March 31, 2011


Document Development Life Cycle (DDLC)

Technical writing is an expertise that enables people to understand the process of operating a scientific product. This style of writing is used in fields as diverse as computer hardware and software, engineering, chemistry, the aerospace industry, robotics, finance, consumer electronics, and biotechnology. Such technology-based documentation became a necessity, more than ever, in the latter twentieth century, with the advent of modern day sciences in inventions for everyday use, in an era of increased manufacturing - though elementary guides have been around for centuries. Therefore, companies finally arose to update the formerly most ignored part of software development life cycle (SDLC) documentation, as an important, in fact very important, aspect.

To make technical writing a success, technical writers follow the Document Development Life Cycle (DDLC), which includes the following phases:

Understanding the Requirements

This is the initial stage where a technical writer gathers information and then analyses the actual requirement. The available information must be properly mapped with the requirement so that the flow moves in the right direction. A technical writer must understand the various features of a software/product by exploring it and meet the subject matter expertise (SMEs), to gather all valuable information. A good technical writer must always be ready to converse with the SMEs related to the software/product.

Audience Analysis

Audience is an inseparable part of the documentation. Technical writers develop documents for audiences or users. The technical writer must know the audience type that is going to use the software/product. Across the world, audiences vary as per the software/product. There are many types of audiences, out of which the main two categories are - general audience (novice audience) and experienced audience (special audience).

Outlining the Document

Outlining means creating an overall plan of the document, which is also known as the skeleton framework of the document. This framework comprises of preface or introduction, table of contents, chapter information/sequence, index, glossary etc. A technical writer only needs to explain all the elements, once the plan is ready.

Preparing Prototype

Preparing a prototype comprises of template consideration, developing a style guides, creating a sample section of the document.

A template depicts the physical appearance of the document. While designing the template, you need to consider all the specifications, styles, and standards required for the document. This includes page size, page margins, header/footer, heading styles, font type, font size, and figure/table representations etc.

A style guide is a set of standards to be followed to design and write documents. This guide contains information regarding the various styles defined for the document template. It consists of definitions of various styles that are to be used in the document.

Developing Document

This phase includes writing the full-fledged manual covering all definitions, procedures, and other related information. It also includes other activities, such as developing glossary and index.


Review means to check the document thoroughly for any errors and other corrections. The three types of reviews are: peer review, technical review and functional review.


Packaging means making a document ready to deliver to the client. There are two types of packaging:  book design and binding; and integrating help in application. If the help manual is in book format that is supposed to go along with the product, it goes for printing to produce copies. Online help is integrated with the help of software developers in the respective application. Online help is always delivered with the help of CD or other devices that can be used to carry the data. There are different types of such deliveries to help the clients, depending on the product.

To know more about Document Development Life Cycle (DDLC) please click here

To know more about Document Development Life Cycle (DDLC) please click here