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What is documentation?

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Definition of documentation

Documentation can relate to two different types: products and processes. Product documentation describes the product under development and provides guidelines on how to execute actions with it. Process documentation, on the other hand, relates to all the material created during development.

Examples of product documentation

Product documentation tends to include requirements, technical specifications, commercial rationale, and product manuals. In contrast, process documentation includes aspects like obligatory standards, material outlining the wider project, plans, test itineraries, general reports, and even generic notes. Broadly, the difference between the two is that product documentation details an object (be it tangible or digital), and process documentation details the timeline of creation.

Product documentation template examples

Software development requirements document

A software development requirements document acts as the blueprint for hiring a software development company and offers valuable information about how software products should be developed. This document should include:

  • Introduction: The introduction of the SRS has to cover the document conventions, the purpose, references, intended audience, and the scope of the document. The system offers an overview of the software application to be created, defines the long-term objectives, sets the project's tone, and offers all participants clarity about the project. 

  • System requirements and functional requirements: The system and functional requirements section consist of the features and perspective of the product, operating environment and operating system, design limitations, user documentation, and graphics requirements. 

  • External interface requirements: Interface requirements refer to the software and hardware interfaces and the user and communication interfaces. 

  1. User interfaces include the screen layout, functions, buttons, and style guides.

  2. The software interfaces contain the database system, the platform, frontend and backend frameworks, tools, libraries, and operating systems.

  3. Hardware interfaces consist of the hardware component details like the nature of data, supported devices, and interactions.

  4. Communications interfaces should cover the network server protocols and the required communication standards. 

  • Non-functional requirements: Non-functional requirements should include:

    • Performance requirements

    • Safety requirements

    • Security requirements

    • Software quality attributes

    • Other requirements

Software project documentation sample

In general, software project documentation should include

  • User documentation including tutorials, how-to guides, explanations and reference docs, and videos detailing the functionalities of the software.

  • Developer documentation including system documentation, API documentation, README, and release notes.

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What is Documentation?

General FAQ

What is the main purpose of documentation?
Documentation’s main goal is to keep product developers and stakeholders on-track, helping to hit the targets considered essential for a project’s success. There are different types of documentation — products, and processes — with their own specific criteria.
How do you write product documentation?
Product documentation includes multiple elements. The writers will cover the roles of a project’s participants and their responsibilities, establish the goals for different teams or individuals, user stories, acceptance criteria, and questions that should be answered along the way.
Who is responsible for product documentation?
Product teams are generally responsible for product documentation, with the core developers being accountable for the more complex aspects. Ownership should be established as soon as possible, to avoid confusion or wasted time that may disrupt the product team’s efficiency.

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