Best Open Source Documentation

Writing software documentation is essential, as it showcases the product you have built to the world. When a user downloads your app for the first time, they’re left scratching their heads with no explanation of what this product does and how it should be used. With proper software documentation up-front, you show that interest in your work that would otherwise have been unseen.

Therefore, software documentation tools are a crucial part of the software development process. They help software developers to create, maintain and update the technical documentation for the software products. 

Nowadays, the IT industry spends a major part of its efforts on building amazing new technological solutions. From time to time, however, it is worth stepping back and taking a more in-depth look at existing technologies. In this article we will discuss open source documentation tools.

A very powerful and useful tool in any design project, documentation can be defined as a way to pass on knowledge about the project from person to person, team member to team member. We will be discussing various types of Software Documentation Tools that help a developer create technical documentation for a product. 

What is Software Documentation?

what is software documentation

Software Documentation is the process of creating documentation for software in order to make it more intuitive and easy to use.It is a document that has general information about how the software was built, how it operates, and other details. Software documentation is an important aspect of software development. As a part of the software life cycle, it makes up a significant portion of the effort when building software applications. The goal of documentation is to provide technical and functional information that will help people use your product.

What are the types of software documentation?

types of software documentation

Documentation is a crucial part of the software. There are mainly five types of software documentation. 

  • Requirements – Identifies attributes, capabilities, characteristics, or qualities of a system. 
  • Architecture/Design – Overview of software. Includes relations to an environment and construction principles to be used in design of software components.
  • Technical – Documentation of code, algorithms, interfaces, and APIs.
  • End user – Manuals for the end-user, system administrators and support staff.
  • Marketing – How to market the product and analysis of the market demand.

Importance of Software Documentation

Software documentation is an essential element of any software development project. Although the importance of documentation may not be immediately apparent to some, the benefits of creating a comprehensive and detailed set of instructions for developers and end-users alike are significant. When properly executed, software documentation can help to expedite the process from idea to implementation, reduce time-to-market and increase customer satisfaction.

While writing documentation for software products is not a new phenomenon, it has become more important than ever as technology continues to advance and software becomes increasingly complex. Simply put, the demand for documentation has grown exponentially over time. It can be a daunting task to write good documentation, but with the right tools and techniques in place, anyone can produce clear and concise documentation that will benefit both your users and colleagues alike.

What are the tools used for software documentation?

Software documentation is the process of creating and maintaining any form of informational support for a software application. It may be in the form of text documents, images, video, or audio recordings. The purpose of documentation varies; it may be intended for designers, developers, clients, or end-users of the software application.

ALSO READ:   Best Documentation Platform

 Let’s see the top software documentation tools together;

1- Document360

Document360 software documentation tool

Document360 is a documentation tool that helps companies in the process of software development by providing support with their processes and workflows.

Document360 provides support in the process of software development by helping companies with their processes and workflows. This documentation tool supports projects from conception to deployment, showing everyone on the team what’s coming next, who’s working with what, and when it’s due. Document360 is an innovative product designed to manage your documents.

2- UserGuiding

UserGuiding software documentation tool

UserGuiding is a site that allows users to create and share guides on any topic imaginable. The high demand for guides inspired the idea with deep insight into specific topics. Guides of this nature are often hard to find or expensive due to the immense time and effort it takes to compile such rich information. 

UserGuiding can be used to turn software manuals into interactive guides, and the resource centers widget can be integrated with knowledge bases to offer in-app browsing of the knowledge base. With UserGuiding, you can create interactive guides for your software. Guides are an easier way to learn software than reading long manuals and help make the process of learning new software less painful.

With UserGuiding, you can create:

  • Interactive Product Tours,
  • Tooltips and Hotspots,
  • User Onboarding Checklists,
  • Resource Centers,
  • NPS Surveys,
  • And custom user segments.

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3- BitAI

BitAi software documentation tool

Bit.ai is a workspace and document collaboration platform. It allows you to create, organize and share files with your team or colleagues in real-time online. It provides the ability to access information from any device at any time, anywhere. For example, you can view a file while on the go via mobile device while working on something else back at the office on your desktop computer. Bit.ai has Github integration, Cloud File Integrations, and many more. Documents have been created for an enhanced user experience both for the creator and the receiver. They are easy to share, searchable, interactive, and dynamic documents that can be made available on a website or mobile device. 

4- ClickHelp

ClickHelp software documentation tool

ClickHelp is a cloud-based documentation tool that helps your business create, manage and publish online help desk content. With ClickHelp, you can customize the reader experience with UI templates, visual settings, and CSS. ClickHelp is an online documentation tool that enables businesses and individuals to create, edit and share step-by-step guides. Now you can create helpful ‘how to’ guides for customers in a snap. 

