Software documentation is an umbrella term that can refer to wide variety of documents in software development and project management processes. Basically, they help people get oriented when using or working on a software.
There are two main kinds of software documentation:
Software Documentation should include the following:
For user-focused documentation:
For developer-focused documentation
Pro Tip: It's important to determine what kind of software documentation you'll need for your project early on. You'll likely need different technical writers for each, and your decision will greatly affect the structure, language, dependencies and content of your finished product.
Working on a software project? We bet you and your team members would benefit from a streamlined documentation process, and here are couple reasons why:
Unfortunately, software documentation is greatly overlooked. Whether you're producing documentation for users or developers, it will ultimately provide them with comprehensive information and get their questions answered. You'll save time that would otherwise be spent answering the same questions over and over again.
Pro Tip: Help readers answer their own questions even more effectively by taking use cases and past experiences into account when assembling your documentation. Providing a table of contents will orient them even further.
Established Workflows & Management Systems
Once you get into the habit of putting together software documentation, it'll help your project's (and business's) overall organization a great deal. Consistent documentation helps project teams establish solid workflows by building effective habits and producing reference documents that can be checked throughout the lifecycle of your software product and beyond.
As your project moves through different phases, you'll likely need to bring new faces onboard. Software documentation will help new programmers and developers get oriented quickly, allowing them to get to work and start contributing right away.
No one person is a master of everything. Keeping effective software documentation on a collaborative platform like Slite allows people to work together and unite their strengths. One person might be a source code and html expert, while another might know everything about usability, wireframes and UML diagrams. Effective software documentation means that team members can bring their top skills to the table and fill in their knowledge gaps by referring to others' contributions.
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Don't waste time sifting through files and wikis to find lost Excel sheets, Microsoft Word documents and screenshots. Keep all the essential information you need in one place by customizing our templates to meet your needs. They're free, look great and are easy for anyone to use.
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If you're ready to go, take these first steps towards assembling excellent software documentation. Begin by:
Knowing Your Audience
Think of your audience as your home page: you have to start from there. Determining whether you're producing documentation for users, developers or both from the get-go is absolutely key.
Considering Agile Practices
Agile practices are a popular approach to software documentation and provide helpful guidance if you're just getting started. They emphasize individuals & interactions, working software, customer collaboration and responding to change.
Think About Your Content Strategy
Software documentation should be comprehensive, but avoid including anything that isn't absolutely necessary. Be strategic. Consider what kind of documentation you've used so far and whether or not it was helpful in your development process. Determine what gaps currently exist in your documentation library.
Account For Version Control
Without a doubt, your software will go through many different versions by the time you get to your finished product. As methodologies, mock-ups, functionalities, metrics and deliverables shift (among other things), so will your documentation. Make sure you determine a process for updating documents and keeping track of different versions early on.
Voila! You're well on your way to getting together some killer documentation for your software development process. Your project team and end-users will thank you!