GTAC, 2016

Google Test Automation Conference was held on November 14-15, 2016 in Sunnyvale, California. It is an annual test automation conference hosted by Google which brings together engineers from industry and academia to discuss the advances in test automation and test engineering computer sciences field. I got an opportunity to be there at the Google Sunnyvale campus and attend GTAC after following up for 2 consecutive years. Other than CFP for speakers, they have applications for attendees as well and your seat isn’t confirmed until you get a confirmation email. This year they rolled out Diversity scholarships forms and I was selected as one of those 14 out of 273 applicants which felt like an achievement after I realised the number on reaching there. It was a great experience to meet people from different cultures across the globe who were also a part of the diversity scholarship program.

Diversity scholarship group

Day 0:

Google had organised a ‘Scholarship reception’ for all of scholarship recipients at Computer History Museum, Mountain view, California. It was exciting to meet a bunch of Googlers over snacks and drinks. The conversations involved discussions about the existing QA processes at Google, QA titles, agile, etc. It was fun to visit the Computer History Museum and see the super computers around you.


Registration booth

Day 1:

After the warm reception the previous evening, the wait was over for GTAC and we were expected to reach the Google campus by 9:00 am. As we reached, everyone was very excited to see the campus and we used the time to click some pictures around the Google logo 😉 *pictures* We moved inside the conference hall and the event kicked off with a keynote speech by Manasi Joshi. She started how it was 10 years back when we used to have discussions about how to use open source tools for testing or how to do automated testing. She walked through her journey at Google and talked about Ads, multiple axes of growth for any business and other things. The first talk of GTAC was a hit, worth remembering and the best one of the entire lot. It was about ‘Automating Telepresence Robot Driving’. What does it mean to be present in the 21st century? Conferencing – you can hear but it is too hard to visualise the remote environment; teleconferencing – you can see and hear each other but cannot react to the environment in a meaningful manner because you are stationary; telepresence – is action at a distance, a pilot drives a robot in a remote environment. You can listen to the complete talk here. There were a couple of talks throughout the day involving topics like selenium based test automation for windows, audio quality testing, etc. One of the interesting ones for the day was the last one on flaky tests, that was based more on a research from a large chunk of data provided by Google. There was a party at the end of the day in the Google campus itself, the theme appeared to be carnival where there were a few stalls of games and of course there was food! Google is really serious about food 😉 Nevertheless, there was lovely food for lunch at the different cafes they had, too many options to choose from. It was a great eventful day networking with so many people.

Automating Telepresence Robot Driving
At the conference * but not while the session was going on*
With the name tags and Google logo behind!
Evening party! Carnival theme

Day 2:

Day 2 started with another keynote session followed by a bunch of talks throughout the day. One of talks was focussed on speeding up tests and was aptly titled as “Need for Speed: Accelerate automation tests from 3 hours to 3 minutes”. It included some of the best practices like independent environments, in memory databases, containers and parallel execution of tests. Some other interesting talks of the day were ClusterRunner, integration testing multiple mobile devices, etc. After all the knowledge sharing for two days, it was time for closing remarks by Matt Lowrie, he had been an amazing host for those two days *never seen a host who was that soft spoken /that’s a compliment/ *. The conference came to an end and it was time to bid a goodbye to all the Googlers, other attendees and also the Google campus 😐 .

After the conference!
Group photo

Highlights/Takeaways from the conference:

  • Following the Test Pyramid
  • Scalable test infrastructure
  • Test as  Service: Let the developers run the test whenever they run
  • Testing for mobile is a challenge, given the number of people who use mobile today as compared to the ones using computers.
  • Better utilisation of test infrastructure
  • Reviving QA roles
  • Speeding up tests
The Test Pyramid

Some tools that I found interesting:

Some GTAC moments:



Thanks Google for giving us a chance to be there at GTAC 2016! It was a good experience all together. Looking forward to more! 🙂


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