Re: Writing vs. Testing

Subject: Re: Writing vs. Testing
From: Yvonne DeGraw <yvonne -at- SILCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 21 May 1999 22:47:29 -0700

Eric Ray <ejr -at- RAYCOMM -dot- COM> wrote:
>I suspect the difference is in testing and using the software
>and filing bugs as you go (a normal tech writer task) versus
>applying a test script (a normal QA task and one that generally
>does little to help the tech writer and, as someone noted,
>often conflicts with tech writing schedules). Applying test
>scripts (particularly if the script is thorough) is positively
>mind-numbing and not particularly educational. IMHO.

Yes -- in fact, it's so mind-numbing that there's software to automate it.
Setting up the test scripts and benchmarks is tricky (any change on
the screen gets flagged as a bug, so you have to minimize variation),
but it beats ruining your wrists with repetitive keystrokes.

In companies I've worked with that have "real QA departments", the
task of QA is to design test scripts, record them, and interpret
the results. I thing "QA Partner" was common for testing PC software.
I don't recall the names of other programs my clients have used.

The other difference between QA-style testing and tech-writer testing
is the types of bugs we tend to report. QA departments often report
failures and limit conditions -- "It fails if the variable name is
longer than 52 characters". Bugs I report in the course of documenting
are more often usability issues.

Yvonne DeGraw, Technical Services o Technical Writing
yvonne -at- silcom -dot- com o Online Help
http://www.silcom.com/~yvonne o Web Documentation
Tel: 805/683-5784 o Database Publishing


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