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Agile Documentation: A Pattern Guide to Producing Lightweight Documents for Software Projects

ISBN: 978-0-470-85617-8
246 pages
September 2003
Agile Documentation: A Pattern Guide to Producing Lightweight Documents for Software Projects (0470856173) cover image


Software documentation forms the basis for all communication relating to a software project. To be truly effective and usable, it should be based on what needs to be known. Agile Documentation provides sound advice on how to produce lean and lightweight software documentation. It will be welcomed by all project team members who want to cut out the fat from this time consuming task. Guidance given in pattern form, easily digested and cross-referenced, provides solutions to common problems.

Straightforward advice will help you to judge:

  • What details should be left in and what left out
  • When communication face-to-face would be better than paper or online
  • How to adapt the documentation process to the requirements of individual projects and build in change
  • How to organise documents and make them easily accessible
  • When to use diagrams rather than text
  • How to choose the right tools and techniques
  • How documentation impacts the customer

Better than offering pat answers or prescriptions, this book will help you to understand the elements and processes that can be found repeatedly in good project documentation and which can be shaped and designed to address your individual circumstance. The author uses real-world examples and utilises agile principles to provide an accessible, practical pattern-based guide which shows how to produce necessary and high quality documentation.

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Table of Contents

Foreword ix

Preface xi

Acknowledgements xvii

Introduction 1

Project Background 11

1 Finding the Right Topics 19

Target Readers 24

Focused Information 26

Individual Documentation Requirements 28

Documentation Portfolio 30

Focus on Long-Term Relevance 34

Specification as a Joint Effort 36

Design Rationale 39

The Big Picture 40

Separation of Description and Evaluation 42

Realistic Examples 44

Experience Reports 46

2 Structuring Individual Documents 61

Structured Information 66

Judicious Diagrams 70

Unambiguous Tables 73

Guidelines for Readers 75

Thumbnail Sketches 77

Traceable References 78

Glossary 79

Document History 81

Experience Reports 82

3 Layout and Typography 93

Text on 50% of a Page 98

Two Alphabets per Line 100

120% Line Spacing 102

Two Typefaces 104

Careful Use of Type Variations 106

Careful Ruling and Shading 108

Adjacent Placement 109

Coherent Pages 111

Experience Reports 112

4 Infrastructure and Technical Organisation 117

Document Landscape 120

Document Archive 123

Wiki 125

Code-Comment Proximity 126

Reader-Friendly Media 128

Separation of Contents and Layout 131

Single Source and Multiple Targets 133

Import by Reference 136

Separation of Processing and Printing 138

Document Templates 139

Few Tools 142

Annotated Changes 144

Notification upon Update 145

Reorganisation upon Request 147

Experience Reports 149

5 Management and Quality Assurance 159

A Distinct Activity 161

One Responsible Author 164

Continuing Documentation 166

Writing and Reflection 168

Review Culture 170

Review Before Delivery 174

Customer Review 175

A Distant View 177

Information Marketplace 179

Knowledge Management 180

Experience Reports 182

Final Remarks 193

Pattern Thumbnails 197

Finding the Right Topics 197

Structuring Individual Documents 198

Layout and Typography 200

Infrastructure and Technical Organisation 201

Management and Quality Assurance 203

Glossary 205

References 211

Index 221

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Author Information

Andreas Rüping is a member of the patterns think-tank, Hillside Europe, and has acted as the chairman of several EuroPLoP Conferences. He has 12 years industry experience of software development, most recently as a software engineer and consultant at sd&m software design & management AG in Germany.
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??many (Test Documents) would benefit from this treatment?? (Professional Tester, October 03)

"...applicable to documentation for any project...highly recommended..." (CVu, Vol 16(4), August 2004)

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