Best Technical Documentation Tools

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.

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.
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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

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.

Pros 

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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.

2. Adobe FrameMaker

Adobe framework: Technical writing tool

If you are worried about writing content and re-using the existing content (like single-source writing) then you can consider Adobe FrameMaker as an option for your technical writing!

Adobe FrameMaker is a sophisticated document processor that suites large industrial standard documentation. It can be used to generate structured documents with an XML framework that’s 100% Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) compliant. FrameMaker is a DITA-friendly technical writing tool with the built-in ability to print a PDF and a great alternative to editors like MS Word.

Additionally, documents created with FrameMaker span over 200+ pages with pre-defined templates in several industrial standard formats – such as financial statements and legal agreements. You can also generate automatic hyperlinks, a list of figures, a table of contents, and a list of tables in just a few clicks.

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Features: 

  • One-click image resizing
  • XML file handling
  • Multidevice publishing
  • Mini table of contents

Pricing: 

  • Starts at $29.99 per month
  • Full version at $999

3. ProProfs Knowledge Base

Propofs knowledge base: Technical writing tool

ProProfs Knowledge Base is an excellent technical writing tool that provides amazing features and smart settings to help you create technical documents that reflect perfection.

This tool is beautifully engineered to meet the demands of businesses all over the globe, it helps you create a company-wide knowledge platform, more like a manual, that can be easily accessed via multiple devices, including mobile phones, tablets, and laptops.

ProProfs offer compelling features, such as MS Word-like editor, Google-like search functionality, workflows, customization options, and more, merged to provide you an ultra-modern experience. It even facilitates minute tasks like adding text to multiple pages at a go, adding your firm’s logo, creating toggle content, etc.

Features:

  • Branding features
  • Revision history
  • Compatibility with multiple devices
  • Library of themes, designs, fonts, etc.

Pricing: 

  • Offers a free plan
  • Pro starts at $40

Read more: Must-Have Note-Taking Apps for Students in 2020

4. Snagit

Snagit: Technical writing tool

Taking screenshots in technical documentation is not just a process- it’s a compulsion! Without images, it would be extremely difficult to comprehend the content.

Most technical writers enhance their screenshots with various attributes like- frames, arrows, circles, etc. These elements help readers to understand images in a simple and fast!

One such tool that offers a collection of beautiful pre-made elements along with the functionality of taking screenshots is Snagit! Snagit is a powerful screen capture tool targeted towards technical writers that make their documents look consistent and professional!

Features: 

  • Panoramic scrolling capture
  • Captures drop-down menus
  • Borders and image effects
  • Exports to cloud storage

Pricing: 

  • Offers a 15-day free trial
  • Pro plan starts at $50

5. MarkdownPad

Markdownpad: Technical writing tool

MarkdownPad is one of the most popular Markdown document editors used by technical writers. It provides a lot of customizations like fonts, color schemes, sizes, and layouts. It even has a built-in CSS editor and supports your custom CSS stylesheets.

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Users can quickly convert their written text documents into HTML or even export them as PDFs. With quick HTML previews, users can easily see what their documents look like in HTML as they create them.

They can use MarkdownPad to write articles, READMEs, and of course, technical documents. However, the lack of cloud features and the fact that it’s only equipped for Windows can be a bummer for a lot of writers out there.

Features:

  • Built-in image uploader
  • Auto-save
  • Session management
  • Configurable automatic updates

Pricing: 

  • Offers free download
  • Pro plan starts at $14.95

6. Whatfix

Whatfix: Technical writing tool

No one likes to see technical content in the form of a boring, endless document that makes it hard for your audience to resolve their problem. When you are showing technical documentation online, you have to keep away from the lengthy, robotic web pages. Whatfix helps you with that!

This technical writing tool allows you to create compelling guides and help articles, presented in the form of real-time interactive walkthrough elements.

Moreover, Whatfix automatically adapts the help guide based on the device you use. And the same help content can be accessed in other formats – as a video, slideshow, or PDF.

Features:

  • Customizable user interface
  • User tracking
  • Multi-browser compatibility
  • Multi-format support- videos, graphics, images, and text

Pricing: 

  • Get a quote

Wrapping Up!

There you have it peeps! A clear list of best technical writing in the market. The primary purpose of all these tools is to generate quality documentation and provide you with an awesome user interface to keep the process exciting and fun!

Before you start on with any of these technical writing tools, ensure that you analyze the features offered by them. This will help make a better decision when you have to make a purchase.

If you’ve used any of the tools mentioned above or have other suggestions that can make a technical writer’s job more effective, feel free to share your experience in the comments section below or tweet us @elink_io

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