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COMP 523: Software Engineering

Assignment 12: Developer README


Monday, November 15th at 8am.


Many COMP 523 projects live on in some capacity after the semester ends. Sometimes there’s a follow-up project next semester. Other times, the client finds another developer to work on the project. In anticipation of a new developer starting work, it’s helpful to write a README that tells the developer what they need to know.

Furthermore, a README is a common part of real software projects, and it’s useful to know how to write and maintain one.


Add a file to the root directory of your repository (or, if one already exists, update it). Note that this file will be in Markdown format. The should have the following outline:

  1. <Project title>

    • A tweet-sized (280 characters max) summary of why the project exists.
  2. Getting started

    • Prerequisites: what other software needs to be installed before developing or running this software (e.g. Node.js)? Give specific commands to install the software, noting any assumptions about package management tools or operating system.
    • Installing: how can a user get a working development environment? Give step-by-step instructions.
    • Running locally: once everything is installed, how can a user start a local server?
    • Warranty: when (in terms of date or commit) were these instructions last tested and verified to work, by whom, and on what operating system?
  3. Testing

    • How can the user run the test suite? Give specific commands.
    • Any other test-related commands to know about, e.g. a different command for unit tests vs. integration tests?
  4. Deployment

    • Where does the production system live? How would a new developer get access to it?
    • Are there any staging or pre-production environments that developers can use?
    • What are the various pieces that the fully deployed software uses? For example, with Heroku, what addons does the app use?
    • Is continuous integration or continuous deployment enabled? If so, where does it live?
  5. Technologies used

    • List which technologies were chosen.
    • Mention where in the repository the ADRs live. (Add them to the repository if they’re not already there.)
  6. Contributing

    • Does a new developer need to get access to any systems (e.g. the GitHub repository, Trello) before he or she is able to contribute?
    • Are there any style, testing, or process conventions that a new developer should know about?
    • Include a link to your project web site for more background information.
  7. Authors

    • Who have the major authors been so far? This is your chance to acknowledge your own efforts.
  8. License

    • What license applies to the source code? I recommend a liberal open-source license like the MIT license or the BSD license, so that your client can have the legal right to use and extend your work later in whatever way they would like. (However, teams with an IP agreement with their client should be careful not to pick something without getting their client’s approval first.)
  9. Acknowledgements

    • Is there anybody else you’d like to thank, or any resources that have been especially helpful?

Add a link to your repository to your project web site.


You may want to use a Markdown preview tool to ensure before committing that your Markdown renders the way you expect. There are many such tools available.