Online documentation software is software that is used by software development teams to document the robustness, design, and data flow of their applications. The source code comments act as a mechanism for carrying out this documentation activity.
One sure way to make the process of creating, publishing, and maintaining technical documentation even more tedious is to use a half-baked technical documentation software. Everyone loves documentation. Developers love writing it. Sales teams love reading it. And business owners love whizzing through it on their way to the good stuff. Documentation is a great way to help you describe your product and get it in front of your target audience quicker — which is why we know that documentation is king…when done right, that is. Writing documentation should be made easier if possible, and thankfully, there’s some tools that makes it so much simpler than you could have thought.
So many things can feel off with it. To start with, it could come with a clunky editor that doesn’t inspire your resources to do their best writing. Or, it could have restrictive pricing schemes where it just won’t be feasible to get your entire team to contribute. It could also come shipped with a poor search functionality that will fail to help you find what you need among other unrefined features!
Choosing a technical documentation software is indeed a lot of work. But we’ve done the homework for you. Before we see our picks for the best technical documentation software, though, let’s look at what technical documentation is.
So what is technical documentation?
Technical documentation can mean different things in different contexts.
In one context, technical documentation for a business might be just documenting the content that its engineers or developers or technical resources use — source code, for example.
But it goes beyond that. Here’s one great way of looking at it (via Transcom):
The term ‘technical documentation’ refers to different documents with product-related data and information that are used and stored for different purposes. “Different purposes” mean: Product definition and specification, design, manufacturing, quality assurance, product liability, product presentation; description of features, functions and interfaces; intended, safe and correct use; service and repair of a technical product as well as its safe disposal.Transcom
So you can see that the term technical documentation has evolved to include every piece of documentation a product uses across its lifecycle.
Following this definition, everything right from how-to guides, SOPs, product documents to release notes are all examples of it. That means your technical documentation software solution must support all of these.
Choosing a technical documentation software Solution
In addition to reviewing a solution for its support for the different documentation types, pay attention to these selection criteria.
- Pricing plans: Technical documentation software solutions often come with per user per month billing plans that are capped at storage limits and page views. These quickly become a problem when you have a large support team and get a high volume of hits, these can add up fast.
- Good access control: Your technical documentation is usually a mix of private and public pieces. So your technical documentation software should come with at least some level of access control.
- Comfortable writing and editing experience: Of course, you need a good writing and editing experience that your technical writers and other team members enjoy.
So with all that in mind, let’s drive straight into our list of the top technical documentation software solutions you could choose from.
KnowAll is the most popular WordPress-based knowledge base solution that’s ideal for creating technical documentation. It beats even the slickest SaaS alternatives, giving your support content the power of the world’s most robust content management system.
- Comes with the most-loved WordPress editor (so creating and maintaining even the most complex technical documentation types is as easy as creating and updating blog posts).
- Offers formatting tools like accordion elements, tabs, notices, toggles, etc. that let you create rich, refreshing technical documentation.
- Comes with Google-like search and autosuggest features (so finding what you need takes moments!).
- Is translation-ready (so it can speak your language).
- Can be easily customized (so you can make it your own).
- Supports attachments (so you can offer downloadables directly).
- Comes with widgets and shortcodes.
- Supports complex structures with multiple categories/sub-categories.
- Works very nicely with Slack, HelpScout, and Gravity Forms.
- Comes with an easy annual plan supporting unlimited users and technical documentation.
- Search analytics isn’t available in the $149 plan.
- Although it’s a very easy-to-use WordPress theme, it will take some effort to get the initial setup.
Pricing: KnowAll comes with easy annual plans starting at $149/year.
Document360 is a popular SaaS knowledge base software that can be used to create and host technical documentation. Just create a project for your technical documentation content, and you should be set.
- Comes with a nice markdown and WYSIWYG editor for easy content creation.
- Supports multiple formatting tools like code blocks, callouts, etc. to format the documentation nicely.
- Offers in-depth insights into how people are engaging with the content.
- Is multilingual.
- Offers roles to streamline the technical documentation editorial workflow.
- Support Customization in a way that aligns with brand guidelines.
- Comes with AI- powered search feature.
- Comes with a Google-like drive for attaching downloadable/files.
- Supports complex categorization structures.
- Works nicely with Zendesk, Freshdesk, Intercom and many more.
- Can be a bit pricey for small businesses.
Pricing: Document360 costs $99 per month and supports 2 accounts with a 50GB storage limit.
ClickHelp is the most comprehensive technical documentation software out there. It’s the “online help authoring tool” that’s made for creating and hosting technical documentation. Being a SaaS solution, there’s no configuration or installation to do.
- Supports a host of technical documentation content types like manuals, FAQs, Knowledge Bases, Tutorials, API docs, etc.
- Facilitates editorial workflows with support for multiple roles (authors, reviewers, etc).
- Comes with 6 UI templates for the popular documentation types.
- Sports a powerful patented search engine.
- Comes with over 20 integrations.
- Is easily customizable.
