Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Why Don't We Document Our Software? Part 1: False Excuses

Quick what's the right answer:

a) We're bad writers
b) We don't like to write
c) We are too busy
d) All o the above

OK, trick question. The answer is: e) none of the above. Here is why:

a) Most software developers have at least a bachelor's degree from a liberal arts school. As a general rule we have at least as much training as the biology major writing the user documentation. Often we have more. Software developers write blizzards of email and fill up message boards with numerous comments. We can write.

b) If this were true why are so many open source projects some of the best documented systems out there? When programmers develop "for fun" we write documentation.

c) There is a kernel of truth in this. Everyone is busy. But the truth is we find time to do what's important to us (and our managers). Documentation just isn't.

In my next post I'll examine the real reasons we don't document our software systems.


  1. It would be interesting to see what your ideas on how it could be solved would look like. It's hard to motivate oneself to document once in a while, but the payoff is extreme. Wrote down some of my ideas in a blogpost here: http://blog.ituniv.org/2009/08/04/requirements-a-true-story/

    Looking forward to your part 2!


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