When it comes to documentation, developers try to evade it as much as possible. Understandably, documentation, as a long drawn process, is something that all the technical minds despise. “I am the one who has made this, now why do I need to document it too”? If you are a developer, this line would be on the top of your head. However, one can only shirk away from documentation for so long. When you are starting off your career, you may be able to get away with evading documentation because of your impressive coding skills. Nevertheless, a good code can only take you so far. It is when you reach positions of slight seniority that you realize the importance of documentation. But, by then you start feeling it’s too late.
We don’t want to make claims out of thin air, we have arguments supporting our stand. Have a look at some of the major factors which highlight the importance of documentation in a coder’s life-
Code Over Documentation: Not Right, Always!
The potential of a software developer is always assumed to be in the quality of code they develop. Invariably, this encourages developers to be purely obsessed with creating high quality codes. In an attempt to repeatedly top the code quality, coders find themselves paying almost no attention to the documentation to support their code. Well, code over documentation is a need for some instances. However, making it a habit, and always prioritizing code quality over documentation can be self defeating. In the absence of proper documentation, a supreme quality code may also turn towards failure.
Therefore, one may focus on code over documentation when the situation demands. However, making it a routine habit and neglecting the importance of documentation may not be a wise choice. In fact, it can curtail your professional growth as a software developer, because you will come to be seen as someone with mere possession of technical skills, and lacking the ability to translate the process into proper written documents.
When we are talking about the importance of documentation for a developer, we ain’t referring to any business documentation. We are simply referring to technical documentation. For instance, inline comments in a code can be very important when someone else is trying to comprehend your code. Your inline comments can briefly state the objective of that particular piece of code. This will help the other person get a clear picture of how your have structured your project.
Nobody would expect a coder to illustrate what is the business sense that each section of his/ her code seeks to address. Perhaps that comes only with experience. Rather, technical documentation is all about giving a crisp record about the code, functionality, different stacks, etc. Your documentation should primarily focus on the steps that you take in the development of your software. It should contain the coding standards, design patterns, user flows, etc. Additionally, it must define the test types and tests flows, as well as testing results.
One of the major factors that highlight the importance of documentation for coders is to move towards standardization. Technical documentation plays a major role in standardization of communication for all the team members. It ensures the quality of proper communication among all members. On the one hand, if you properly document your code, functionality, stacks, etc., all members of your team would be on the same page. In short, other developers will be aware of what your position is. This leads to the second advantage, where maintaining documentation along with code quality can help others pick up from where you leave.
Effective documentation can help others understand your work easily, as well as give insights on how you may add value to it. However, it is very important that you documentation follows a standard format. You can add a few personal touches to it. But, using abbreviations and jargon only you understand will only defeat the purpose. Therefore, documentation for developers is all about moving towards standardization of records in a preset format.
Smooth Project Execution
If you have been a software professional for even a few months, you would know that any project execution requires seamless engagement between different teams and members. In case of misunderstanding, project execution can be a nightmare. On the one hand, the importance of documentation lies in smooth flow of information between technologies for frictionless project execution. On the other hand, API documentation becomes very important to facilitate communication between the frontend and the backend. Unless there is smooth functioning between the backend and frontend, friction-less project execution will only be a dream.
Now that we have addressed the importance of documentation for smooth communication between backend and front, let us look at some solutions for the same. Among the numerous solutions available to address this, Swagger documentation tops the list for most developers. By definition, Swagger is an open-source software framework backed by a large ecosystem of tools that helps developers design, build, document, and consume RESTful web services. Swagger plays an important role in helping developers build amazing APIs and the documentation enables seamless communication.
As a tool for API documentation, Swagger seeks to eliminate or at least minimize manual work in documentation. It helps software developers by generating, visualizing and maintaining API documents. The best part is that it automatically updates the API documentation when it evolves, helping the developer focus on the code quality. Isn’t that a developer’s dream, to focus on code quality and achieve documentation too?
Importance of Documentation: Code + Documentation = Perfect Project
By now it is quite evident that developers who couple their coding efforts with proper technical documentation are on the fast track to success. If you want to gain insights on how to weave in documentation to your coding schedule, hit us up. We are happy to help. After all, the coding community is a big family!