Tech Docs: The Unsung Hero
Software Developer Productivity Killer #10: Lack of Good Docs
Picture this: Bob, having navigated through unclear requirements, suffocating micromanagement, and the pressure of unrealistic deadlines, comes face-to-face with… a wall. Not just any wall, but a vast, blank barrier that lacks information, direction, and clarity. This, my friends, is the wall of poor documentation.
👮♀️ Why Documentation is Non-Negotiable
Documentation isn’t just a sidekick; it’s the hero of software development. It’s the translator between developer lingo and the rest of the world, and between past developers and their successors.
- Onboarding Obstacles: New developers spend countless hours, not in producing quality code, but in decrypting existing systems, trying to understand processes, and setting up their environment. Good documentation is like a lighthouse, guiding them safely to shore.
- Maintenance Mayhem: Without proper documentation, diving back into a codebase becomes a guessing game. Fear of changing code creeps in, and the result is stagnation, hesitation, and decreased productivity.
- The Wrong Kind of Adventure: Developers love problem-solving, but being forced to explore a project blindfolded because of lack of documentation? That’s not the kind of adventure they signed up for.
📄 Essential Characteristics of Good Documentation
- Dated and Versioned: Knowing when information was documented and which version it pertains to can be invaluable. It is imperative to be able to see and track changes to a document over time – who, what, and why.
- Searchable and Navigable: Use platforms like Confluence or Slab to ensure your documentation can be quickly located, through both searching and intuitive navigation.
- Templated Consistency: Uniformity in documents, like design doc templates or post-mortem templates, speeds up comprehension.
- Location, Location, Location: Docs should reside close to their point of use. READMEs inside repositories, FAQs in the help section, architecture diagrams in wikis, and so on.
- Stay Fresh: Outdated or irrelevant documentation can be worse than no documentation. Regularly review and prune as necessary.
🛥️ The Onboarding Advantage
A pro tip? Have your newest hires follow and enhance the onboarding documentation. This ensures a fresh set of eyes refines the process consistently.
And for a truly revolutionary approach? Consider integrating a bespoke private LLM AI system. Train it on your documentation and watch as developers simply query the system to get accurate, traceable answers straight from your archive. It’s an innovation Facet Digital is passionately pioneering.
📣 To all the leaders and developers out there, documentation is the unsung hero of productivity. Let’s give it the spotlight it deserves. And if you’re looking to revolutionize your documentation strategy, figure out how to weave it into your dev process seamlessly, or integrate cutting-edge AI solutions, please reach out. We’re here to guide your team towards unparalleled productivity.
✋ Just joining us? Take a journey from the start with our series on developer productivity killers, beginning with the very first post.