Re: Writing vs. Testing

Subject: Re: Writing vs. Testing
From: Anthony Markatos <tonymar -at- HOTMAIL -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 22 May 1999 10:53:48 PDT

Fred Sampson asks:

So, my question is: Can a technical writer (especially a newbie) reasonably
expect to perform alpha-testing assignments? I understand the need to learn
the new software by using it, which can include testing, but is this the
major part of the tech writer's job?

Tony Markatos responds:

Very good question!

As a technial writer, I have done a lot of end user testing (even as a
newbie). Heck, when every sixth command you issue causes the thing to
"blow-up" or is so confusing that Eistien would have trouble with it, you
have no choice but to be a software tester. (Believe me, there is a lot of
very "primative" software out there!)

Your question asks if testing is a major task of a typical technical writer.
The primary input to end user test efforts is either end-user-focused
requirements specifications or the end user manual. Since end-user-focused
requirements specs are extremely rare (i.e, the analysts and designers never
did have a good handle on what the software is supposed to do from an end
user viewpoint to begin with) the manual is most often used. And since the
technical writer created the manual, who else would be better qualified to
perform end user testing?

Tony Markatos
tonymar -at- hotmail -dot- com

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