If you are a developer, you’ve probably already heard everything about code documentation. The importance of coding standards and code comments are well known by all IT professionals. But the topic of code best practices documentation is not very popular and is often neglected. If we want to produce user-friendly software, we need to create a good documentation.
Best documentation tools and software depend on programming languages — C, C++, Java, PHP, Python etc. Probably they will differ slightly depending on the programming language you specify. What is common for all best documentation tools and software is that they provide comments and help boost developers’ productivity. Documentation processes vary but do not depend on software or platform in general: good documentations are always needed in every project.
Being a developer means you sometimes need to create installation instructions, application documentation, or other instructions to help users. This can be a challenge for developers who may not be good at writing documents. But don’t worry — there are plenty of tools you can use which will make this a lot easier.
If you are looking for best software documentation tools, you can refer this article. Different types of software documentation tools are being used in the industry. Check best software documentation tools available in the market. To get more information, read this article…
Top Software Documentation Tools for Developers
As we discussed in our previous article, software documentation includes many digital artifacts and assets that are mostly accessed by the development team.
- README files
- API documentation
- Software version release notes
Essentially, we’re talking internal documentation created by and for the dev team in reference to a specific tool or software.
Because of the specialized nature of their software, dev teams typically look for document collaboration tools that can be tailored to their specific needs.
GitHub Wiki and Pages
GitHub Wiki is one of the most commonly-used tools for software and technical documentation — among many other processes.
Each new repository comes equipped with a wiki, through which dev teams can create and share technical documentation for their software. The tool can also integrate with Jekyll via GitHub Pages, allowing teams to further customize the structure and appearance of their documentation.
Overall, GitHub Wiki makes for a user-friendly alternative to the plaintext, interface-free README files dev teams often work with.
GitHub Wiki and Pages Features
- GitHub Pages offers numerous customizable themes for Wiki pages
- Integration with Jekyll enables further customization
- One free customized domain name allowed
GitHub Wiki and Pages Pricing
- GitHub Wiki and Pages are available through GitHub Team at $4/user per month
- GitHub’s Enterprise tier starts at $21/user per month
Read the Docs
Read the Docs is an open-source software documentation tool that promises to simplify the process for dev teams by automating building, versioning, and hosting their technical documents for them.
Developers can import projects via GitHub, then use Sphinx to further customize their proprietary documentation tool. This includes tweaking document and library structure, along with the tool’s overall user interface.
Read the Docs Features
- Docs viewable as web pages, PDFs, HTML, and eReader files
- Branching and versioning ensures no overlap when updating docs
- Free hosting with a custom domain
Read the Docs Pricing
- Free, open-source tool and hosting for one build
- Premium Options:
- $50/month for 2 builds, 48-hour support response time
- $150/month for 4 builds, analytics features, and advanced customization options
- $250/month for 6 builds, advanced analytics, and 24-hour support response time
Haroopad, by HarooPress, is a highly-visual document processor for technical and development teams.
The charm of Haroopad is in its simplicity. As stated on the team’s website, “Markdown is simple, but has…portability and extensibility. The goal of the Haroopad is also simple: To be a web friendly document editing tool.”
Still, Haroopad manages to deliver the functionality and customizability we’ve come to expect from these open-source solutions.
- Themes, skins, and customizable UI components
- Import files from YouTube, Twitter, Vimeo, Slideshare, Flickr, Instagram, and more
- Export documents to Workpress, convert to PDF/HTML
- Haroopad is completely open-source.
Top Overall Software Documentation Tools
Software documentation also encompasses any documents created with the user in mind.
Incidentally, “the user” may refer to the various members of your team, or it may refer to your customers.
A few examples here include:
- Onboarding tutorials
- Advanced how-to guides
- Troubleshooting documentation
While the dev team may also have a hand in creating user documentation, the process may also involve marketing, sales, customer services — and any other customer-facing department within your organization.
That said, you might want to consider looking for a software documentation tool that’s more user-friendly to your less technically-minded team members.
With Helpjuice, teams can create, publish, and deliver helpful software documentation to internal users, and to the customer. On the user’s end, Helpjuice presents this documentation through an intuitive, user-friendly interface — allowing for maximum browsability and digestibility of information.
Overall, Helpjuice allows you to develop software documentation with the end-user in mind.
In some cases, this may mean diving deep into technical explanations and information. In others, it may mean delivering technical information in a more simplified, comprehensible manner.
Either way, using Helpjuice to create a knowledge base will ensure you can create and share great documentation with the relevant stakeholders.
- Limitless authoring, formatting, and editing of text and multimedia content
- Templates for streamlined knowledge creation and organization
- Advanced search functionality makes finding the right document a cinch
- Permissions ensure individuals only have access to the necessary areas of your knowledge base
- Integrations allow content to flow freely from your knowledge base to other tools and platforms
Regardless of pricing tier, all Helpjuice users get access to all of the tool’s features.
