Jonathan Kohl is an internationally recognized consultant and technical leader. Based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada he is the founder and principal software consultant of Kohl Concepts, Inc. Jonathan helps companies define and implement their ideas into products, coaches practitioners as they develop software on teams, and works with leaders helping them define and implement their strategic vision. He is also a popular author and speaker. As a thought leader in mobile application development, developing policy and strategy, and helping teams adjust to methodology changes, Jonathan doesn’t just write and talk about developing software, he actively helps teams deliver the best products they can.
Jonathan’s pragmatic approach focuses on getting down to the nuts and bolts of problem solving, encouraging organization-wide collaboration. Bridging technical and business interests within an organization, Jonathan is as at home in the software development lab working on technical projects, as in the board room, assisting with strategic business decisions.
Jonathan has contributed to three books as a chapter author, has written over thirty articles for industry publications, and has presented at many conferences as a tutorial and workshop trainer, track talk and keynote speaker. He is the author of the book “Tap Into Mobile Application Testing.” (See his publications page for more information.)
Jonathan is an influential technical leader, and those who work with him have described him as a brilliant strategist, a generalist problem solver and leader of getting things done, a highly skilled and effective practitioner, and an incredibly inspiring person.
Jonathan has a track record of thought leadership and technical innovation, including the following:
- 2009-present: Mobile applications thought leadership: Jonathan has been a pioneer in applying pragmatic approaches to solving hard problems on mobile application projects for smartphones and tablets. Jonathan has provided leadership in product management, project management and software testing in the mobile industry. Jonathan’s “I SLICED UP FUN” testing model has been implemented by teams all over the world. He is asked to speak on mobile application topics, and writes articles to share his ideas and experience in this space. He is also frequently interviewed on mobile-related topics on testing and app design. He is an advisor for two local mobile-related startups, helping with product strategy, business planning and investor and product pitches. Jonathan teaches people how to test on smartphones and tablets, which is a big shift from PCs and web apps. He has worked with SQE Training to provide a 2 day course on mobile development in North America, and with SoftEd in New Zealand and Australia, as well as through other training companies in different parts of the world. Jonathan’s mobile book: Tap Into Mobile Application Testing was first published in October 2012. He also contributed a chapter to The Everything Guide to Mobile Apps which was published in March 2013. His latest mobile book effort is Tap Into Mobile Application Design, in progress.
- 2008-present: Thought leadership in using gamification concepts in software development: Worked with David McFadzean on using game-concepts to develop software development policy. Co-authored “the Software Development Game” article in the Oct/Nov 2012 edition of Better Software magazine. Jonathan has been applying gamification techniques used in his mobile app design work to software testing efforts, and began writing and speaking about the topic publicly in 2012. Jonathan has been applying gamification concepts to software testing to help make it more engaging, effective and fun, and sharing his ideas publicly since late 2012. Jonathan’s “Cool! Testing’s Getting Fun Again” keynote for the spring 2013 STAR Canada conference in Toronto is a call to action for test teams to create a better future for themselves by using game mechanics in testing.
- 2008-present: Value in software development: Jonathan’s “What’s More Important, Being Agile or Creating Value?” keynote at the 2009 Better Software conference helped get the term “value” into the conversation of software development on modern projects. Spurred on by a chat with Philippe Kruchten on factors that help some teams be successful no matter what process they follow, Jonathan began researching value and valuation and how we can apply that to software development work. Jonathan continues to research and bring the value message to different audiences and teams.
- 2009: Thought leadership in managing exploratory testing: Applied his management and leadership background to leading and managing exploratory testing efforts. Jonathan created a tutorial to show others how to create structure around exploratory testing to help them maximize their effectiveness. This was one of the first public tutorials of its kind offered.
- 2007: Automation thought leadership: “Man and Machine” article published, giving exposure to using automation beyond regression testing. Building on Cem Kaner’s Computer Assisted Testing” and James Bach’s “Tool-Supported Testing” work, Jonathan described several approaches to automation beyond the norm. The article resulted in several public talks, and was quite popular, describing task automation, test fixture automation, simulation and emulation, and the power in the interactivity between a thoughtful human and a machine. Jonathan was asked to write a book chapter on this topic for Dot Graham and Mark Fewster’s Experiences of Test Automation compilation book. Many people have told Jonathan that this article has allowed them to expand their automation beyond the status quo.
- 2007: Created the Session Tester tool and open source project, and with it, helped to revive interest in Session-Based Testing Management. There have been several other tools that have been created since Session Tester. Jonathan saw a need for a tool to help capture notes in test sessions, and designed the tool, and led the project with the help of other volunteers. Prior to Session Tester, this was largely an unaddressed niche, now several tools fill the space.
- 2007-2011: Exploratory Testing thought leadership: Influential articles and public talks contributing to the exploratory testing community. Jonathan was one of the first to compare exploratory testing to music composition and expression in his “Exploratory Testing: Finding the Music of Software Investigation” article, and Jonathan’s “Demystifying Exploratory Testing” article describes a structure to exploratory testing that many have found helpful. His “Documenting Exploratory Testing” piece describes popular practices teams use to capture enough documentation that is required by regulatory bodies. Jonathan describes techniques from adult education and utilizing tools like screen capture video.
- 2006: Coined the term “Post-Agilism”, (simultaneously with Jason Gorman in separate articles). While this was controversial, it got people thinking about striving for excellence and building great software instead of just following a popular process. The term was loved by some and reviled by others, but it is an influential concept with far reaching effects.
- 2004-2006: Thought leadership on Agile Testing: several articles published on testing on Agile projects in the early-mind 2000s. Jonathan’s three part series on combining skilled exploratory testing with Test-Driven Development was groundbreaking, and his description of Exploratory Testing on Agile teams, using user experience tools such as personae and other approaches are popular. Jonathan’s work on testing on Agile projects has been used by many people, all over the world. It is cited in books, in papers and in the work people do on their own teams to solve their own unique problems.
- 2004-2005: Original contributor to the Watir Project: Collaborated with Paul Rogers and Bret Pettichord on requirements, design and implementation. Created the original user guides and project documentation which helped fuel the popularity the tool now enjoys. Wrote articles and gave public talks and tutorials on using Watir .
- 2003: Co-founder of the Web Testing with Ruby Group, the team that spawned the Watir project. Jonathan was an inspiring force behind the creation of a good, free, open source tool at a time when the industry was suffering with expensive, ineffective proprietary tools.
- early 2000s: Agile Testing pioneer: pioneering work in how to do skilled, effective testing on Agile teams by working on real,live projects and experimenting with ideas. Jonathan was discovered because of his exploratory testing work on Agile teams, and his collaborative approach, pairing or collaborating with developers, analysts, DBAs, documentation specialists, etc. Brian Marick asked Jonathan to write his first article because of this work, on pair testing with developers.
About Kohl Concepts Inc.
Kohl Concepts Inc. is a Canadian company that provides software-related services. Services include software development advisory consulting, as well as software testing strategy, planning and execution, training on software testing, technical writing, translation and web site design. Clients have ranged from small startups to large industry leaders.