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Agile Documentation: A Pattern Guide to Producing Lightweight Documents for Software Projects [Paperback]

Andreas Rüping
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Sept. 11 2003 Wiley Software Patterns Series
Software documentation forms the basis for all communication relating to a software project. To be truly effective and usable, it should be based on what needs to be known. Agile Documentation provides sound advice on how to produce lean and lightweight software documentation. It will be welcomed by all project team members who want to cut out the fat from this time consuming task. Guidance given in pattern form, easily digested and cross-referenced, provides solutions to common problems.

Straightforward advice will help you to judge:

  • What details should be left in and what left out
  • When communication face-to-face would be better than paper or online
  • How to adapt the documentation process to the requirements of individual projects and build in change
  • How to organise documents and make them easily accessible
  • When to use diagrams rather than text
  • How to choose the right tools and techniques
  • How documentation impacts the customer

Better than offering pat answers or prescriptions, this book will help you to understand the elements and processes that can be found repeatedly in good project documentation and which can be shaped and designed to address your individual circumstance. The author uses real-world examples and utilises agile principles to provide an accessible, practical pattern-based guide which shows how to produce necessary and high quality documentation.


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Product Description

Review

many (Test Documents) would benefit from this treatment (Professional Tester, October 03)

"...applicable to documentation for any project...highly recommended..." (CVu, Vol 16(4), August 2004)

From the Back Cover

Documentation is the castor oil of programming. Managers think it is good for programmers, and programmers hate it! Jerry Weinberg in Psychology of Computer Programming

Andreas Rüping sugars the pill by giving sound advice on how to produce lean and lightweight software documentation. It will be welcomed by all project team members who want to cut out the fat from this time consuming task. Guidance given in pattern form, easily digested and cross-referenced, provides solutions to common problems. Straightforward advice will help you to judge:

  • What details should be left in and what left out
  • When communication face-to-face would be better than paper or online
  • How to adapt the documentation process to the requirements of individual projects and build in change
  • How to organise documents and make them easily accessible
  • When to use diagrams rather than text
  • How to choose the right tools and techniques
  • How documentation impacts the customer

Better than offering pat answers or prescriptions, this book will help you to understand the elements and processes that can be found repeatedly in good project documentation and which can be shaped and designed to address your individual circumstance. The author uses real-world examples and utilises agile principles to provide an accessible, practical pattern-based guide which shows how to produce necessary and high quality documentation.


Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Before we plunge into the actual patterns, I'd like to take a brief look at the projects from which the patterns in this book were mined. Read the first page
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Concordance
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Book to Have Feb. 18 2004
Format:Paperback
A good book to have if you are involved with software project documentation in any environment, including agile. I particularly liked Chapter 3 - Layout and Typography. It deals with things like proportions, line length in relation to page size, blank space versus text, etc.
One of the things that help me decide whether or not to buy a book is its table of contents:
Foreword
Preface
Acknowledgements
Introduction
Project Background
Ch. 1 Finding the Right Topics
Ch. 2 Structuring Individual Documents
Ch. 3 Layout and Typography
Ch. 4 Infrastructure and Technical Organisation
Ch. 5 Management and Quality Assurance
Final Remarks
Pattern Thumbnails
Glossary
References
Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Documentation, But not very agile Oct. 28 2007
By Ken - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Ruping did a good job of covering the topic of software documentation, albeit somewhat generically, i.e. not that specific to software development. He quotes a lot of others in his book and identifies that the goal (of agile documenting) is 'light-weight but sufficient'. If you're working on developing a system for documenting software development (or really any other technical project) this would make a good reference, but start at the back of the book. He uses patterns in his book as his technique to cover the topic. They are recognized problems and solutions, and he lists all of them in the back of the book in thumbnail form. The middle of the book provides the elaboration. The first part of the book is his professional history (sorry Ruping, but not that interesting), and his how-to-use-the-book section.
The problem I had with the book is that I didn't see anything new and innovating. I didn't have an `ah-ha' moment where I finally understood the real principles behind 'agile' documentation. I didn't find this book 'agile' at all. I also did not agree with all of his solutions, most seemed cliché. But again, if you're looking for a reference on the topic of technical documentation - this is not bad.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great concept May 7 2008
By Daniel Baker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As a tech communicator with long experience in various engineering environments, I am enthused about the concepts espoused here. We need to write "documentation" the way we like to read "documentation"; it needs to have the content needed particularly by us, in the style we need, and concise and to the point when our need begs for that. We need to look toward long term relevance and up-to-dateness - of all technical information, especially technical reference information, and it is more likely to be so if it is concise and focused to start with. We are all scanners, doing stuff or acquiring information in a hurry, doing tasks in a hurry. Another book told about how a new guy on a project was given a thick document about the project. Two days later, he had a headache; couldn't get the picture. If he were given an agile-ly written doc, he would have gotten the picture. Ginny Redish (Letting Go of the Words) is another great one along the same thinking.

ONE distractor: He wrote the book with a bit of his own fluff. Maybe to give the book a slight bit of thickness. Could have been more to the point. An engineer I used to work with used to say "paid by the pound".
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, but ok for the intended reader Nov. 13 2012
By J. Birkinshaw - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As a professional technical writer I was hoping to find insights on how to do my job in an Agile development environment, as my experience is in the slower-moving "waterfall" types of development. The book clearly says early on, but you couldn't tell from the description online, that it's really more about the design documentation that the development and test people will need to use among themselves. I wish I'd had a chance to borrow and skim for 10 minutes, I would have saved my money.

Given what it is, it's a good primer for developers to use for specs and so on. If those are well-done, the end-user docs are much easier to craft, so I'd recommend it to the intended audience.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting book that is not about Agile Information Development Oct. 21 2010
By Timohuatl - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The author misleads the audience with his title, "Agile Documentation." There is nothing about Agile methodology in the book, rather a way to produce "Lightweight Documents." It is conceivable that "Lightweight Documents" could be appropriate deliverables for products using Agile development, but he does not lay that foundation.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful book! July 4 2008
By tessa - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book about Agile Documentation turned out to be very useful, and is a kind of book I have been looking for. A lot of the same issues and conclusions regarding Software documentation we have discussed in our own Company are discussed in this book, and the advices from the author is very good. Written in a style that makes it easy and fast to read.
Everyone working with documentation in the software business should read this book!
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