Don't Forget the Application Document.

So, you've finished the product and it's time to wrap up the documentation. Sure, you have the Installation Manual and the User's Manual to get together. And internally you have your BOM and test suite. But now you have one more document to put together. We call it the Application Document, and without it your customers don't have a prayer of having a successful program.

Some companies fold the "AppDoc" and the Installation Manual together. Others treat them separately. But whereas the Installation Manual is concerned largely with the physical placement of the product in the RV, the AppDoc is concerned with the logical placement of the product in the RV-C network. It details how the product will operate in the network environment.

One section of the AppDoc should detail the RV-C basics - the PRODUCT_ID format and source addressing scheme. A second section should detail the DM1-RV messages (DSA, SPN-RV and Failure Modes) that the node may broadcast.

The largest section should list all the PGNs that the unit broadcasts. Each PGN should be explained fully, particularly where the RV-C document allows for interpretation or where the device does not support all of the features in the protocol. For example, RV-C often defines far more possible status values than your product actually supports. List the values that are valid, and if there is any ambiguity in the RV-C document clarify the definitions of each value.

Alongside that section is the list of PGNs that the device will parse and process. Again, be careful to clarify any potentially ambiguous descriptions.

The document should provide a table of the Required Inputs - the list of PGNs that are absolutely essential to the operation of the product. This may include, for example, the Chassis Mobility Status PGN if your product requires a safety interlock.

A thorough AppDoc will save you and your customers a tremendous amount of time and effort throughout the design, production, and service cycles. Put it at the top of your documentation priorities, and it will pay huge dividends.