Best Software for Project Documentation

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The pile of papers, emails and to-do list items is growing. You wonder whether you have time to make a list of things that need to be done — including being productive and finding time for making decisions. There are project documentation tools that support everyone in their tasks and make life easier for you. This can be accomplished by using software for project management, documentation, or some kind of notebook organizer (workflow). Let us introduce project documentation software – you will understand how it works and how to use it effectively.

Project management software is the most common type of business software in use today. Project management can be overwhelming for a lot of people who haven’t worked on a project very large or complex. It’s important that you use the right tools to manage a project, otherwise your business can lose money due to miscommunication, lack of team focus and even down right crosstalk.

Project documentation software helps to organize the whole project documentation in a single place, so that all the stakeholders can access all the information in the one place, at any time. Just like a database, project software has many benefits such as reducing repetitive tasks, creating consistent documents, and helping collaboration between team members.

When you work with a project it is always advisable to create project documentaion. Having a proper documented helps you with several reasons. Firstly it will keep track of your projects. Secondly the documents are easy to pass on to someone who will take over after you (if you decide to leave for a vacation) and helps them get going without any difficulty. Thirdly the documents act as a reference library for later use.

What is Technical Writing?

So, let me start off with the basic question — what exactly is technical writing?

Before going into knowing about the tools for technical writing, let’s get the context right. Technical writing is the art of explaining how to use a technology to a non-expert user using easy-to-understand language.

In a more generic way, technical writing means technical communication — to convey complex information in a simple format.

10 Most Popular Tools for Technical Writing

This blog will cover the 10 most popular tools for technical writing that every writer should use to make the most while curating content. Hope this blog adds value for aspiring technical writers and for those who are keen to expand their knowledge horizon.

We will split the blog post based on the phase of documentation for which you can use the tools for technical writing:

  • Publishing tools
  • Authoring tools (on-premise and cloud)
  • Screen Capture tools
  • Image Editing tools
  • Spell check tools

Publishing tools

Document360

Document360 is a technical writing tool that has some cool and advanced features that you would not find in most of the tools. It is a knowledge base platform that helps businesses like yours create self-service platform to help your customers understand the technical aspects more easily.

With Document360, you can write any form of technical writing which is not just limited to user manuals or memos. You can write content forms like product descriptions, white papers, business proposals, and so on. To deliver the exact output that your customer desires, you need to choose the right technical writing tool. Because the right technical tool is equally important like how a great technical writer is important for a business.

A lot of editorial features are packed with Document360. You can use either Markdown editor that helps you edit the way you want or the HTML editor. Category manager helps you to create categories, subcategories, group similar files together and creates a well-structured hierarchy of all your information. With version history, you can roll back to the previous version that helps you especially when you overwrite a content by mistake.

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These are some of the most common features and not just that, you will be able to view the analytics and get powerful insights to make your content looks even more engaging and converting. With great and easy to configure features, you get 100% cloud-based architecture, enterprise SSO, auditing, and much more. A great documentation tool is when it has all the simple features without making things complicated. You can set review reminders, check SEO, and collaborate with other editors, which is the most important task for a technical writer.

The best part is that you can integrate your documentation with your favorite apps like Google docs, Slack, Zendesk etc.,

Adobe FrameMaker

If you are concerned about writing content and re-using the existing content, known as single source authoring, then you can consider Adobe FrameMaker for your requirements.

FrameMaker is best suited for industrial standard documentation for documents spanning over 200+ pages.

You can generate structured documentation with an XML framework that’s 100% DITA compliant. FrameMaker is a DITA-friendly authoring tool with the built-in Print a PDF option.

Additionally, you can define templates and draft content according to the templates. You can generate the automatic hyperlinks, Table of Contents, List of Figures and List of Tables in just a few clicks.

However, some common limitations with FrameMaker is that it is expensive and requires a steep learning curve.

RoboHelp

RoboHelp is an application that technical writers can use to publish online documentation. It is one of the most popular Help Authoring Tools (HAT) developed and published by Adobe Systems to help technical writers develop help projects and render them across different formats. RoboHelp is used by businesses to deliver online help content and knowledge base articles.

You can use RoboHelp to generate output in the following formats —

  • HTML5 help format
  • XML
  • Printed documents
  • Mobile App formats
  • WebHelp formats
  • eBook

The RoboHelp interface is user friendly and helps users to publish content easily without any hassles. Being a HAT, users can take care of creating the documentation for publishing the content without any assistance.

The major downside of RoboHelp (or any HAT for that matter) is that it takes time to accustomed to the software. Also, when collaborating with multiple users (for peer reviews), it gets difficult to share the content with other users since the content resides within the tool. The cost of Adobe RoboHelp (latest version) costs $1000 which is not suitable for independent technical writers or small businesses.

Authoring tools for technical writing

Microsoft Word

When it comes to content writing, Microsoft Word is the first tool that comes to mind in a flash for any technical writer. Microsoft Word is definitely a technical writer’s best friend. What makes it so popular is its simple and elegant look combined with a rich set of features.

According to a report from Microsoft, 1 out of every 7 persons uses Microsoft Word either for his/her professional or personal work. Statistics also say that about 80 percent of students use Microsoft Word for individual work, while 13 percent use it for group work.

