In software documentation, there are a lot of developers using different tools. There are content management systems (like WordPress), wiki, and software documentation tools to write software documentation. This article shares information on Software Documentation Tools Free and Software Documentation Tools Open Source available for all of us.
Software documentation tools free can be beneficial for small businesses, as well as a great way to get inside tips on creating effective software documentation. As a business owner, I am always looking for ways to save money, but not at the expense of quality. Software documentation tools free can help you create clear and concise documentation while saving you time and money in the long run.
There’s so much more to your software product than just the code. In order for users to get the most out of your software, you need to provide them with useful documentation – whether that’s for other developers or end users of your product.
In order to provide the best user experience for your software, you need to invest in the right documentation tools to host your documentation. It’s no good just creating a Google Drive folder and expecting that to do the job, as your software is likely to be too complex for such a solution.
What Is Software Documentation?
Remember, docs or it didn’t happen. Software documentation is any written document that explains how a piece of software works, why it was built, and how it is intended to be used. Depending on the complexity of your software, your documentation can contain information on the general use of the product and in-depth dives into functions and features.
Software documentation, according to Daniele Procida, can be divided into four categories:
- Learning-oriented tutorials
- Goal-oriented how-to guides
- Understanding-oriented discussions
- Information-oriented reference material
You need all these types of documentation to provide comprehensive instructions for your software product.
Best Software Documentation Tools
We’ve compiled a list of the best software documentation tools out there that you can take advantage of to document your software product.
We’ll start with our own Document360. Document360 is our very own knowledge base solution which is perfect for creating user manuals. It offers an advanced portal for content producers with a state-of-the-art editor, category manager, and more. You can create up to six levels of categories and subcategories for your content which can easily be rearranged using the drag-and-drop UI.
The Markdown editor lets you focus on writing text-heavy documents but there is also a WYSIWYG editor for those who prefer that functionality. Both editors allow you to add links, images, videos, callouts, code blocks, and more. Never lose your work with Document360’s version history which allows you to roll back to a previous version.
Document360 comes with advanced analytics that allows you to learn where your knowledge base traffic is coming from, what your visitors are looking for and how they’re interacting with your content. Document360 also integrates with a large number of popular apps including ticketing systems like Zendesk and Freshdesk, live chat software like Intercom and Drift, as well as analytics tools such as Google Analytics and Segment.
Document360’s startup plan costs $99 per project per month.
An intuitive knowledge base software to easily add your content and integrate it with any application. Give Document360 a try!Get Started
Nuclino is a good way to organize information within teams into workspaces. You can use Nuclino to create beautiful software documentation for your employees or your customers. Workspaces can be public or private. You can bring your content to life with text, images, videos, files, tasks, embeds, code blocks, and more. Write your content even faster with Markdown or use the WYSIWYG editor. You can collaborate in real-time so you can see the changes your team members are making as they type, which means there’s no risk of version conflicts. You can type @ inside an item to link to another page in the knowledge base and use workspaces and clusters to organize items. There’s a powerful search bar that you can type into to find relevant content. Work visually by organizing your team’s content into boards and graphs. Nuclino integrates with a large number of apps including Slack, Google Drive, Dropbox and more. Nuclino’s standard plan costs $5 per user per month.
- Straightforward organization that helps users find the content they’re looking for.
- Documents can be edited simultaneously, reducing the risk of version conflicts.
- Lack of formatting options for content.
- No ability to control access at the article level, only at the workspace level.
If you’re working in the software development world then it’s highly likely you’ll have used GitHub. It’s a popular platform with developers and a solid choice you can use for hosting your web-based documentation. You have a choice between using the main GitHub platform wiki section or you can use GitHub Pages, which allows you one free page, hosting, and a custom domain. You can combine GitHub Pages with Jekyll to create modern and appealing documentation sites. GitHub is free to use if your repositories are public.
- It can be appealing to use GitHub if you are already using the platform for software development.
- It’s a free platform for hosting your repositories if you choose the basic plan.
- Requires development skills to use and maintain. May not be accessible for all members of your team.
MarkdownPad is a well-known Markdown editor for Windows. MarkdownPad offers instant HTML previews so you can view your documentation as you write it. It’s simple and as easy to use as Microsoft Word and comes with a WYSIWYG editor so you don’t even need to know Markdown to use the software. You can take advantage of extensive customization options such as layouts, fonts and sizes. You can also include your own custom CSS style sheets. It comes with a CSS editor built into the platform so you can style your text to your heart’s content. MarkdownPad is free for the basic plan or $14.95 USD for MarkdownPad Pro.
