We’ve developed technical documentation for the global media company’s software.
Our developers have been upgrading and expanding our software for more than 15 years already but due to the lack of documentation, it is becoming more and more challenging for new experts to create additional features.
It is difficult to “predict” the right behavior of the system and every time when new functionality is added, something goes wrong.
We would like to find an efficient way to transfer knowledge to new developers for further maintenance of our software.
We are afraid that due to the lack of documents containing system descriptions the risk of its malfunctioning in the future is higher.
Without documentation, it is more difficult for us to estimate costs and terms for adding new functionality.
On this small project, our client was a global media company that produces and distributes print, digital, and video content of the world’s leading brands. The company had two obsolete software products written in Delphi 7:
The client didn’t have any system tech documentation for the existing software products and only two in-house Delphi developers had all the related knowledge in their hands. That’s why the client asked us to develop tech documentation in order to:
If it is required to expand the app, the documentation will facilitate the process of modernization and will let estimate the costs of adding new functionality to the existing system more precisely.
When new developers come to the project, they see just a huge code with an unclear architecture and try to understand how to work with it. A significant part of work time is devoted to diving into the context (close analysis and study) and not to the development itself. That’s why the Softacom team had a key task to create documentation for 600 000 code lines, which would reduce the time needed for new developers to understand the project from 3-4 weeks (120-180 hours) on average to 20-30 hours
With technical documentation, a developer will faster understand what he is working on and will have fewer issues in accepting “heritage from other developers”. Without project documentation, a huge part of the development costs is allocated for studying “how it works”,” what it is” and “why it is so”. And it is nearly 30% of the project budget.
It is important to have a clear understanding of whether it is possible to integrate new functionality into the existing system in case of the necessity to expand the app.
When people leave a company, they take away the knowledge about the parts that they have created. The modernization and support of unclear parts become a very expensive task as it is necessary to study how everything is working at the moment and to build something new based on it.
We’ve divided the process of tech documentation creation into 3 important steps:
Step 1 – System overview
In the first turn, we’ve described the general functionality of the obsolete software:
Step 2 – Detailed documentation
After describing the overall functionality, we’ve added a detailed description that explains the most complicated system aspects.
We’ve created diagrams of different software blocks and the interrelations between them. We’ve also described the scenarios of using blocks and described each code fragment in them.
The inherited code has a lot of exceptions from the normal stream. They all were introduced because of valid reasons. But it is rather difficult to find these reasons and sometimes completely impossible. However, we can document them.
Step 3. Creation of a service and update schedule
Technical documentation is vivid content that should be reviewed and updated in accordance with new product releases or upgrades.
$ 18 000
As a result of the documentation development, we’ve managed to add clarity to the understanding of obsolete software functioning. New tech documentation includes the description of programming code and its functions, data structures, algorithms, APIs, and interfaces. It also contains a detailed description of code functioning and the rules for using it.
We needed 3.5 months to create well-structured technical documentation with straightforward navigation. Now, end-users know for sure what they are reading. They can get a brief overview of all the information covered in documents and have contents with each step description which allows them to easily proceed to the most relevant part. No more senseless clicks and searches during code maintenance or new feature integration. It helps to save 40% of developers’ time and the company’s budget.
The developed technical documentation allowed the company to overcome its dependence on the knowledge of developers about the system’s functioning.
Now it is possible to plan a budget for adding new functionality, integration, or further migration with a high level of accuracy.
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