Hypertext Structures and Software Documentation

Authors:French, James, Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of Virginia Knight, John, Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of Virginia Powell, Allison, Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of Virginia

Software documentation represents a critical resource to the successful functioning of many enterprises. However, because it is static, documentation often fails to meet the needs of the many diverse users who are required to consult it on a regular basis in the course of their daily work. Software documentation is a rich resource that has not been fully exploited. Treatment of software documentation presents a number of interesting problems that require a blend of information retrieval and hypertext techniques for their successful solution. The evolving nature of a software project and the diverse demands on its documentation present an especially challenging environment. This is made even more challenging by the variety of information resources, ranging from formal specification languages to source code, that must be integrated into a coherent whole for the purpose of querying. In this paper we discuss the issues involved with automating the management of software documentation to better increase its utility. We describe the mechanics of a prototype system, SLEUTH, currently under investigation at the University of Virginia as a vehicle for software documentation management. The prototype maintains software documentation as a hypertext with typed links for the purpose of browsing by users with varying needs. These links are synthesized by the system and kept accurate under update. Appropriate authoring tools provide the system with the information it needs for this maintenance function. Ad hoc querying is provided over the documentation and hypertext documents are synthesized in response to these queries.

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Source Citation:

French, James, John Knight, and Allison Powell. "Hypertext Structures and Software Documentation." University of Virginia Dept. of Computer Science Tech Report (1996).

University of Virginia, Department of Computer Science
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