Software documentation is an important part of application development process. No matter how good your application is, if the users don’t understand how to operate it, it’s useless. There are many ways to handle documentation, but one of the best methods I’ve seen so far is creating an app for that purpose. There are many benefits associated with creating a mobile app for your software documentation and I am going to share some of them with you right now.
Documentation is an important part of any software, mobile app or website. Developers might not like it but they understand the need for documentation. Documentation helps in increasing the productivity of the other developers on the project who have no clue how the current system was developed. It also makes it easy to train new employees and make sure that they are always up to date with the latest source code or changes made to it in past few months. Documentation provides necessary information about the project otherwise, things will be left for guessing. There are a lot of example of systems that were poorly documented which led their project to be closed down. If a software doesn’t have enough documentation then it can lead to development of more than one product with same concept, which will turn out to be a total mess down the road which needs to work on.
Choosing the right team documentation software is hard. There are a lot to choose from and they all come with great features, but they are also quite pricey. And I will be honest with you — most of them just don’t work the way you need them to. Nice thing is that there is one software, which is free (and open source), and it doesn’t only help you build your software, but it also helps you with your documentation process!
Software documentation is now a requirement for most software programs and solutions. Even if your application is solely for sale over the web, the typical review of user’s experience could include the need to document how the application functions. Software documentation can help those unfamiliar with your product or service understand how to use it correctly. A good documentation program can help in creating a great experience for both the initial release and any future upgrades. But what are the best software applications available that can help you create your next set of software documentation?
What is Software Documentation?
Software documentation is any written document that explains how a piece of software is built, operates, or used. For more complex software, it typically includes a section on general use as well as sections about each of the software’s various functions and features. Documentation comes in many forms, including user tutorials that demonstrate how to perform tasks, printed manuals or books with step-by-step instructions, or knowledge bases and FAQ pages on a company’s website.
Software documentation varies depending on the complexity of the software and the technical knowledge of the audience. For example, it can walk end-users through the basics of a piece of consumer software, assist IT and system administrators with software installation, and help software developers build or update programs.
Types of Software Documentation
There are many types of software documentation, from internal documents only accessible to software developers to user manuals for those who use a piece of software regularly. Two main types of software documentation are developer documentation and software documentation targeted toward the end-user.
Developer Software Documentation
Developers use a specific type of documentation created as part of, or in conjunction with, the software development process. These documents can include release notes that describe features and updates, README files in text documents that offer a brief explanation of the software, system documentation that describes requirements for installation, and API documentation explaining how to integrate and work with an API.
End-User Software Documentation
End-user software documentation provides information about how to install, use, or configure a piece of software. This type of documentation helps people understand how to operate a product. End-user documentation can include user guides, tutorials, troubleshooting manuals, and knowledge bases.
There are areas where the lines blur between different types of software documentation, especially when it comes to technical documentation. An example of this is the minimum system requirements for installing a piece of software. Even though it’s considered a technical document, it falls under end-user documentation because it’s writt
What Are Software Documentation Tools?
Software documentation tools streamline the process of creating and managing documents by making writing or distributing documentation faster and easier.
Many documentation tools give you the ability to publish your documents once complete and distribute documents to internal teams or external users. Some documentation tools offer version control systems so your teams can track changes made over time.
1. Software Documentation Tool: Bit.ai
Bit.ai is new-age software documentation and knowledge management tool that helps teams to collaborate, share, track, and manage all company knowledge in one place.
Whether your team is creating software documentation, technical specs sheets, training manuals, best practices, client support material, etc. they can easily add code blocks or embed snippets of GitHub Gists and Pastebin code directly into a Bit document. It’s a smart way to add context to the code snippets you are sharing.
Multiple people can simultaneously collaborate on a Bit smart document in real-time. It’s a great way for software developers to handle different aspects of the software together under a single roof. Bit’s sleek, minimal, and distraction-free editor makes a great tool for documentation. Users can also make use of Bit’s wiki features to interlink important documents, making it easier to share knowledge across documents.
The best part is Bit’s support for Markdown which allows developers to quickly create and format text without any distractions. Markdown is supported by GitHub and other software development tools, making it easy to share the work you do inside of Bit with other platforms. Once you are done creating your documents, you can easily export them as PDFs, Word files, Markdown, etc. or can even embed your Bit docs on your company website or blog!
Bit allows users to manage edit permissions and information access that suits your organizational needs. It supports features like document tracking, client portals, data rooms, password protection, access restrictions, etc. depending on your organization’s needs.
We recommend that developers use video recording tools like CloudApp and Loom to bring their video screen-sharing video tutorials directly into their technical documents. It’s a smart way to share screens and provide direction to your team, future employees, and customers you’re working with.
Bit works with these two applications along with 50+ other integrations to make sure your technical documentation brings in various types of digital content.
Bit provides a common workplace for software developers to collaborate, document, share their knowledge, brainstorm ideas, store digital assets, and innovate together. The best part is that this knowledge is safely secured in your workspaces and can be shared (or kept private) with anyone in your organization or the public!
Along with robust features and collaborative functionalities, Bit offers some beautiful, fully responsive templates for software developers to make the process a lot more fun.
2. Software Documentation Tool: ProProfs Knowledge Base
Employee onboarding is something you cannot ignore, especially in the case of remote workers who are spread across geographies and only have a certain idea of your firm and the work you do. This makes onboarding all the more crucial for remote employees.
