Re: Xtreme Programming / Agile Development and Documentation

Subject: Re: Xtreme Programming / Agile Development and Documentation
From: Martha J Davidson <editrix -at- nemasys -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Fri, 18 Nov 2005 14:47:12 -0800

At 01:57 PM 11/18/2005, HSC Italian wrote:

If anyone has been the tech writer for a project where the Xtreme programming mehtod was used, and have ANY insight on a process for documentation, or how I could learn how to work in this environment better, that would be much appreciated.

I am not sure what you are looking for; can you ask more focused questions?

I have worked at two companies now where Xtreme Programming and Agile development were the primary practices. The main difference is that there are few formal specs; instead, there are planning meetings from which "stories" and "scenarios" emerge and the developers build the software to respond to specific stories. I use the stories as guidelines for documenting the additions and changes to the software.

One thing that's worked for me is having close relationships with the developers, and knowing who is working on what part of the project. As I write each new section of the docs or change existing sections, I take those sections directly to the appropriate developer(s) and have them review what I've done. Usually pretty small chunks at a time. Or when it's a bigger chunk, or a whole new manual, I've bought a set of colored pens and had each developer choose a color and add their comments all on the same printout, so they don't have to duplicate stuff someone has already said.

What else? I learn the software as well as I can by using it at each stage of development, so that I can write as much as possible without needing written specs. When there's something new, I have the developer in charge show me how it works, then I go away and write about it. Mostly, I keep my ears open and ask questions when I hear about something that might need documenting. Part of XP is an open work environment, which works for me. I have a partially open cube on the edge of the developers' "bullpen" area, and I walk over and hang around when conversations catch my attention, and ask questions when I want to understand more. That's partly why I choose not to telecommute; I think I might miss out on important information and I don't want that to happen.

Does this tell you want you wanted to know? How else can I help?

Martha Jane {Kolman | Davidson}
Dances With Words
editrix -at- nemasys -dot- com

"Too many words bring about exhaustion."
--Tao Te Ching, Chapter 5 (translated by Sheets/Tovey)


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Xtreme Programming / Agile Development and Documentation: From: HSC Italian

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