From ArticleWorld

Documentation is any material that is used to explain the attributes of an object, system, or procedure. Documentation should describe the structure and components, or the operation of the product.The term is also used to refer to engineering or software documentation. Documentation can come in the form of a paper book or computer files.


A professional whose work is to write documentation is called a documenter. Normally, documenters have a background in technical writing, along with, at least some, knowledge of the subject they are documenting. Quite often, the documentation is done by the engineers responsible for the system, or product, that needs to be documented.

Hardware and software documentation

Common types of computer hardware, and software, documentation include online help, FAQs, HowTos, and user guides or manuals. One frequently used, related acronym is RFTM. RFTM has many different meanings including ‘’Read the full manual’’and ‘’Read the fascinating manual’’. These are some of the the least offensive, common expletives, beginning with the letter F, are also commonly used. This is often used in response to questions that could easilly be anwered by reading the documentation, and is intended to imply that the inquirer is wasting people’s time.

Types of documentation

Documentation is an one part of software engineering that is often overlooked. Types of software documentation include:

  • Architecture – An architectural overview of the software; including relations to an environment, construction principles to be used in design, and technical documentation.
  • Design - The design of the software components.
  • Technical – The documentation of code, algorithms, interfaces, and APIs.
  • End User – The manuals for the end-user.
  • Operator – The manuals for the systems administrator.
  • Application operator – The manuals for the superuser.
  • Help desk – The manuals for first, and second, line support.