Technical documentation

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In engineering, technical documentation refers to any type of documentation that describes handling, functionality and architecture of a technical product or a product under development or use.[1][2][3] The intended recipient for product technical documentation is both the (proficient) end user as well as the administrator / service or maintenance technician. In contrast to a mere "cookbook" manual, technical documentation aims at providing enough information for a user to understand inner and outer dependencies of the product at hand.

If technical writers are employed by the technology company, their task is to translate the usually highly formalized or abbreviated technical documentation produced during the development phase into more readable, "user-friendly" prose.

The documentation accompanying a piece of technology is often the only means by which the user can fully understand said technology; regardless, technical documentation is often considered a "necessary evil" by software developers. Consequently, the genre has suffered from what some industry experts lament as a lack of attention and precision.[4]

Forms of technical documentation[edit]

Technical documentation may include:

During development, a multitude of document types will play a significant role:

and various intermediate or intervening documents thereof.

Standardization of forms[edit]

Traditionally, most forms of technical documentation have lacked recognized standards, though this is changing.[4] So far, ISO has published a series of standards related to technical product documentations and these are covered by ICS 01.110.[5] The ones that are not covered by ICS 01.110 are listed in the subsection below.

Discipline specific[edit]

Technical documentation formats for source data[edit]

See also[edit]