Notes from the Expo Floor - Home
Star West 2012
Brian Kirk
OCT 23, 2012 13:20 PM
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Star West 2012, located at the Disneyland Hotel, just wrapped up, and after five days full of information on the cutting edge of software quality engineering, it’s pretty evident that this conference is here to stay. 

2012’s content-offerings were varied and interesting, but I’m here to talk about the expo floor.
Billed as a “one-of-a-kind Expo, designed to bring you the latest solutions in testing technologies, software, and tools,” the exhibition hall was deceptively large, considering the small amount of floor space ear-marked for the exhibition booths. Walking into the Expo on Wednesday morning, five minutes after it officially opened, I worried that it was going to be a dead floor, as the various booth staff were, at least for the most part, standing at attention with no one to talk to.
I made a lap, taking in the physical layout, before leaving to meet a colleague. When I walked back in less than twenty minutes later, I had missed the deluge of people leaving from the various panels and speakers. The floor was full, with lines crowding the middle row so much that I backed away, content to try again after it cleared a little bit. It was fairly obvious that the corner booths were good investments for these peak periods.
That fact is one of the reasons that Star West is so fascinating. While the outside observer might not think that a conference on software testing analysis and review would be so popular, those of us in the technology fields understand how important and vibrant of a community it really is. Therein lies one of the paradoxes of the Expo: most of the exhibitors were marketing the ease-of-use of their services for an extremely knowledgeable crowd. 
A few of the attendees that I talked to agreed, but at least they were savvy enough about the conference world to understand that they were tech people talking to salesmen and marketers. With that said, the best conversations I had with the booth-staff were actually with the tech people brought along to augment the respective companies’ booth-based outreach. I can handle a decent share of tech-speak, and their excitement of interacting with a bunch of fellow nerds was fairly obvious to me.
The big push this year seemed to be on automation in testing, with several of the exhibitor touting their “agile-friendly” approach to services. 
Several of the booths really stood out, not by their high-fidelity displays and splashy swag, but by the content that they were pushing. I liked Compuware’s approach to load testing services, and their staff was incredibly knowledgeable and friendly, talking to me less like a press representative and more like a human being interested in technology (although the free copies of Web Load Testing for Dummies might be targeted at the wrong crowd—I didn’t see any dummies on the floor). 
Beyond that, I’d have to say that the pick of the Expo floor was Testplant, presenting their Eggplant services. Their approach to testing utilizes an image-recognition approach, speeding up testing processes. Their booth staff was incredibly energetic about their tech, and as far as I could tell, with good reason. As mobile development teams get smaller and smaller, their testing needs inevitably have led to speed and adaptability. It seemed like this team has a rather strong grasp on that reality (and the excitement to back it up).
If Star West has been on your radar for a while, I’d recommend checking it out next year. It may not be the biggest or flashiest conference, but for the SQE crowd, it’s one of the best.
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