Agile Documentation

A Pattern Guide to Producing Lightweight Documents for Software Projects


John Wiley & Sons (2003)

1. Finding the right topics

2. Structuring individual documents

3. Layout and Typography

4. Infrastructure and technical organisation

5. Management and quality assurance


In many projects documentation is taken to one of its extreme forms. Sometimes there is hardly any documentation at all, and the documentation that exists is hopelessly outdated. As a consequence, important knowledge will be lost. Other projects try to document everything and produce a lot of documentation that is much too voluminous to be useful. Many of the documents will never be read.

This book presents a more balanced approach towards documentation in an IT project. It is based on the principles expressed by agile development methods, which maintain a critical view of comprehensive documentation. The book recommends to produce only documents that have a purpose that can clearly be identified — a purpose which may manifest itself for instance in a later project stage or in a follow-up project. Moreover it's important to understand that team discussion and documentation complement each other, but should never be thought of as alternatives.

The book contains 50 patterns that first address the question of what kind of documents are necessary in a development project, and then moves on to discuss how documenation can be structured and shaped. The goal is to create concise and well-structured documents that offer high readability and make information easily accessible. The book concludes with management and process issues.

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