Interview with Dragan Spiridonov

by Alexandra Schladebeck

Dragan talks with Alexandra about his experience at EclipseCon 2016, the Project Quality Day and being a presenter. Dragan participated in the Speakeasy program where he was matched with a coach for his talk, "Context-driven agile- from outsourcing to the startup world ."

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself

A: I am a software tester with a background as a teacher. Now I’m working as a Test Lead for Drytools, a Serbian start-up. I am passionate about testing, learning, and sharing knowledge, and that is probably why friends call me the Professor. I still love to teach, that is why I'm involved in various events teaching kids how to code with or without a computer. I also contribute to the local testing community by organizing meetups and as an administrator of our site Test'RS club . When I'm not working, learning new things or teaching I love spending time with my family. I am a husband, and the father of two princesses.  Also, I like small talks, gardening, not-so-long walks and science fiction movies.

Q: What made you consider doing a talk submission to Eclipse Con Europe and the Project Quality Day?

A: One of my colleagues had a chance to participate at Eclipse Con Europe in 2010 or 2011, and had just good things to say about the conference. Eclipse Con Europe is a one of a kind conference for developers gathered around Eclipse ecosystem. I was just introduced to the Speak Easy program, and when I saw the possibility to apply for EclipseCon 2016 on the Project Quality Day, I just had to take it. The proposed scope and topics for PQD were inspiring so I wrote a proposal and the rest is history. The day I received the email with notification of acceptance from Eclipse Con I was happy, excited and scared at the same time, as this would be a big challenge for me. Thanks to my Speak Easy mentor Maaret Pyhäjärvi and her guidance it went much easier than expected.

Q: How did the mentoring and call for papers process work between you, your mentor and the conference?

A: I had enrolled in the Speak Easy program maybe a month before the CFP from EclipseCon and had a chance to start working on several possible talks with my mentor Maaret Pyhäjärvi. I like her approach to mentoring; the way she gives valuable feedback and asks inspiring questions has helped me to choose a topic and write an abstract which was accepted. Our communication was through emails and several Skype calls, but it was enough to provide needed results. I submitted the talk through the form, they passed it on to Eclipse Con, and after a while, I was notified about the acceptance. The rest of the communication was through emails with kind ladies from the Eclipse Foundation - Alexandra, Anne, Sarah, Susan, thank you all for making this experience enjoyable.

Q: What was your topic, and what were the main takeaways for the audience?

A: My topic was Context-driven agile tester - from outsourcing to startup world. The main takeaways from my talk would be:

  • Learning about differences and similarities between Agile and Lean, Scrum and Kanban from a software tester perspective
  • Understanding the basics behind the practices that could be applied in your company, and
  • Learning how to overcome challenges for a software tester when the context is switching fast

Q: What were your impressions of the Project Quality Day and Eclipse Con Europe?

A: All talks at the PQD were valuable - I learned about the testing of Eclipse plugins, managing 650 Jenkins jobs, code coverage, and scalable functional UI tests, but one talk got my special attention. At first it was the topic, then the speaker’s suit, and then again the topic as he started presenting on why we should care about ethics in software development. This topic deserves special attention by everybody, and I hope he will continue to present it. The rest of us could also start by raising awareness of how important ethicality should be when we are developing our products.

I had a chance to also participate in a workshop and visit some other talks on the first day of the conference, and each provided me with some new insights into Eclipse project ecosystems and trends in industry. The keynote of the first day - The Shuttle Case - was given by Stephen Carver from Cranfield University, and it was a mind-blast - it made me laugh and cry at the same time.

Besides all the talks and presentations, the extra power of this event is in its social aspect, networking, meeting new people, making new connections. Beautiful city, lovely venue, kind and helpful hosts, valuable content: what else should one wish for in a  conference?

Q: And finally, any hints for new speakers wanting to try out speak easy?

Do not be shy, do not be afraid. Get out of your comfort zone, contact mentors from the speak easy program. They are all ready to help you in your first steps. I have tried writing abstracts myself, and with help of some experienced colleagues, but only with the help of a mentor from the speak easy program did I get the result I was expecting - to speak at an international conference. I would like to take this opportunity to thank again my mentor Maaret Pyhäjärvi for all the help and guidance she has given me.

Dragan Spiridonov

Dragan Spiridonov

Alexandra Schladebeck

Alexandra Schladebeck


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