obligated to support its community since he based the solution on Robot Framework, which is very inspiring.

Two of the presentation were unusual and memorable because they were not strictly related to RF or testing, but about soft skills useful in the tester's work:

  • The first one took place during lightning talks (which were organized differently this year): How humor can help in a career led by Antti Akonniemi, who hosted the event. Antti talked about how humor and stand-up performances helped him get used to the stage. The difference in lightning talks this year was that they were invented during the conference, and participants voted for the most interesting ones in the dedicated app.

  • The presentation at the end, The Happiness Advantage in QA (Eftychia Thomaidou) about not losing oneself in tests and not transferring the tester's critical gaze to private life and how to deal with it through mindfulness, meditation, gratitude journal, among other things. The attention-grabbing part was the ending where Eftychia asked for feedback, especially if someone didn't like her presentation. An attitude worthy of emulation.

Getting to know the people

Of course, the conference is not just about the talks. It’s also about meeting new people, exchanging ideas. There are a few ways to do it:

  • There are discussion tables. The idea is simple. One who would like to talk about a topic sits by a table writes on a piece of paper what his/her topic of interest is and anyone who’s interested in it can sit and have a discussion.

  • The other way is simply just approach someone during a break. It is probably the reason for long breaks after two talks. One can grab a coffee and have a talk with someone.

  • What was great this year was the gamification. On the revers of the name tag were listed task to do. For each completed task there was a sticker. For collecting 8 stickers on the first day there was an additional gift. But the ones who collected 13 stickers in 2 days took part in a lottery to win a free Robocon 2025 ticket. Why I’m writing about it in way to meet people? Because a lot of the task were about meeting new people, like:

    • Taking a selfie with 3 people you never met before
    • Discuss a topic at a discussion table.
    • Find a robot-friend (someone who has the same robot face on the revers of the name tag)
    • And many more 😊

After the first day of the conference there was also the game show Jeopardy – Robot Framework edition. The game took place on the main stage and there were 2 rounds. The rules were in the original Jeopardy game, but the questions or rather answers were related to Robot Framework and its ecosystem.

I had the pleasure to take part in the second round and came second after changing the strategy and let other contestants be wrong also 😉.

To sum up the onsite conference was great, well organized, had interesting talks, the Open Space was as always inspiring. Sadly, I missed the after party because I had to catch my plane. Nevertheless, I came home with head full of ideas that I want to try out at work.

But wait, there is more. Three weeks later was the Robocon 2024 online…

Robocon 2024 Online

On the 28th of February the online version of Robocon 2024 started. Apart from the workshops all other thigs are the same but online. There were 2 conferences day. All the talks were new and again the level was high, the presentations were inspiring. There was also the Open Space day in online version on the 1st of March. During the Open Space and were also tutorials in which anyone could participate eighter via Zoom or on YouTube. In fact, the YouTube recordings are still available, take a look at the Robot Framework channel.

And here again we added some value as a company, to be more specific Jerzy Głowacki (form out QA team) led an online tutorial titled Creating a Web Testing Framework from scratch using Robot Framework and Browser Library. As the name implies it was Jerzy showed how to create a web testing framework with Robot Framework and the Browser library. So, if you plan to build webapps tests take a look at Jerzy’s tutorial. I’m sure you will find a lot of value and useful tips.

The remarkable thing about the online version is the level of interaction with other people. There is a whole virtual venue space which you can explore with your avatar. Of course, everyone has an avatar so you can actually meet people, come up to them as during the in-person event. When you approach someone, you’ll see the camera shot from that person and you’ll start to hear what he/she is saying. The whole experience of the in-person conference taken to the virtual world. There are:

  • Virtual sponsor boots, so you can have a talk with one of the sponsors.
  • Virtual discussion table,
  • Main stage,
  • Speaker’s corner
  • Open Space area
  • Even a virtual bar to meet and talk to people after the busy day.

For me it is really impresiv that the experience from the online event was so close to the in-person one. Of course, there was also online version of the gamification. The tasks were different. But they encouraged everyone to explore the virtual Robocon world. Again, at the end there was a lottery and one person of those who finished the assignment won a free ticket for Robocon 2025.

Summary

In my opinion it is good to come to Helsinki for the in-person event and meet people live. It is always easier to talk on Robot Framework Slack to people you know. But if for some reason you cannot make it to Helsinki, the online version of Robocon is also a great occasion to meet other Robot Framework enthusiasts.

The people behind the Foundation and the people who make the most contribution to the RF ecosystem are usually on both conferences. Besides the official events there are also the informal ones, and they are during both meetings. I hope that if everything will go all right, we’ll see each other on Robocon 2024.

Krzysztof Żmikowski
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Mariusz Lewandowski

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