Document Development Life Cycle

Phases of DDLC. Source:
Phases of DDLC. Source:

Documentation is considered a means of communication among software developers and software users. It includes written specifications for software, what it does, how it fulfils the specified details, and how to use it.

Document Development Life Cycle (DDLC) is a methodical procedure. It enables the creation of documents in a structured order. It's important while creating a document to improve its precision and understandability for end consumers.

Each member of the content management system must be aware of DDLC. It includes technical writers and other content producers. The content developers can improve the accuracy and quality of the complete documentation. For this, they must follow a systemic process. They need to deliver it on schedule.

DDLC can be divided in the following phases: Analysis and planning, Design, Content development, Proofreading and editing, Publishing, and Maintenance.


  • Why is the document development life cycle important?
    Technical documentation: Internal users vs External users. Source: Archbee.
    Technical documentation: Internal users vs External users. Source: Archbee.

    The objective of the workflow for user information/ documentation, is to:

    • Transform software use cases into designs for online and print information. This includes navigation and classification.
    • Implement the documentation design as an in-depth, accurate, and consistent set of information.
    • Make sure that the data is enough for people to use the product.
    • Generate or distribute the data in a timely and effective manner.

    It helps extract textual information on software specifications. This includes what it does, how it completes the required tasks, and even user instructions.

  • What are the stages of DDLC?
    Document Development Life Cycle (DDLC) Stages. Source: Wikimedia.
    Document Development Life Cycle (DDLC) Stages. Source: Wikimedia.

    To begin a software product's documentation process, the first stage is researching the target audience's needs and analyzing their pain points.

    The next stage is to design the document and break it down into smaller segments. Then, structure it with the appropriate format and style.

    Technical writers handle the content development stage. This stage requires domain knowledge and technical information. Reviewing and editing are also crucial. Technical writing tools ease collaboration and a transparent review process.

    After completing the first draft, technical and editorial experts review the document to ensure accuracy and generate feedback. The writers must integrate the suggestions to maintain quality.

    Technical writers take a printout of the document to ensure structure and address any minor issues. The content is published online with added links.

    A clear plan for frequent updates is necessary. It requires monitoring with authoring tools. Be responsive and provide users with instant information.

  • What tools are used for documentation development?

    Microsoft Word will work for a small company with one/two technical writers. This tool won't be enough for a larger company. They'll need to look at other authoring tools like ClickHelp to handle the development life cycle (DDLC).

    Technical writers can use translation tools to write. They can also translate their documentation. This helps to speed up the documentation process.

    Tools are required for taking screenshots. Pictures in software documentation help achieve better outcomes. They provide more basic yet thorough understanding of the product.

    Sometimes, the best option might be to use diagrams to present information. The major benefit comes from embedding a diagram from a cloud-based diagramming tool into a topic. All the diagrams across all the documents update automatically on updating the source.

    Inserting videos in online documentation is a recent trend. Documentation becomes clearer and enjoyable for the readers. Hence, it produces excellent results.

  • Describe the Spiral model of DDLC and the Waterfall model of DDLC.

    The Waterfall Model is a linear sequential approach to software development, where each stage of the development process must be completed before the next one can begin. It has six steps: Analyse, Design, Write, Revise, Distribute and Maintain. It has an advantage. Once the design is finalised, you don't need to return to the Design and Analyse phases for further iteration. Process optimization is achieved here.

    The Spiral Model is a more flexible and iterative approach that incorporates elements of the Waterfall model and prototyping. It allows for feedback and revision at each phase of development and is based on the idea of continuous improvement. It is divided into four parts: Analyse, Design, Write and Evaluate. The disadvantage is that, it is time-consuming. All four stages must be followed, every time the document needs to be changed/updated. There are similarities in both process models. Hence, there are challenges for the documentation team in both.

  • What are the challenges associated with DDLC?

    Document development can be a time-consuming process. And, deadlines may be tight, especially in fast-paced industries.

    The document's content might be complex or technical. This would make it challenging to present the information in a way that is easy to understand for the target audience.

    Keeping track of document revisions. Ensuring that everyone is working on the most up-to-date version can be challenging. This is particularly when multiple stakeholders are involved.

    Document approval processes may involve many stakeholders with differing opinions. It can result in delays and conflicts.

    It can be challenging to ensure that all documents are consistent in terms of formatting, style, and tone, particularly when multiple authors are involved.

    Ensuring that the documents are accessible to all users, including those with disabilities, may require additional effort.