- For 4 users: $120/mo
- For 16 users: $200/mo
- For 60 users: $289/mo
- For unlimited users: $369/mo
Confluence’s developer, Atlassian, refers to the tool as a “team workspace where knowledge and collaboration meet.”
Confluence is another all-encompassing knowledge management solution, with software documentation being one of the tool’s main focuses. The focus on collaboration means all stakeholders will have a hand in creating accurate, comprehensive, and user-friendly software documentation.
Templates also ensure team “spaces” and “pages” (i.e., knowledge base sections and individual documents) stay organized and uniform. Though customizable, Confluence’s templates are designed with specific use cases in mind — once again, including software documentation.
- Real-time collaborative features and task management processes keep all team members on the same page
- Personalized feeds keep stakeholders focused on important documentation tasks and processes
- Integration with all Atlassian tools (and thousands of others) allows seamless delivery of documentation
- Free: Up to 10 users, 2GB of storage, and basic documentation features
- Standard: $5/month per user, up to 20,000 users, 250GB of storage
- Premium: $10/month per user, up to 20,000 users, unlimited storage
- Enterprise option available
Process Street is a business process management tool that allows teams to develop workflows, checklists, and other process documentation for recurring procedures within their organization.
Focusing on software documentation, Process Street serves two purposes:
For one, it allows teams to create procedural guides to help users navigate a piece of software, or a specific feature within a given tool. Secondly, dev teams can use Process Street to outline their own development processes — and to track their progress over time.
Process Street’s unique drag-and-drop interface allows teams to develop various software document templates, and to adjust them to specific use cases with ease. This versatility makes it a key choice for teams looking to streamline their software documentation processes.
Process Street Features
- Widgets make adding new content elements to documentation simple and easy
- Customizable templates provide structure to documents while allows teams to tweak them as necessary
- Process management and performance analytics allow for continuous improvement of software documentation workflows
Process Street Pricing
- Free for up to 5 full team members and 5 workflows
- Pro: $25/month per user, unlimited full users, and intensive customer support
- Enterprise option available
Bit.ai is a powerful tool for workplace and document collaboration.
In fact, its heavy focus on interactivity and real-time collaboration is what makes Bit.ai such a prime choice for software documentation purposes.
On the developer’s side, dev teams can add code blocks and other elements to documents as needed — all while working with other team members to improve the documentation in question. Less technical teams can also easily collaborate in-doc, adding multimedia and other content to software documentation as appropriate.
For end-users, the end result is an interactive document that delivers the exact information they need in the most convenient and digestible way possible.
- Minimalist, Markdown-supported interface allows teams to create and edit documentation to their liking without distraction
- Portals, rooms, and passwords can all be used to allow or disallow access to certain documents
- Integrates with over 100 other tools
- Free for up to 5 members, 50 documents, and 1GB storage
- Pro Plan: $8/month per user, unlimited users and documents, and 500GB storage
- Business Plan: $15/month per user for advanced tracking, access to customer success and support teams
- Enterprise Plan available
Tettra is an internal, corporate wiki tool that focuses on delivering need to know answers to common questions as quickly as possible.
At the most basic level, Tettra acts as a sort of Q&A forum on which team members can ask and answer technical and operational questions for all to see. Basically, you can think of it as an organization-specific Quora.
For software documentation purposes, Tettra allows teams to collect frequently asked questions regarding product specs, technical processes, and troubleshooting info all in one place. Internal users can then use the Q&A database to find the information they need without having to reach out to the dev team or other SMEs.
- Content verification ensures answers are accurate and comprehensive — and provides SMEs the opportunity to expand on documentation as needed
- Slack and MS Teams integrations allows users to find answers directly within these tools
- Usage analytics allows teams and SMEs to make improvements to documentation over time
- Free for up to 10 users, basic Q&A features
- Scaling: $8.33/month per user, up to 250 users, for all features
- Enterprise available
What Makes Online Documentation Software the Best?
The best online documentation software should come equipped with unmatched features. It integrates seamlessly with third-party tools, offers a wide array of customization, collaboration, user management options and it should be user-friendly. Regardless of your target audience – employees or customers, the best online documentation software helps you create a compelling document that is searchable and accessible anytime, anywhere. It offers reports for you to know what are people searching for that they aren’t finding answers to, popular articles, poorly rated articles, and more.
A well-written and comprehensive documentation is an important part of the project for any software application. If a developer has no clear understanding about the project, then overall development process will suffer as some changes or updates may be overlooked. That’s why every software application needs to have a proper and comprehensive documentation. However, there is no single type of documentation that can be applied to all types of projects because each software project has its own set of unique requirements. So, the best approach to find the right software development documentation tools or software development documentation methods is to analyze them with certain attributes in mind.
It’s also important to keep in mind that finding the right tool is only half the battle. The real challenge is to build a culture of documentation and develop the right habits. A user-friendly documentation tool, however, can make that task a lot easier. We hope this list helps you make the right choice for your team.