Writing vs. Testing -Reply

Subject: Writing vs. Testing -Reply
From: Kathryn Northcut <KNorthcut -at- TASC -dot- USDA -dot- GOV>
Date: Mon, 24 May 1999 08:06:21 -0600

Hm, I was really excited the other day when I was asked not only to test,
but to help write up some software testing guidelines (which I haven't
done yet and would LOVE input on)... to me it's not boring. It's a great
way to learn the software, learn about application design, help improve
the software, and get so familiar with it that silly errors in the
documentation become less likely. I felt that this was a completely
appropriate request.

In fact, every time I have had to do, teach, or write about anything
remotely technical I'd have to say I was doing some variety of testing...
so my vote is "yes," this is part of my job. The major part? Sometimes.

Just happy to be here,

>>> Fred Sampson <wfreds -at- CRUZIO -dot- COM> 05/21/99 10:54am >>>

Although I have years of writing and editing experience, I'm new to tech
writing, and still feeling my way into the profession.

At my first official technical writing job, I was to write online help for
accounting software written in FoxPro 2.6. However, for four of my
weeks on the job, I was asked to alpha-test the latest module. Originally,
support techs were supposed to do the tests, but weren't as "up to
as I was. I received little direction--one test script, one set of sample
data, and was told to keep doing it over and over, and report the bugs.
When I mentioned that I found this monotonous testing mind-numbing, I
shown the door.

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

I'll appreciate any comments you folks might have on this.

Thank you,

Fred Sampson
wfreds -at- cruzio -dot- com

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