The Austin Workshop on Test Automation

January 16 - 18, 2009, Austin Texas

Watir and the Organization

Eighth Austin Workshop on Test Automation

Front: Gregg Yows, Bernie Miles, Marek J, Ċ½eljko Filipin, Bret Pettichord, Stan Wozniak
Middle: Janet Gregory, Sharon Alger, Alan Baird, Tiffany Fodor
Back: Steve Kim, Charley Baker, Rick Hower, Lisa Crispin, Al Snow, Jim Matthews, Alister Scott, Dave Hoover, Deniz Turkoglu, Wilhelm Joys Anderson, Hugh McGowan, Pete Dignan
Not Shown: Andrew Dahl.

Confirmed attendees with their letters of introduction
Workshop Notes

Call for Participation

Join us as we share our experiences using Watir and other open-source tools to support testing in organizations. We are interested in learning more about how people use Watir to to facilitate collaboration between different roles on a team:
  • Who wrote the tests?
  • Who provided a framework?
  • Who ran the tests?
  • Who reviewed the test results?
  • Who benefited from your test suite or your testing library?
  • Did you create a fully automated suite or did you create set up scripts to facilitate manual testing?
  • Did they affect the development process?
Although our focus is on Watir, we are also interested to hear stories about how organizations are using other open-source testing tools.

The Austin Workshop on Test Automation is a three-day event that brings together leading practitioners. This is peer workshop, which means that all participants are expected to actively participate, one way or another. We have a flexible format with facilitated presentations and group discussion in the mornings and smaller collaborations in the afternoons. We seek participation from people who have developed Watir frameworks, people who have used Watir scripts and people who have managed and championed Watir-based testing initiatives. We are also interested in hearing from people who have used other open-source tools to support testing efforts.

Workshop Schedule

The formal program covers the following times:
  • Friday, 16 January, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
  • Saturday, 17 January, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
  • Sunday, 18 January, 9:00 am to noon

All participants are expected to attend during these times. Please contact the organizers if you would like to attend, but will not be able to attend the full event.

An optional dinner will be held Thursday evening, open to family and guests.

The workshop space will be open at 8:00 am each morning, with coffee and pastries.

We will also have space available for informal meetings Friday and Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.


AWTA is run on a non-profit basis.

We ask participants to pay a workshop fee of $190 to cover the cost of facilities and refreshments. To encourage participation from other lands, there is no fee for participants traveling from overseas. Local participants are asked to pay $225 to allow us to keep down the costs to those traveling from out of town. All participants are responsible for their travel, lodging and some meals. (We'll provide a light breakfast all three days and lunch on Fri and Sat.)

Attending the Workshop

Participation in the workshop is by invitation based on a letter of introduction. Attendance is limited to 25 people. We seek participants from a variety of backgrounds, including those who:

  • Have developed testing frameworks using Watir and other open-source tools.
  • Have sponsored or championed Watir-based test automation efforts.
  • Have participated in Watir-based testing efforts and have observations to share.

Do not plan on sharing any proprietary or confidential information at this workshop. Any information you share can be used or published by other participants. As a participant, you may have the opportunity to collaborate during the workshop on open-source projects. Do not attend if you have legal obligations that would prevent this. The workshop is designed to encourage publication of practices, experiences and code.

You will be expected to pay the workshop fee, and attend the formal program for all three days of the workshop unless prior arrangements have been made with the organizers.

Please do not submit group applications. Colleagues who wish to attend should each directly submit their own letter of introduction.

Letters of Introduction

If you would like to join us, please send us a letter of introduction. It should have two parts:
  1. Background. Describe your background and experience related to the workshop topic.
  2. Contribution. Describe how you would like to contribute to the workshop. We seek people who can give experienced-based reports on their use of open-source tools for automated testing for our morning sessions and people who seek collaboration with hands-on projects that will advance the practice of open-source testing for our afternoon sessions.

Send your letter to the organizers. We will review letters on a rolling basis beginning Dec 1 until the workshop fills. Please contact us if you have any questions about the application process.

All workshop materials, including accepted letters of introduction, will be published on workshop wiki unless special arrangements have been made with the organizers.


The workshop will be held at the Norris Conference Center, including comfortable chairs and internet access. It is located in the Northcross Mall in Austin. Participants may choose to stay at the Northcross Suites, adjacent to the conference center, or the Hyatt Place Austin Arboretum, about 2.75 miles from the conference center.


Bret Pettichord is lead developer for Watir and CTO of WatirCraft, a startup company providing commercial support for Watir. He is co-author of Lessons Learned in Software Testing and the founder of the Austin Workshops on Test Automation. His personal website is

Charley Baker is project manager for Watir and QA Architect for the GAP, Inc.

Pete Dignan is the co-founder and CEO of WatirCraft, and also the founder and President of ProtoTest.