All digital products, services, and business processes on the most initial development levels require some input data. Structured and well-prepared this data transforms into technical documentation. It is a kind of a map that masters complex navigation tasks for the captain its user.
How to provide clear directions for users to find their way as well? What is the purpose of technical documentation and how to write it professionally?Let's explore this terra together.
From the medieval Chaucer's user manual to the astrolabe to today's app guides — technical documentation is an essential part of our life since man began to invent great things and mastered writing.
Technical documentation in the software development world is the umbrella term that encompasses the scope of documents created through the whole software development lifecycle. These documents contain information about the product from its purpose to the full architecture.
Tech documentation goals are to:
Different specialists may be responsible for writing technical documentation: technical writers, project managers, engineering team members, or other subject-matter experts on the product in question. Even if your app is complex, your documentation should be concise and clear. Next, we will describe how to achieve it.
According to the target audience and described subjects, technical documentation in software development is divided into different types (they'll be discussed below). But the main purpose is common — a good tech document <medium>should be searchable and useful<medium> for the intended audience <medium>to use your product and understand your processes.<medium>
Good technical documentation <medium>conveys information in a simple and clear way<medium> so that anyone can understand it. It shouldn't require a Ph.D. to make sense of it (highly-tech system documents for engineers as an exception). A good one is going <medium>to get you using the product or handle processes right away<medium>, while the other will make your brains puzzle over it.
Finally, good technical documentation <medium>covers all necessary scope of project-related data in a concise manner<medium>. It shouldn't be a Royal Annals and Chronicles. Brevity is the soul of wit (and of a great tech document too).
Well-written technical documentation allows all parties to achieve their goals:
The main goal of software documentation is to ensure that all <medium>stakeholders and the project team keep on the fairway<medium>. In other words, such documents let you be sure that all parties go in the same direction to accomplish project goals. So, <medium>it's your lighthouse, roadmap, and guiding star<medium> on the path of the software development process.
Documentation in software development is an <medium>omnipurpose<medium> thing. From the end-user point of view, it is essential because it helps them use a product properly. From an internal point of view, it is crucial because it gives the development team the information to effectively work on a product, whether it is highly technical data or an overview of planning.
Tech documentation is divided into two main groups:
The main <medium>difference between product and process documentation<medium> in software development is that the first one describes a digital product, while the second one fixes the full development process providing all additional data.
Let's highlight technical documentation types in more detail.
Product documentation is a broad term that includes multi-purpose documents <medium>describing essential information for:<medium>
Well-organized system documentation provides a number of benefits — namely it:
In its turn, <medium>end-user documentation covers<medium> such documents as tutorials, user guides, installation, and reference manuals, that are mainly prepared for end-users of the product.
These documents provide an <medium>insight into the system without exposing the full codebase<medium> but allow comprehensive info about product usage.
Also, this type of documentation is useful for different auditing activities, e.g. due diligence before a funding round.
Process documentation represents the scope of documents produced during all development stages, from the discovery phase to the maintenance. Each process document is specific to the particular phase and covers its particular goals. Also, it:
The common examples of process-related documents:
Please note that <medium>there is no one-tech-documentation-fits-all<medium>. The above classification of technical documentation in software development is not exhaustive. Each of the described types <medium>can be changed and customized regarding the particular use case.<medium>
Wall of text and unstructured data is bad documentation. Even worse is the lack of documentation.
We at Freshcode follow highly structured stages of the technical document preparation process. Here we are going to describe them briefly and share some tips on how to write good technical documentation. An example of our step-by-step guide <medium>may become a perfect how-to for your use case.<medium>
So, let's start.
Technical <medium>documentation gaps provoke misunderstandings<medium> between the product development team and client representatives. As a result, the software product won't meet initial requirements. Consequently, all parts of the software development process should care about technical documentation quality.
Freshcode provides a <medium>deep look into the different technical details<medium> that make up a product involving different subject-matter experts. Our team creates technical documentation following the 4 key rules:
We've invested a significant amount of time and effort to create a <medium>step-by-step technical documentation template suitable for various types of products and business domains<medium>. And we know for sure that well-written technical documentation speeds up the product development process and makes it thoughtful, effective, and safe.
Freshcode specialists provide partners with deliberate and comprehensive project data and consult clients on how to write technical documentation and what tools to use. Our representatives are always ready to discuss this in detail. Please, fill out the form on our website or contact our representative on Linkedin.