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#1 Hiram  Icon User is offline

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How much report writing is there in industry?

Posted 31 May 2011 - 02:12 AM

Hi guys. I'm in my final year of university, doing a major project like most universities require. I'm the lead developer (read: only real programmer) for our team of four (originally five, sad face) and I've found I'm doing more report writing than programming, which I wouldn't have expected. Although I'm the lead developer, I've been tasked with doing run-downs of the client, team members and their roles, so on and so forth, and I'm wondering if this is normal for a run-of-the-mill programmer?

There have been a few instances where I've even functioned as the tester and quality assurance manager for our project, because the regular guy had too much else going on. I was fine with taking the role, but I consider this just plain wrong, because a programmer shouldn't really test their own code.

So, yeah, pretty straight forward. How much report writing should I expect in industry?

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#2 Guest_machinexider*


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Re: How much report writing is there in industry?

Posted 31 May 2011 - 02:28 AM

I argue a programmer should test his own code as much as he can for smaller programs like yours.After that he can give the program to other project member for further testing.

But when the program gets bigger and bigger, a separate testing team may be required

This post has been edited by machinexider: 31 May 2011 - 02:28 AM

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#3 Hiram  Icon User is offline

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Re: How much report writing is there in industry?

Posted 31 May 2011 - 02:40 AM

Oh, by all means do I think a programmer should test his own code, and I do test my own code. But what do you consider a small project? Our project is an iPhone application, Android application, and a website, all of which function as a sort of social network, with quite a lot of functionality.

It will take another six months to finish, so a full nine months to complete, so I wouldn't consider it small :P by no means is it a behemoth piece of software, but definitely not small.

But my point with the testing was that, in large projects, roles are broken down. Designers design the system, developers develop the system, and testers test the system. Of course, it's expected that roles will cross over somewhat, but I wouldn't have expected that developers are given sole responsibility for testing their own software.

The whole "my code is perfect, I don't need to test it!" argument quite a few developers throw around comes to mind here.
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#4 Guest_machinexider*


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Re: How much report writing is there in industry?

Posted 31 May 2011 - 03:10 AM

Are you computer science student??

I have graduated from a university under the computer science stream last year but our final project was not big, It was a website with about 20 distinct functions. It was done with ASP.NET and VB.NET. It took me 3 weeks to develop it, and 1 more week to test it.


So,I thought your project was small. It is not definitely small but it is not that big.

Anyway, you can focus on your programming by giving the testing task for other team members.

Thanks
For your long replies

This post has been edited by machinexider: 31 May 2011 - 03:11 AM

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#5 Hiram  Icon User is offline

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Re: How much report writing is there in industry?

Posted 31 May 2011 - 04:08 AM

Not a computer science student, just regular Information Technology. Other members of my team are completing media degrees and such.

I wouldn't have minded a smaller project, but I'm pretty happy with this one.

Well uh, I couldn't exactly give the task to other team members. They all had humongous workloads.

Anyway, the point of the thread wasn't really about testing. I'm just wondering if I should expect the same level of report writing in industry as I get in university.
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#6 modi123_1  Icon User is offline

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Re: How much report writing is there in industry?

Posted 31 May 2011 - 07:22 AM

Quote

How much report writing should I expect in industry?


Do you mean reports as in reports the users print off data from your application, or reports as in work done before you start coding so you know what you are actually doing (also known as "design phase")?
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#7 Hiram  Icon User is offline

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Re: How much report writing is there in industry?

Posted 31 May 2011 - 07:28 AM

Well, neither really. I'm talking more about progress reports as the project progesses. We're doing Agile for our project, about 6-7 sprints in total, and at the end of each sprint we're required to do reports stating what was done, what wasn't, what issues there were, and so on.

These reports make sense from a managerial point of view, and I can see the validity of programmers providing these to track progress. But yeah, not if the programmers spend more time churning out reports then churning out code.
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#8 Curtis Rutland  Icon User is online

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Re: How much report writing is there in industry?

Posted 31 May 2011 - 07:51 AM

Quote

But yeah, not if the programmers spend more time churning out reports then churning out code.


It's unlikely that you'll spend that much time writing reports, though while you are actually writing them, it'll feel like that.

Yes, at most companies you'll be expected to report your progress as well as your status. If you are using source control (and shame on you if you're not!) you should be commenting on the changes you commit. So you should be able to pull all your commits, read the comments, and refresh your memory on exactly what you've done.