- Comes with access control including password-protected docs .
- Offers rich reporting and content analysis with over 30 metrics including ones for readability. `
- Costs can add up really fast with this as you only get 150 topics in the $55/mo plan; a document counts toward a topic.
- The basic plan doesn’t support a custom domain.
Pricing: ClickHelp’s basic plan sells for $55/month (paid monthly). It supports one author account and 150 topics.
KnowledgeOwl is a feature-packed and an easy-to -use knowledge base solution that works great at creating and maintaining technical documentation. This SaaS solution comes with a simple setup and gives you full control over how your technical content displays.
- Comes with a file library with advanced user permissions (controlling who can access, edit, or delete files).
- Supports complex structures with nested categories/subcategories for hosting even the most complex technical documentation.
- Sports an advanced search feature with autosuggest.
- Supports robust access control for restricting access to the documentation.
- Offers feedback functionality to gauge how the content is doing.
- Comes with features to display related content.
- Ships with a glossary module among others.
- Gets pricey for more users.
- Isn’t multilingual
- Customization options feel limiting.
Pricing: Knowledge Owl’s solo plan costs $79/mo and supports just one user.
If you are looking for digital document management and automated workflows, DocuWare is the right solution.
Available as both cloud and on-premise solutions, it is perfectly designed to align with your business requirements.
The software currently caters to global customers across a wide spectrum of industries right from retail and healthcare to manufacturing and government.
✓ File Import
Importing and indexing documents is a breeze with this feature. No user interaction with MS Office required. ✓ Versioning
Track edits and save changes made to your document. Get access to document histories anytime you want. ✓ Control Dashboard
Keep track of your workflows from a centralized dashboard. ✓ Workflow Automation
Automate workflows and set rules for document handling, assigning tasks, and much more. Pricing –
Available on Request
Best known for its capability in building private as well as public technical documentation, Confluence is trusted by companies globally.
This software comes packed with powerful features that deliver an unmatched document-building experience, making it a great tool for documentation.
It allows you to conveniently write, organize, and share content, making it accessible to who so ever needs it.
✓ Customizable Templates
Ready-made templates to help create documentation, the way you want. ✓ Flexible Permissions
Set granular permissions and control who can do what in the document. ✓ Page and File Versioning
Track changes and revert to previous versions when required ✓ Real-Time Editing
Allow users to add comments, mentions, likes, etc. for collaborative editing. Pricing starts at:
Designed for businesses of all sizes, Qualityze document management software helps you build documentation of various kinds, including instruction manuals, process narratives, and much more. It’s a cloud-based, configurable, and cost-effective solution that caters to a wide spectrum of industries across the globe. Whether you are a small and medium enterprise or a well-established firm, Qualityze has what it takes for effective document management.
✓ Version Control
Save previous versions and track changes made to the content. ✓ Document Archiving
Set the number of days for which a content piece should be displayed. Post that, it will be counted as obsolete and will be stored as an archive. ✓ User-Friendly Interface
Using the software and creating documentation is a cakewalk with its user-friendly interface. ✓ Workflow Management
Create workflows and track the status of content easily. Pricing –
Available on Request.
Whatfix is a Digital Adoption Platform that allows you to create step-by-step walkthroughs that act as real-time software documentation by guiding employees through your software. If you already have a knowledge base, you can display your documentation in a self-help widget.
Whatfix is redefining how software documentation is displayed and consumed, with new content embedded directly within your software applications in forms such as interactive guidance, contextual walkthroughs, self-help FAQs, popup notifications and beacons, and more. The platform also allows you to measure the usage and effectiveness of your documentation with user analytics.
Scribe is tool that automatically creates software documentation. It’s a Chrome extension and desktop application that captures a process you complete in a software tool, then turns your actions into instructions and screenshots in seconds.
Users can then modify instructions, edit screenshots, redact sensitive information, and more. Scribes can be shared to select people or teams, or be made available publicly. They can be embedded in a CMS, knowledge base, wiki, help center, or other platforms.
Ready to Adopt the Best Documentation Software?
- That was a quick list of the best documentation software out there and it for sure makes it easy for you to pick a tool that aligns well with your requirements.
- Since all these tools belong to the documentation family, they ought to have some similar features. What you need to do is – chalk out your requirements, compare the tools you like and then shortlist a few.
- You can also take trials of the software you shortlist, starting with the first one on the list, and based on your experience, take the shot.
You are working in a software company that is developing some amazing products. They are loved by many and the demand is out of the roof. However, you come across a situation that is not ideal and you can’t help but be jealous of some other company. They have awesome documentation websites. It’s neatly organized, it’s clear to see what each section is about and has immense value to your users in terms of getting them started with the product quickly.
Regardless of your field and the type of business you are dealing with, the importance of knowledge sharing cannot be ignored. Human capital is arguably the most valuable resource of any company. Hence, it will only help your enterprise if you can provide your employees with an easy way to store, organize, and share their expertise and insights to other team members, clients, and customer service personnel.