How to Write Better Software Documentation: 6 Tips

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Software Documentation

Technical documentation is the guide to using the software solution for different parties—developers, clients, and end-users. Due to the type of technical documentation, the accountable person or team for the writing needs to pick the suitable writing language to make it clear for the recipients.

Technical documentation requires collaborative work with the stakeholders, the development team, and future customers to make it correct and insightful. Further, we are going to name the approaches and practices that will help you make technical documentation writing simple but efficient.

Top 6 Tips for writing technical documentation

Everyone involved in the project needs to write tech docs

The technical documentation of a certain software project consists of various documents related to different development stages as well as software functionality. To write relevant and readable technical documentation, it is crucial to involve all software development team members to create these documents.

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Every engineer needs to outline the technical specifications according to the particular role in the project. If the technical docs are written by someone else, like a third-party technical writer, it is pivotal to send the ready docs to the engineering team for reviews and adjustments. There are two ways to arrange this process effectively. The first one is to ask each developer to write about his or her participation in the project, or the second one is to arrange a meeting with the entire team to discuss the project overall.

Technical documentation has to remain relevant

Before the start of the development process, the engineering team is accountable for collecting software specifications and writing them down into technical documentation of the project. However, these specifications and software features may vary during the development process, which also requires changes in technical documentation. In order not to lose the value of the docs, it is crucial to make changes according to the changes on the project to provide the client and the team with relevant information.

This tip needs to be applied not only to the currently active projects but it is also related to the completed software projects where the information still needs to be true and relevant. Sometimes the project docs are used for writing case studies or blog articles, where technical writers need to have real information about the company projects and clients.

Understand the audience you’re writing the documentation for

The main condition of writing technical documentation is to make it easy to understand for the client who requests software solution development. As the technical documentation starts with specifying the business needs and requirements in order to convert them into software specifications, you and the entire team will find out the communicative methods required for this or that client.

So, the technical documentation needs to be explained to the customer as it contains non-technical as well as technical data about the development process, software functionality, roles of developers, etc. Ensure the client is aware of what is going on in the project, keeping the client up to date about any changes.

Pick the files and data formats

There are various data formats you can apply for writing technical documentation using different tools. It can be PDF files, separate projects within management tools like Jira or Confluence available online, printed documents sent by mail, etc. All documents need to have a unified format within a certain software project. Basically, a single software project involves several formats of documents depending on the process and flow you want to outline and present.

We recommend selecting the files and data formats that will be easily accessed by all team members and project stakeholders, simply changed or adjusted according to the changes on the project, and so on.

Outline the documentation visually

Any technical documentation needs to entail visualization and data dashboards. Commonly, visualizations are applied for depicting the IT infrastructure of the entire company as well as single software solution development. Visual documents are used to illustrate the technical docs and show how the solution will actually function within a certain business company.

It helps the client and the development team better comprehend their tasks and responsibilities on the project, the timelines of the development, the tasks they need to execute, etc. For example, a function of signing in within a mobile app usually has a detailed description of what actions the end-user will have to take to sign in. The visual roadmap of this function will simplify this process for engineers as well as stakeholders.

Consider Hiring Technical Writers

As we mentioned before in this article, for writing technical documentation a software development company can hire a technical writer or several of them which you can find in writing service reviews Best Essays Education. Sometimes this approach can be even more efficient than writing tech documentation by the development team, who commonly have lacking writing skills.

The technical writer is accountable for depicting the project information 100% correctly. Thus, the writer needs to communicate so closely with each specialist involved in the project and development process, choosing the structure and language that will be clear for the team and the client as well. Surely, the final version of the technical documentation needs to be reviewed by the team to ensure the data is relevant and correct.

To Conclude

The process of writing technical documentation needs to be flexible. If you write the project docs at once and don’t consider the changes during the development, then such documentation will be completely useless for the team, stakeholders, and end-users. So ensure everyone involved in the software project is capable of contributing the knowledge to the technical documentation to make it valuable.

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Max Mitchell is the latest alumnus of our content marketing department. He is very passionate about typing, creating complicated spreadsheets, and consuming an inhuman amount of caffeine. Nevertheless, he is also the creative type of individual who will always find a new perspective on topics of interest.

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