It's something you'll just have to get used to. The managers either have no time or don't know how to read all your source code, so they need you to tell them where you're at. They need it documented so they can track you and your team's performance, and justify still paying you. In fact, it seems that the amount of reports you write is somewhat minimal.

Now, some other companies (usually smaller) just let you roll with it. The boss might say "how long until you're done", and you can say "maybe a week" or something, but that usually doesn't fly at larger companies with larger infrastructures.
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#9 modi123_1  Icon User is offline

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Re: How much report writing is there in industry?

Posted 31 May 2011 - 07:59 AM

Hurray for clarification.

The answer is "lots - sort of". Actual report-reports like that are usual sent out to the stakeholders who are not present at meetings. The reports themselves are usually translated into meetings and conference calls.

For example - in a past life I had "daily standup meetings". These were supposed to be super short blurbs about what you did yesterday, what you are doing today, if you over lap with anyone else, or have roadblocks that need help with. This is also where the bosses would push and pull you to different areas than you had planned. These started as ten minute meetings then moved to about thirty-forty minute affairs.

Then depending on the squeaky wheel of the requester there were weekly/biweekly meetings that would conference everyone in for the stake holders, testers, key knowledge folk, and the really higher ups. Grill fest.

Oh and there were funny meetings a week before testing deployment that were literal interrogations on your project's status to see if it could be bumped to a higher ring in the testing environments by the efficiency group.

Then there's the daily billing your time and what not. That has to be justified somewhere.

Yeah - there's a lot of time where you won't be coding. If your project manager/team lead/boss is good he'll take the brunt of it for you. If not, such is life.

Oh and like I mentioned - there's usually a design phase where you are not coding as well - just getting a design to have people sign off so you can have meetings about the progress of the code you are barely having time to write. Good times.. good times.

This is not to say the meetings are not important. In the larger scope you should want them. The day you go off, write some code, come back a month to check in and realize you are so far off base from the crazed babble the client told you is soul crushing. The scope changed and no one let you know, function creep, misunderstanding of what X does/did/was supposed to do, and so forth. Progressing is about making sure what you are doing is teh best use of your time.
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#10 baavgai  Icon User is offline

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Re: How much report writing is there in industry?

Posted 31 May 2011 - 08:06 AM

In the real world, "reports" in your context means "meetings." You don't write when you can speak. ( Or when you can get your ass chewed... ) Depending on the company culture, the project manager the programmer talks to might have to put something together for the suits up the line.

As to testing... the programmer can't really test their own code well. It's like being your own editor; you have the skill set, but aren't going to be at your best when dealing with your own stuff. You give it to someone who hasn't used it a thousand times before during development and they'll walk down paths you never even knew were there. Be nice to this person; the more bugs they find, the more you'll look like a hero when a bug free product makes it out the gate. That person might write up preliminary documentation and give it to the next tester in line to follow the docs to the letter.

Product development can be a big, messy, tedious process. However, programmers are usually more valuable to this process when they're actually coding and most places will acknowledge this.

This post has been edited by baavgai: 31 May 2011 - 08:13 AM

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#11 Curtis Rutland  Icon User is online

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Re: How much report writing is there in industry?

Posted 31 May 2011 - 08:18 AM

Also, as I've recently discovered, a good tester will test the requirements listed on the design docs verbatim. So don't get upset when they send you a defect about something that was dropped or changed, since that means they don't have the most updated version of the design docs, or something like that.


But I very much agree with baavgai. Testers usually aren't programmers. They know their job is to break your application, and they're going to do whatever they can to achieve that goal.

You trying that yourself won't usually work. You'll follow the logic you used when designing the program, and test all the cases you already thought of. Of course, you've already prepared for those cases. But a fresh set of eyes will find plenty of things you never even considered.

Just like you can read a report or paper five times and still miss a typo, but the guy you hand it to will notice it the first time through.
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#12 BenignDesign  Icon User is offline

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Re: How much report writing is there in industry?

Posted 31 May 2011 - 08:42 AM

I have several written reports due on a monthly basis - 1 site traffic analysis report for each of the 5 sites we're running (the college, the athletic department, the rec center, and two "wholly owned entities"), including projections for future traffic and explanations for traffic decreases and/or anomalies; 1 of what I like to call the "State-of-the-Department" report - current projects, upcoming projects, completed projects, completion timeframes, layout/modification previews, etc; and 1 marketing concepts report detailing "fresh, new" ideas, estimated costs, and implimentation schedules.

