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Saturday, February 4, 2012

What are the tips to achieve effective software testing documentation?

As we all know that documentation is some written text that comes along with any software system or application. Though being just a plain text its importance cannot be neglected.
Without it, we won’t be able to make the full use of the software system or application. It explains us its features and functionalities and how to use it effectively. Documentation has a very important role to play in the field of software testing:

1. It gives an overview of the design or architecture of the software system or application. It explains how the software is related to the environment and what basic principles have been used in constructing the software system or application.

2. It gives technical knowledge about the concerned software system or application. It provides the documentation of the code and other legal aspects of the software.

3. It contains the algorithm used in the software system and provides explicit knowledge about the user interface of the software system or application.

4. Documentation states the requirements of the software system and functionalities whether it be functional or non functional requirements. Other aspects like capabilities, attributes and characteristics of the software system or application are also mentioned in the documentation.

5. It contains tips on how to market the product.

6. Documentation also contains end users manuals and other supportive manuals meant for support staff and administrators.
For documentation to prove effective has to be written properly in a designed way.

Writing effective documentation is also a recognized skill in the software industry. Here we are going to discuss some tips which if followed can help you improve the quality of your documentation.

1. You should be familiar with all the format types of the documents like PDF or HTML. You should be able to work with all the types. It may happen some times that when you transfer your write up to the documentation software, it may not show up exactly as you desired. So don’t waste your time by unnecessarily formatting your text. Choose your documentation software with great care.

2. Divide your documentation process into following stages:

(a) Information gathering: First gather all the information that you will need to include in your documentation.

(b) Prototyping of the documentation: In this stage you will create a list of just the topics that you have to include in the documentation in the order you desire. Your list may contain samples against each topic for your ease and convenience.

(c) Initial drafting: This stage involves writing up of all the content under the relevant topics that you have already listed. This will take up most of your time. After you are done with the writing, just review it once.

(d) Final drafting: At this stage you have to review your documentation once more so as to check whether any changes are required. The documentation is now ready.

3. It is always observed that the documentation is always processed at the end i.e., when the dead lines are nearing. This should not be done since the documentation does not get much time for effective reviewing and changes. So it becomes important that we consider the documentation from the initial stage of software development.

4. The preparation of the documentation becomes more simple and easy if your organization has an expert documentation writer. But what if you don’t have? A programmer can himself/ herself write the documentation since he/ she knows the program really well. But the documentation won’t be so effective if the programmer has not got good skills in writing.

Whatever the case maybe, always remember that the documentation does affect the user’s opinion about the program. So keep it simple, effective and impressive.

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