What You Get:

# Marketing-friendly Features

# No Installation or Server Setup Required

# Completely Cloud-Based Solution

Tettra

5. Tettra

Tettra is a tool for internal company use. It’s a wiki and knowledge management system that lets teams create content other employees can read and comment on. This tool is specifically built to work with Slack and features integrations with several other tools, including GSuite, Microsoft Teams, GitHub, and Zapier.

ALSO READ:   Best It Documentation Software
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6. Tallyfy

Tallyfy is workflow and process management software that lets you capture and automate your company’s knowledge. This software offers the ability to see the status of your tasks, and it is built to integrate into many other systems like Slack or Gmail. It also automates the process of tracking document changes.

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7. Scribe

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.

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BEST DEVELOPER DOCUMENTATION TOOLS

8. GitHub

GitHub is a cloud-based website and service that stores code and helps developers control and track changes through a version control system called GIT to host and review code. In addition to their repository, they offer GitHub Pages, a website hosting service that takes files directly from a GitHub repository and runs the files through a process that creates a website. This feature gives developers an easy way to create software documentation in plain text or Markdown.

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9. Apiary

Apiary by Oracle is a dedicated host for Application Programming Interface (API) documentation that lets you design, prototype, document, and test APIs. One helpful feature is the ability to prototype an API without written code.

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10. Read the Docs

Read the Docs is open-source documentation software that helps developers build and host documents. It can also build multiple versions of your documents by creating a separate branch or tag in your version control system, which is helpful for making sure your documents stay up to date.

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11. MarkdownPad

MarkdownPad is a full-featured Markdown editor for Windows. This tool allows you to create text-based web content, blog posts, websites, articles, READMEs, and software documentation.

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12. Typora

Typora is a simple document reader and writer that provides support for Markdown — a plain text format that’s easy to read and write. This software appeals to developers who want to remove distractions by hiding unwanted elements, like preview windows. It also has a live preview feature to allow you to focus on your content.

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13. Doxygen

Doxygen is a top-rated tool for generating documentation from annotated C++ sources, and it supports other programming languages. It can generate online documentation and offline reference manuals from specific source files by extracting information directly from the source, creating continuity between your documentation and source code.

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Whether you’re new to the process or a seasoned professional, these tools can help you create great documentation that will be used by your clients and customers alike. Hope you find this post helpful. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns

Why API Documentation Matters

API documentation is human and machine-readable technical content that explains how a specific API works and what it is able to do. Its purpose is twofold. Firstly, it is an accurate reference source that describes the API in detail. Secondly, it can act as a guide and teaching tool that helps users get started and use it. 

ALSO READ:   Tools for Software Design Documentation

Done correctly, API documentation acts as the one true source of information for how an API works. It should contain details on functions, arguments, classes, and more in a structured format that is easy for both developers and non-technical users to understand. Often, it will include tutorials and examples, which will help the user better understand how the different parts work together.

Investing time and resources into creating high quality API documentation leads to many benefits:

  • Reduced Onboarding Time – Customers and internal users can access the information they need to start using and benefiting from your API immediately. 
  • Reduced Reliance on Support – Good documentation reduces the strain on your API experts and helps other users find their own answers. This applies regardless of whether your API is internal-only or used by thousands of customers,
  • Encourage Non-Engineering Users – By increasing the understanding of non-coding colleagues, your API documentation enables better discussions around how your APIs and data can be used to achieve your business goals.
  • Increased Adoption Rate – Easy-to-use API documentation will increase the rate with which new users can start using your API. By providing a better user experience, businesses will benefit from increased word-of-mouth marketing, which leads to faster adoption.
  • Improved User Satisfaction – Happy customers and colleagues improve your business’s reputation.

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Conclusion

Documentation is one of the few things that are both easy to produce and very valuable. Anyone who has used a free or open source project knows the importance of good documentation. When there is no documentation, it’s almost impossible to get started with any project, let alone contribute to it in any meaningful way. So why do some projects have good documentation while others don’t? An open source documentation project is a common reference model that is structured using very well-known tools, in particular the Github platform. It will be used to manage information on a wiki, forum, blog or other collaborative tool. Also called open source documentation, it is one of the most used tools for developing documentation tools. You can find various open source documentation projects on the internet: public documentation project, private documentation for organizations, development of documentation for educational purposes.

All of these projects use the same template and work in the same manner: the project manager (PM) prepares the existing pages based on agreements with the authors who publish content. Also available to developers, this software provides several features to allow them to collaborate within large open source communities.

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