    The document might be needed to be translated into multiple languages. This can add additional complexity and time to the development process.

  • What are some practical tips for technical writers?
    Required Skills. Source: Technical Writer HQ
    Required Skills. Source: Technical Writer HQ

    Understand the target audience and their knowledge level. It helps customize the writing style and language accordingly.

    Avoid using technical and complex terms as much as possible. Use simple and clear language that is easy to understand.

    Organize your content in a logical and simple manner. Use headings, subheadings, and bullet points to break up the content.

    Use visuals such as diagrams, charts, and illustrations. This would help make your content more engaging and easier to understand.

    Always review and edit your work. It helps ensure accuracy and clarity. Get feedback from your peers or subject matter experts to improve your writing.

    Keep up with the latest industry trends and technologies. This ensures the writing is relevant and informative.

    Use templates and style guides to ensure consistency in your writing style and formatting.

    Be open to feedback. Be willing to adapt your writing style to meet the needs of your audience.

    Continuously improve your writing skills by seeking feedback and learning from others. Stay updated with the latest trends and technologies in your field.



The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) releases the Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML). It becomes the basis of several subset markup languages including HTML.


Early desktop publishing and page layout software begin appearing on writers’ desktops. This includes products like Ventura Publisher, Interleaf, FrameMaker, and Aldus PageMaker.


ProEdit is founded in Atlanta, GA.


Writers begin using XML, an “eXtensible Markup Language”. It's is evolving from HTML.


The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 creates new opportunities for technical writers documenting policies, procedures, and internal controls.


  1. Bao, Francis. 2023. "10 Tips to Enhance Your Technical Writing Skills." Society for Technical Communication (STC). Accessed 2023-05-06.
  2. Chomal, Vikas Sitaram, and Jatinderkumar R. Saini. 2015. "Software Project Documentation – An Essence of Software Development." International Journal of Advanced Networking and Applications, May. Accessed 2023-02-22.
  3. Choudhury, Jaya. 2015. "Changing the mode of Software Documentation with Lean model of Software Development." Siemens Technology and Services Pvt. Ltd. CTDC AA, May. Accessed 2023-02-22.
  4. Claudiu. 2022. "Document Development Life Cycle (DDLC) for Technical Documentation." archbee, June. Accessed 2023-02-22.
  5. Document360. 2022. "Top 10 Tips for Great Technical Writing." Document360. Accessed 2023-05-06.
  6. Fechter, Josh. 2022. "What is the Document Development Life Cycle?" Technical Writer HQ. Accessed 2023-02-22.
  7. Julia. 2021. "Document Development Life Cycle (DDLC) for Technical Writers." ClickHelp, July. Accessed 2023-02-22.
  8. Kumbhar, G. R., B. B. Ahuja, and N. R. Rajhans. 2021. "Documentation Techniques to Avoid Delays in Project." ResearchGate, June. Accessed 2023-02-22.
  9. Priestley, Michael, and M.H. Utt. 2000. "A unified process for software and documentation development." IEEE, February. Accessed 2023-03-12.
  10. ProEdit. 2023. "History of Technical Writing." ProEdit. Accessed 2023-03-30.
  11. Rajamäki, Marjukka. 2017. "Producing “the necessary evil” – Documentation process and status of technical communication at a manufacturing company." University of Tampere, April. Accessed 2023-03-30.
  12. Royce. 1970. "Managing the Development of Large Software Systems." IEEE. Accessed 2023-05-06.
  13. Tracy Mack. 2022. "What is the Document Development Life Cycle?" MadCap Software, July. Accessed 2023-02-22.
  14. W3schools. 2023. "Document Development Life Cycle (DDLC)" W3schools of Technology. Accessed 2023-02-22.
  15. Wikimedia. 2020. "Document Development Life Cycle (DDLC).png." Wikimedia. Accessed 2023-03-30.

Further Reading

  1. Contributors. 2003. "Technical writer." Wikipedia, November. Accessed 2023-03-30.
  2. AltexSoft. 2023. "Technical Documentation in Software Development: Types, Best Practices, and Tools." AltexSoft. Accessed 2023-03-30.
  3. Semyon. 2023. "How to Create Sales Documentation." ClickHelp. Accessed 2023-03-30.

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Devopedia. 2023. "Document Development Life Cycle." Version 8, May 22. Accessed 2023-11-12.
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Last updated on
2023-05-22 06:26:58
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