A mapping study on documentation in Continuous Software Development

Theo Theunissen*, Uwe van Heesch, Paris Avgeriou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
311 Downloads (Pure)


Context: With an increase in Agile, Lean, and DevOps software methodologies over the last years (collectively referred to as Continuous Software Development (CSD)), we have observed that documentation is often poor. Objective: This work aims at collecting studies on documentation challenges, documentation practices, and tools that can support documentation in CSD. Method: A systematic mapping study was conducted to identify and analyze research on documentation in CSD, covering publications between 2001 and 2019. Results: A total of 63 studies were selected. We found 40 studies related to documentation practices and challenges, and 23 studies related to tools used in CSD. The challenges include: informal documentation is hard to understand, documentation is considered as waste, productivity is measured by working software only, documentation is out-of-sync with the software and there is a short-term focus. The practices include: non-written and informal communication, the usage of development artifacts for documentation, and the use of architecture frameworks. We also made an inventory of numerous tools that can be used for documentation purposes in CSD. Overall, we recommend the usage of executable documentation, modern tools and technologies to retrieve information and transform it into documentation, and the practice of minimal documentation upfront combined with detailed design for knowledge transfer afterwards. Conclusion: It is of paramount importance to increase the quantity and quality of documentation in CSD. While this remains challenging, practitioners will benefit from applying the identified practices and tools in order to mitigate the stated challenges.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106733
Number of pages29
JournalInformation and Software Technology
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2022


  • Agile
  • Continuous Software Development
  • DevOps
  • Documentation
  • Lean
  • Systematic mapping studies
  • Systematic reviews

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