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Here’s a list of features that makes Microsoft Word the best tool for content writers:

  • Automatic spell checker and highlighter, inbuilt grammar check capability
  • Pre-loaded document templates such as brochures, flyers, technical whitepapers, troubleshooting guides and so on
  • Tracks changes — useful for editors and peer reviewers to review and suggest edits to the content.
  • Want to replace a word across the entire document? Find and Replace is probably, your life saver.
  • Save your document to different formats such as PDF, XPS, web page, Rich Text Format (RTF), plain text, and more

Additionally, you can define your own style for the documentation. You can define text and paragraph formats, add Table of Contents for your content, create tables and do wonders with the tool.

An intuitive knowledge base software to easily add your content and integrate it with any application. Give Document360 a try!Get Started

Notepad / Notepad++

Notepad is the default text editor that ships with Windows. You can write simple text file content such as a ReadMe file, or License Agreement file.

You can use notepad in cases where you don’t need rich formatting capabilities. Say, you are in a meeting/conference and you want to take quick notes, Notepad is the better choice of tool.

Tip: Use notepad when your focus is more towards writing than on formatting.

Notepad++ is an advanced text/source code editor that offers support for more languages. In addition to typing text, Notepad++ supports spell check, find and replace capability (very handy feature when you have a lengthy file and you want to change multiple occurrences of a word), and more.

These features make Notepad++ score more brownie points when compared to Notepad.

Google Docs

Google Docs is a free, multi-user collaboration tool that is available as a part of Google Drive. It’s best suited when multiple users want to collaborate and curate content together on a specific topic. Most businesses these days are adopting this tool to increase the efficiency of their staff and make information readily available on the cloud.

With Google Docs, you don’t have to worry about versioning problems for your documentation. Because you will see who is working on the document as users make changes to the content. Changes are automatically saved every few minutes to your Google Drive. This means the data is always available in your Google Drive account.

In Google Docs, you have three options — Editing, Suggesting and Viewing. In the editing mode, you can edit the document directly and the changes will not be tracked. Suggesting will enable tracking and the edits you suggest will become suggestions. You can read or print the final document from the Viewing mode option.

Few disadvantages with Google Docs (despite being one of the popular free online word processor) — it requires internet access to view/edit the documents. While this is an advantage on one side of the coin, on the other side, this becomes a disadvantage.

Without internet access, you cannot access Google Drive (or your Google Docs!). The documents that you are working on will not be available in the absence of an internet connection. Google Docs also lacks the wide range of formatting options available in traditional word processing systems.

Powtoon

Technical writing is increasingly becoming visual. Animated videos are an excellent way to capture user attention and pass on the message in an engaging way. Powtoon is a good web-based animation tool, sold as a SaaS product. Animated presentations and explainer videos can be created using this tool for free. However, the videos created with the free version would carry a ‘Powtoon’ watermark.

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Authors’ Tip: If the technical writing is not for official purposes, it perfectly OK to use the free version of this tool. However, for a nominal rental, you could get the premium version which allows you to create videos without the watermark and several other features.

powtoon-for-technical-curation

Prezi

An unconventional take on making demos in the form of a video presentation. Unlike Powerpoint, where content is rigidly divided into slides, Prezi gives you just one massive blank canvas. You can go about writing, drawing on it as you please. Zooming in or out of the content in focus and shifting focus from one frame to another on the same canvas – is how you make a continuous video presentation.

Authors’ Tip: Apart from the free version, there is a student trial version that is also free which has almost all the features of the paid version. Pick that one.

prezi-for-technical-writing

Conclusion: Whatfix is transforming how technical writing is created.

Whatfix is innovating the technical writing tools space by disrupting the very idea of lengthy continuous written content. Our interactive guides will help you become more productive by providing you a quick and effective way to create technical

Benefits of Documentation

We get it. You are busy running your business, and the last thing you want is to have to be constantly documenting things like status reports, guides, and so on. However, when unexpected issues arise out of nowhere (and they will), you’ll be glad that you and your users have documentation to fall back on. Here are the key advantages of prioritizing adequate documentation.  

Knowledge in One Place

An average knowledge worker is estimated to spend about 2.5 hours a day looking for information. Effective documentation saves everyone a significant amount of time by collecting all the essential information in one place. 

Boost Productivity

Documentation ensures that things get done even with unexpected events such as the absence of a team member, or a known issue creeping up again. You are able to keep the wheels moving without wasting resources in tracking down credentials, details, and more. 

Boost Satisfaction

Documentation helps keep your customers happy and satisfied. By showing them how to get the most value from your product, documentation reduces churn rate and boosts your customer lifetime value.

With the benefits out of the way, let’s jump right into the best documentation examples for each of the four types of documentation. 

Conclusion

Project documentation software is the heart of a project management software. It is not an optional software but must be there to manage your projects. Without this you cannot complete or gain your objectives for your project. So if you are trying to get best project management software for your company then make sure that you have best project documentation tools.

Everyone knows the importance of documentation for project management. While the technology and tools are important, your documentation is the shell that contains your projects. Whether you’re looking for one particular tool to help you with project documentation, or want to find out more about project documentation software , there are many articles online that can help you.

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