Articles Questions

Updated September 29, 2022

Should You Automate Your Software Architecture Documentation?

Dr. Oliver Eidel

Question

For our software architecture documentation, we’re planning to have some high-level system diagrams. Drawing these manually seems inefficient, and we fear that they’ll be outdated soon when we continue writing code and forget to update them.

We’re considering automating this process by using tools which read your code and auto-generate software architecture diagrams based on it. What do you think?

Short Answer

No. Do it manually.

Long Answer

Your software architecture diagram should be on a rather high level (see the example here). It’ll be really hard to automate this with code because it’ll span across multiple git repositories and programming languages.

Also, the idea is to think about the architecture first before implementing it, and auto-generating it from your code assumes that you’ll write the code first. That doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Software Architecture vs. Interface Documentation

The story’s a bit different when it comes to interface documentation. An interface could be a REST API or the class / instance methods in object-oriented programming languages. There’s no value in having a human go through your code and write those down! And there are tools for that which do a great job.

As all regulatory requirements, try to approach this from an angle of “What could be useful for us?”:

Quickly drawing up some system diagrams before diving into code? Sounds like a good idea!

Documenting APIs so that new developers can be on-boarded faster? Also doesn’t sound too bad.

Try to avoid creating regulatory documentation only for compliance’s sake. It should be useful for you.

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Or, if you're looking for some human help, did you know that we also provide consulting, often guiding startups from start to finish in their medical device compliance?

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Dr. Oliver Eidel

I'm a medical doctor, software engineer and regulatory dude. I've helped 50+ companies with their medical device compliance. I mainly work as a regulatory consultant, but my goal is to make consulting unnecessary by publishing all of our articles and templates for free :)

If you're still lost and have further questions, just send me an email. Read more about me here.

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