Tech Standards / Types of Software Documentation

Types of Software Documentation

Software documentation, also referred to as source code documentation is a text that describes a computer software. It explains how a software works but it can also explain how to use the software properly. Several types of software documentation exist and can be classified into:

User Documentation

Also known as software manuals, user documentation is intended for end users and aims to help them use software properly. It is usually arranged in a book-style and typically also features table of contents, index and of course, the body which can be arranged in different ways, depending on whom the software is intended for. For example, if the software is intended for beginners, it usually uses a tutorial approach and guides the user step-by-step. Software manuals which are intended for intermediate users, on the other hand, are typically arranged thematically, while manuals for advanced users follow reference style.

Besides printed version, user documentation can also be available in an online version or PDF format. Often, it is also accompanied by additional documentation such as video tutorials, knowledge based articles, videos, etc.

Requirements Documentation

Requirements documentation, also referred to simply as requirements explains what a software does and shall be able to do. Several types of requirements exist which may or may not be included in documentation, depending on purpose and complexity of the system. For example, applications that don’t have any safety implications and aren’t intended to be used for a longer period of time may be accompanied by little or no requirements documentation at all. Those that can affect human safety or/and are created to be used over a longer period of time, on the other hand, come with an exhausting documentation.

Architecture Documentation

Also referred to as software architecture description, architecture documentation either analyses software architectures or communicates the results of the latter (work product). It mainly deals with technical issues including online marketing and seo services but it also covers non-technical issues in order to provide guidance to system developers, maintenance technicians and others involved in the development or use of architecture including end users. Architecture documentation is usually arranged into architectural models which in turn may be organised into different views, each of which deals with specific issues.

Comparison document is closely related to architecture documentation. It addresses current situation and proposes alternative solutions with an aim to identify the best possible outcome. In order to be able to do that, it requires an extensive research.

Technical Documentation

Technical documentation is a very important part of software documentation and many programmers use both terms interchangeably despite the fact that technical documentation is only one of several types of software documentation. It describes codes but it also addresses algorithms, interfaces and other technical aspects of software development and application. Technical documentation is usually created by the programmers with the aid of auto-generating tools.