Best Software Documentation

Software has become the integral part of our life. It rules everything from communication to structure of human daily business. Best software documentation is that part of any software which conveys an idea about functioning and processes easily to a person who uses it. That’s why best software documentation is commonly known as user’s manual which contains software information useful for a user and makes their work easier.

Software documentation is a very important phase of designing and development process that is required to be done early on during the software development lifecycle. This phase will help you to avoid any late costs as delays in this development process can cost some serious amount of money. If you are doing it for the first time, then there is every chance that you might not know much about the best tool for software documentation that has to be used for writing better documentations.

If you’ve ever had to use a piece of software you’re not familiar with, you understand the importance of helpful technical documentation. You don’t have time to guess how to use a piece of software when you have work to get done. You need straightforward instructions to help you complete your tasks.

Documentation is an integral part of any software product. It explains what the software does, how it works, how to integrate it into other tools, and provides a peek under the hood. There are several different types of software documentation, and they can all benefit from specialized tools that make creating them more manageable.

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.

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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 written for software users.

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: Software documentation tool

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.

Bit documents, unlike your standard Word Docs, are interactive. This means developers can easily add code blocks to a document with a single click!

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.

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2. Software Documentation Tool: ProProfs Knowledge Base

Proprofs: Software documentation tool

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

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Github: Software documentation tool

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: Software documentation tool

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.

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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

ReadtheDocs: Software documentation tool

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

Doxygen: Software documentation tool

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.

Create good software documentation using these best practices

Good documentation is just as important as creating flawless code. Therefore, take note of all the best practices mentioned above. This way, your team won’t have to deal with uncoordinated formatting or errors on the end user manual. Now that you have learned about these tips, it’s time to create your software documentation.

If you need help with your software production, Full Scale offers professional services to suit your requirements. Our team of highly skilled developers and marketing specialists are more than ready to help you scale your business.

Conclusion

Software documentation tools are important for every company. They are primarily used by technical writers who will help in creating non-technical software content. However, there is a misconception that writing clear instructions and guides are the tasks of programmers only. A good documentation tool will help any type of individual contribute towards the constant improvement of communication.

The software is developed, project is finished and everyone involved with the project has moved on to the next job. It’s time to celebrate the work that was done during the past year. Of course, during the time of development, there have been a number of efforts put into getting things right, including the documentation of what was built.

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