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Experience Using the Web-Based Tool Wiki for Architecture Documentation

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journal contribution
posted on 01.09.2005, 00:00 by Felix Bachmann, Paulo F. Merson
In an organization that uses an architecture-centric development approach, it is the purpose of the software architecture, especially the product documentation, to guide all stakeholders who contribute in one way or another to the development of the product(s). Unfortunately, in many organizations, this documentation ends up on the shelves, unused and collecting dust. This happens in part because it is difficult to keep the architecture documentation current, hard for nondevelopers to understand what the documents describe, and challenging for nondevelopers to use the tools necessary to access the documentation. This technical note discusses the benefits and challenges of using a wiki-based collaborative environment to create software architecture documentation. The findings are based on two experiences. The first was that of a team of Carnegie Mellon University Master of Software Engineering (MSE) program students that used the wiki tool in a real-world software project. For its customer, the team had to produce and document the architecture of a system that will be developed by many geographically distributed teams. The second experience was a study conducted by another MSE student to reconstruct and document the architecture of a multitier enterprise application using the wiki tool and UML 2.0.