- Free on the basic plan.
- Allows your team to write stunning documentation in Markdown.
- MarkdownPad doesn’t have cloud features so you won’t be able to share your docs.
- MarkdownPad is only available on Windows.
ProProfs knowledge base software is one of the best online documentation tools that enables you to create software documentation right out of the box. ProProfs allows you to create both public and private knowledge bases, from end user facing documentation to internal employee software docs. You can drag and drop content and categories. You can control the article status to let your team know what’s going on with your content. You can easily customize your knowledge base from within the settings, including changing the theme, adding a favicon, updating the logo, and so on. One of the big advantages of ProProfs knowledge base is you can integrate it with their live chat and help desk software for a more unified support experience.
ProProfs also integrates with Google Analytics, Zendesk, Freshdesk, and Desk so you can link your existing support software stack with your knowledge base. ProProfs’s essential plan costs $60 per month.
- Easy writing and publishing process means it’s a breeze to get started.
- Allows you to set different roles for the content publishing – writer, editor and administrator.
- Integrations could be more powerful.
- The navigation is a little confusing.
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.
ProProfs Knowledge Base is a simple and versatile tool that helps you create software documentation of top-notch quality for your end-users. Packed with bespoke features, the tool simplifies software documentation and assists you at all stages of content creation, right from authoring to publishing.
If you are worried about where to start, fret not. The tool offers ready-to-use templates that give you a good starting point to build content. You can write and style the entire software documentation just the way you want with the wide array of formatting features ProProfs Knowledge Base provides.
In addition to this, features like single sourcing, revision history, import, and export, further improve the process of creating and managing online documentation.
Pricing: Starts at $30/author/month
Process Street is another tool for software documentation that deserves your attention. It comes with a simple interface that lets you build structured software documentation for your end-users. With intuitive keyboard shortcuts and drag and drop functionality, Process Street makes document authoring easy for everyone in your development team. You can also add visual and audio elements to your document and turn it into a media-rich information resource.
In addition to this, it allows developers to work in collaboration and take full accountability for the assigned software development tasks.
Pricing: Starts at $25/user/month
Whatfix is carefully-designed to help you provide digitally-driven and contextually-relevant experiences to your end-users. With Whatfix, you can deliver in-app support to product users and take them through step-by-step instructions right inside your software product. It allows you to pack your software documentation in a small widget that points users towards relevant articles.
With such interactive guidance and contextual walkthroughs in real-time, right when users are exploring your software, Whatfix promises an exceptional experience. What’s even more interesting about this software is the automated personalization and conditional workflows that take the user experience to the next level.
Pricing: Available on Request
10. Zoho Docs
Zoho’s documentation software is fully customizable and highly secure. It supports multi-branding, domain mapping, a powerful authoring system, and forums and communities. All these features and many more are designed to help you create, manage, and maintain your software documentation with ease.
What sets Zoho’s documentation software apart from others is that it allows your software users to engage in discussions, give and get suggestions, and share ideas on built-in forums and communities. This makes the ultimate user experience much better as they get the best of both the worlds – self-service as well as direct interaction with fellow users.
Pricing: Starts at $10.75/agent/month
Bit.ai is a document creation and collaboration tool comprising features across user management, customization, content authoring, and security. While developers can use the software to create code blocks and collaborate with one another, end-users, on the other hand, get a well-structured document that delivers information instantly.
Bit.ai supports Markdown editor, keyboard shortcuts, inline comments, and many other features that are vital for 360° management of your documentation. You can also create unlimited code blocks that are helpful for building technical documents such as reference guides, manuals, software documents, etc.
Pricing: Starts at $8/member/month
If you are looking specifically for API documentation, Apiary by Oracle might be all that you need. It empowers your developers to work together to design, prototype, write and test APIs. This type of software documentation tool is ideal for building and managing your APIs under a single roof. You can write APIs in Markdown editor and share them instantly with team members.
The convenience of Markdown editor combined with the automated mock servers, validations, and code samples, make Apiary one of the best software development tools for developers.
Pricing: Not Mentioned
Although there exists plenty of software documentation tools available on the market, you should never waste your time in trying them or comparing their features. I know that you are a busy proffesional and that is why I am here to help you solving all the problems in your way towards achieving the best software documentation tools free.
If you are making a business around software development, then you need to be serious about software documentation. A great quality of product not only satisfies customers but also gives them complete understanding of the application. This is why we need the best software documentation tool from the market.