System Architecture / Documentation

Subject: System Architecture / Documentation
From: Megan Golding <mgolding -at- secureworks -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: 16 Oct 2001 15:06:38 -0400

I'm working on an internal documentation project and am contacting
Techwr-l to gather ideas and opinions.

The project is an internal one, meaning employees of my company will be
the users. Our documentation will be used by QA to write test plans, by
the users to figure out how the heck this thing works, and by future
developers to figure out how the heck this thing works on a detailed

Here is what we have in mind:
1. javadoc for the methods and classes -- written by the devlopers
2. task-oriented docs for the features (as defined by the requirements)
-- written mainly by me, the sole tech writer
3. short high-level architecture overview -- written by the lead

Task-oriented docs will focus on the requirements so we can be sure we
cover everything QA will want to test (and, as a byproduct, we'll have
the user docs covered).

I picture the final docs as being composed of:
1. various javadoc files output as html and accessed mainly by QA for
white-box testing. Some of these may be referenced by item #3, below.
2. an introduction to the "big picture" of this project and a few
diagrams explaining how the components fit together (this will be fairly
short, though).
3. a requirement-by-requirement description of how to accomplish that

>From various readings and past experience, it feels like we're moving in
a non-traditional direction. I haven't seen many task-oriented internal
docs. Don't get me wrong -- I really like this approach. I'm wondering,
though, if we're going to miss out on some big piece of the puzzle that
needs documenting.

For techwr-l, my questions are these:

1. When writing internal documentation, what pieces are required to make
the project documentation complete?

2. Are we losing something by focusing our attention on documenting how
to accomplish the reqirements and not writing the grand architecture

Looking forward to your responses,


Megan Golding (mgolding -at- secureworks -dot- net)
SecureWorks, Inc.

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