The first few days of new employees are extremely crucial, as that’s when they have the time to invest in learning about your organization and the roles they are hired for.
For optimum utilization of this time, it’s best to use a tool like ProProfs Knowledge Base software – simple, powerful, and feature-rich.
This tool helps you create an online employee handbook to familiarize new hires with your firm’s work dynamics, policies, vision, mission, and, most importantly, the role that remote employees are going to play in your organization.
You don’t want your new hires to get bombarded with emails on the very first day of their joining. So, it’s best to offer them a platform that provides them all the relevant information they need to get started. ProProfs Knowledge Base software helps you achieve this with ease.
It’s an excellent tool to create a company-wide knowledge platform, more like an employee handbook, that can be accessed easily on multiple devices, including laptops, mobile phones, and tablets. The software’s compelling features, such as its MS Word-like editor, Google-like search functionality, customization options, workflows, and more, work together to provide you an unmatched experience.
Even minute tasks like adding text to multiple pages at a go, creating toggle content, adding your firm’s logo and brand name, etc. can be easily done with this powerful tool.
All in all, it’s a great tool to keep emails at bay, calls at a bare minimum, and provide remote employees with a smooth and hassle-free onboarding experience.
3. Software Documentation Tool: GitHub
If you work in the software world, the chances of you not being familiar with GitHub are next to nil. GitHub is a community for developers to host and review code, manage projects, and build software alongside 28 million developers.
GitHub believes in the power of quality documentation and knows that every healthy software project needs one. On GitHub, you can create well-maintained docs use GitHub pages and Wiki features.
GitHub pages let you convert your GitHub repositories and documents into a visually appealing website to showcase your portfolio, documentation, or your projects easily. GitHub pages provide you with one free webpage, GitHub hosting, and the ability to route a custom domain. Use Jekyll (a tool that converts plain text files into websites) and easily create an elegant web page.
If you don’t want a separate website for your documentation, every GitHub repository comes equipped with a section for hosting documentation, called a wiki. Wiki is the place to store details about your project- how to use it, how it’s been designed, and so on. It’s a great way to quickly store all the critical information about your project for others to use.
4. Software Documentation Tool: MarkdownPad
MarkdownPad is one of the most famous markdown document editors for windows. You can use MarkdownPad to write articles, READMEs, and of course, software documentation.
With instant HTML previews, users can quickly see what their documents look like in HTML as they create them.
MarkdownPad offers a lot of customizing options like color schemes, fonts, sizes, and layouts. It even supports your custom CSS stylesheets and has a built-in CSS editor. Users can easily convert their written text into HTML or even export their documents as PDFs.
With a simple, easy to use user interface, MarkdownPad is a great document editor for software documentation. However, the lack of cloud features and the fact that it’s only supported on windows can be a bummer for a lot of you out there.
5. Software Documentation Tool: Read the Docs
Read the Docs is a free platform for software documentation, used by millions of developers worldwide. Read the Docs simplifies software documentation by automating building, versioning, and hosting of your docs for you. Read the Docs hosts your software documentation for free and currently supports over 90,000 projects.
Apart from hosting your software documentation, you can even convert and view your documentation as PDFs, a single page HTML, and eReaders. without the hassle of any additional configuration. Developers can even host multiple versions of their docs easily on the platform. Read the Docs is free and is funded by its strong community of supporters!
6. Software Documentation Tool: Doxygen
If you want to generate automatic documentation from your C++ code, Doxygen is a great tool. Recently, Doxygen has also started documentation support for other popular programming languages such as C, Objective-C, C#, PHP, Java, Python, IDL Fortran, etc.
Doxygen directly extracts the documentation from the sources, making it easier to keep the documentation consistent with the source code. Users can then export the documentation in RTF (MS-Word), PostScript, hyperlinked PDF, compressed HTML, and Unix man pages. Users can even generate graphs and diagrams from the source code, making it a highly customizable and feature-rich tool.
Doxygen is free for use and works on all top operating systems- macOS, Linux, and Windows.
Types of Software Documentation
You can build software documentation in different ways depending on your specific requirements. Keep it internal for your developers or make it public for your end-users – it’s all up to you.
Here are the different types of software documentation you can create for your software product:
1. End-User Documentation
This type of documentation is created for end-users. It has step-by-step instructions on how to install, configure, and use your software. Such documents have how-to tutorials, videos, troubleshooting guides, and other resources that end-users need, to use your software.
Let’s now look at the top software documentation tools for both developers and end-users.
2. Software Documentation for Developers
This documentation is for internal use only. Built for software developers, it documents the software’s code, API, algorithms, and other technical details. It also includes release notes for feature or software updates, installation process, architecture description, and much more.
Software documentation has been a reliable way of learning how to use an app or program effectively. If a program is poorly written, there will usually be no documentation at all. However, if an app is well-written enough to have user-friendly features and attractive buttons, it will usually be well-documented. Software documentation is not just important for businesses. It’s also useful for home users to learn how to use their apps and program in the most effective way. Individuals can also keep their documentation up to date regularly if they want to.
Software documentation is an integral part in the software development process. Different types of documentation are essential for each stage of the software development cycle. There are several tools and programs that can help you create your own set of documents. These tools and programs not only create and edit your documents, but also can be used for educating your coworkers and colleagues about software documentation.