Aside from that, it's all email "mini reports", if you will - short notes explaining any changes to the existing reports.

So, as a coder in the field, I can attest to very little actual report writing. My list of monthly reports is started AND completed in one day... with considerable time left over for actual work.
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#13 Hiram  Icon User is offline

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Re: How much report writing is there in industry?

Posted 31 May 2011 - 09:16 AM

View PostCurtis Rutland, on 01 June 2011 - 12:51 AM, said:

Yes, at most companies you'll be expected to report your progress as well as your status. If you are using source control (and shame on you if you're not!) you should be commenting on the changes you commit. So you should be able to pull all your commits, read the comments, and refresh your memory on exactly what you've done.


I'm very happy writing progress reports, as I think they should really come with the job description, for the exact reason you talk about - it would be ridiculous to expect a manager to read your source code rather than just ask you.

View Postmodi123_1, on 01 June 2011 - 12:59 AM, said:

Actual report-reports like that are usual sent out to the stakeholders who are not present at meetings.


I'll clarify further! These are actually the kinds of reports I was talking about, that I've had a part in writing the past few months. Hurray for more clarification! :P

Our team has actually planned to do standups from the beginning of the project, but they've never gone ahead. I was hoping they'd be of benefit, but if they take 30-40 minutes, I couldn't imagine them being of any real benefit in the long run? They seem like they'd be fuel to make people want to get out of the meeting even faster. :P

The design phase is fun for me - I enjoy designing things before I code them, getting it signed off and whatnot. So I don't really mind taking a break from coding to design. It's mainly stopping coding to churn out a 15 page report that's draining my lifeforce, haha.

I actually enjoy the meetings as well, because they let me make a point, or clarify things right away. As an example, the first lot of coding had me doubling up a whole lot of work, because I was unclear how the client wanted it done, I did it both ways to be sure. By the end, I really needed a meeting to clarify if I should do it one way or the other. Now that I've had the meeting, my workload has been cut down a lot.

I'm glad I'm of the right mindset that a programmer shouldn't test their own code. Admittedly, when I was testing my code I did find bugs I wasn't expecting. But of course I'm sure there are a few more there I'm not aware of!

I couldn't see any reason to be mean to testers, personally. I know some people have gripes with them, but they're there to make everyone's jobs easier and make everyone look good in the end, so it's hardly fair to take it out on them for pointing out your bugs. Testing requirements verbatim to the design documentation is a good thing in my eyes; it shows integrity, probably an important trait for a tester, haha.

View PostCurtis Rutland, on 01 June 2011 - 01:18 AM, said:

Just like you can read a report or paper five times and still miss a typo, but the guy you hand it to will notice it the first time through.


I had this happen just last week, but with a piece of code, not a report. The error message was very obvious, I hadn't closed off a parenthesis, and it was even telling me the exact line. I was dead tired and spent nearly ten minutes looking at it. Then I turned to a friend and asked him, and he noticed it within two seconds, without me even pointing out the line the error was on.

@Benign, what you've said reports being completed in one day was what I was hoping to hear most of all. I feel much more at ease now!
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#14 ForcedSterilizationsForAll  Icon User is offline

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Re: How much report writing is there in industry?

Posted 01 June 2011 - 08:13 AM

A lot of this really depends on where you end up working. I've worked at places where the programmer does all the testing and at places where there are others that will test the code. Some places have peer reviews and some don't.

Some places are more formal with what they want progress wise, and others want just a simple overview.

So again, the amount of work you do outside of programming can vary quite a bit based on what policies and procedures the company has. There are places where you only code 30-40% of the time because of all the other hoops you have to jump through.
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#15 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: How much report writing is there in industry?

Posted 01 June 2011 - 08:40 AM

Put me down as "depends where you are, but... "
In my experience, there's usually a lot more in the way of requirements than compliance with them. The company policy says "document all software from soup to nuts, requirements, spec, testing, developer documentation, a user guide, nuts, hot fudge, and whipped cream. Cherry optional."
The immediate management says "Follow policy and get it done in a reasonable amount of time." The developers say "I don't want to deal with all of that, so I don't have time to meet with you to write requirements and spec this month" and then "I'm in the middle of writing it, so it's changing, so we can't write the requirements and spec yet" and then "Well, we've already written it, and we've got a new project, I don't have time to deal with the requirements and spec".
So there's always a stated requirement, and less often real attention to those.
I'm actually a technical writer, so I see a lot of this. It puts me in an interesting position at times...
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