Tech Standards / Technical Documentation

Technical Documentation

Technical documentation is sometimes used as a synonym for software documentation and vice versa, especially by the programmers although it is only a type of software documentation as the latter also encompasses requirements, architecture/design and user documentation. Technical documentation in large extent deals with codes which, however, aren’t enough to explain specific operations. Besides codes, technical documentation therefore also includes text that explains particular codes.

Who Uses Technical Documentation

Technical documentation is used by a variety of stakeholders, ranging from developers to installers, service technicians and operators to end users of software applications from many different segments of industry. Examples include safety, security, automated industrial production processes, transportation, energy, power and networks, to mention only a few. The organisation, language, design and content of technical documentation therefore must be created with a variety of stakeholders in mind.

Technical Documentation Content

As mentioned earlier, technical documentation puts a lot of attention on the codes but it also deals with issues such as interfaces, service providers, algorithms and application programming interface (API). But since it is also used extensively by the end users, technical documentation also includes information relevant for after the production process including functionality, operating and architecture. The content itself and its organisation must meet the needs of both the end user and administrator but in contrary to software manuals, technical documentation strives to provide all the necessary information for the user to understand the product, what it does and what the product should be able to do.

Creating Technical Documentation

Technical documentation is often organised in a reference or list style in order to enable the user to immediately find the information needed. The writing process itself typically involves the use of auto-generating tools. Examples include javadoc, ROBODoc, EiffelStudio, Doxygen and POD, to mention only a few. These allow the writers to extract comments and contracts available from the source code which in turn allows them to create reference or list manuals, usually in a form of HTML files and text.

Documentation of technical issues is typically done by programmers who rely heavily on the mentioned auto-generating tools because they allow them to write codes while referring to them and create source code for documentation at the same time. As a result, documentation is a lot easier to keep up to date. However, the described approach to creating technical documentation and editing can be carried out only by the programmers.