The importance of documentation in the software industry cannot be overstated. Software that is not well documented has little chance of being adopted by the target audience. Many people may understand that there are benefits to having their own software documentation, but they lack the necessary information on how to go about doing it. The right information can make all the difference. This article will give you a good understanding of some excellent documentation tools so you know where to start with your documentation project, and it should serve as a great reference point for all things related to software documentation.
If you’re a developer working in IT or any other organization with software development department you know the importance of documentation. Actually, there are many useful features which come together for creating best documentation for your product. But there is no common ground for all kinds of software and so each type of product has its own needs. In our opinion WordPress is the best tool in this case.
Are you looking for the best tools for online documentation? Or maybe you are interested in best software for documentation? This article is designed to answer these questions and more. It will cover many of the existing options available to you. These are all very simple, yet powerful ways to document your software, giving them a pass to increase the online presence of your product.
All developers see the importance of documentation. With the help of a good documentation you can make your software look professional, outperform competitors and gain a greater market share. Also, software documentation can increase development process flexibility, improve code quality and reduce overall production costs. So, exactly how to make perfect software documentation?
What is Software Documentation?
Software documentation is an online document that explains everything about a software product, from what it is and how it is built to how it can be put to maximum use. It uses written text along with images and how-to videos to demonstrate how to execute steps and perform tasks. With all software information meticulously arranged in categories and subcategories, the document makes it easy for users to navigate through articles and get what they need instantly.
A software document serves both end-users and developers. While it walks end-users through the basics of the software, it helps developers update their software programs regularly.
Types of Software Documentation
You can build software documentation in different ways depending on your specific requirements. Keep it internal for your developers or make it public for your end-users – it’s all up to you.
Here are the different types of software documentation you can create for your software product:
1. End-User Documentation
This type of documentation is created for end-users. It has step-by-step instructions on how to install, configure, and use your software. Such documents have how-to tutorials, videos, troubleshooting guides, and other resources that end-users need, to use your software.
Let’s now look at the top software documentation tools for both developers and end-users.
2. Software Documentation for Developers
This documentation is for internal use only. Built for software developers, it documents the software’s code, API, algorithms, and other technical details. It also includes release notes for feature or software updates, installation process, architecture description, and much more.
Best Software Documentation Tools for End-Users
Well, that was all about the online documentation tools for developers. Let’s now look at the other side of the spectrum and explore tools for end-users.
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
4. 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
Best Software Documentation Tools for Developers
Based on our research, we found out 5 software documentation tools that fit the bill perfectly if developers your target audience.
Read the Docs automates the entire process of building, versioning, and publishing your software documentation. If you are looking for an open-source software documentation tool, Read the Docs is the ideal choice. It provides free docs hosting, supports downloadable formats, and helps you maintain multiple versions of your document. You can become a Gold member and avail yourself of all services of this software ad-free. It is a free software documentation tool, but you will have to pay if you want to keep your docs private.
Pricing: Not available
Another software documentation tool built for developers is Github. With features like collaborative coding, high-end security, and automation, GitHub gives your community of developers a smooth time creating and managing documentation. Developers can keep track of any changes made to the software’s code through its version control system.
With GitHub Pages, developers can convert the files in the repository into full-fledged websites in no time. The tool also offers team discussions and multi-line comments to help developers work in collaboration while writing and managing the software’s code.
Pricing: Starts at $4/user/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
Tettra is another useful software documentation tool for developers. It allows developers to work together to create content for your software product and make it available for everyone in the team. Tettra’s integration with Slack, GitHub, and other such tools help developers access software-related content effortlessly right from where they are.
What more? Subject matter experts can keep a constant check on the document’s accuracy and expand the document as and when needed. This content verification system ensures that every person in the development team has access to the most updated and relevant information.
Pricing: Starts at $8.33/user/month
If you have a remote setup with developers working from different locations, Confluence can be the perfect fit for your business. This remote-friendly tool enables all developers to bring their product and coding knowledge to the table and work with combined synergy to create a compelling software document.
Besides document management, Confluence also supports software project collaboration and social intranet, allowing developers to communicate and work easily. It also offers beautiful templates for different use cases, an important one being software documentation. Developers can use a suitable template and kickstart the process of creating content almost instantly.
Starts at: $5.50/user/month
Docusaurus is counted among the most popular open-source documentation software. It’s crafted to provide you with the best-in-class experience. With global clients from various industries in its kitty, Docusaurus is slowly positioning itself as the best project documentation software.
Translate your documentation in over 70 languages and cater to a wider audience. ✓ Powered by Markdown
Write and edit content easily with Markdown. ✓ Document Search
Make search effortless for your audience. ✓ Document Versioning
Create new versions, rename existing document versions, and much more with this feature. Pricing –
Available on Request.
Heflo is intuitive, cloud-based, simple to use, and is a good choice for your business process documentation requirements. The software provides a complete documentation solution allowing you to build professional, comprehensive, and beautiful online documents.
✓ Version Control
Store previous versions of your document to track changes ✓ Exportation and Importation
Export or import files easily to your document ✓ Diagram Library
Ready-to-use collection of diagrams that you can refer to create your own. ✓ Superior Design and Usability
The WYSIWYG editor allows you to write and customize content the way you want. Pricing –
Available on Request.
DocuShare by Xerox is a cloud-based solution for all your documentation needs. It is simple, intuitive, and powerful, all at the same time. Packed with powerful features, this software helps you with the digitization and sharing of documents, capturing and managing knowledge, and much more.
✓ Customizable templates
Choose from a wide range of beautiful templates to build your documentation. ✓ Text Editor
Write and edit content easily with its simple text editor. ✓ Version Control
Save different versions of your document and keep track of the changes made. Pricing –
Available on Request.
A cutting-edge documentation software solution, Documize is perfect for both technical as well as non-technical people. The software is rich in features and helps you create an online central knowledge repository with ease. Well-suited for both internal and external documentation, Documize can be deployed both in the cloud or on-premise.
✓ Easy Import
Import word docs right into your document. ✓ Table of Contents
Create a natural flow of your content for better readability. ✓ Templates
Reusable templates to help you get started. Pricing starts at:
$75/per 25 users/month.
Nuclino is a robust project documentation software that is of significant help in onboarding new employees, decreasing duplication of work, and enhancing productivity. Although Nuclino’s key focus is on internal documentation, yet, it still has capabilities that allow sharing documentation with stakeholders existing outside your organization.
✓ Instant Search
Nuclino’s search mechanism is fast and accurate. Give a seamless search experience to readers, wherein they can find relevant information quickly. ✓ Version History
Store previous versions of your document to track changes. ✓ Access Rights
Assign roles and give rights to gain full control over what users can and cannot do in your documentation. Pricing –
Available on request
15. Zoho Workdrive
If team collaboration is what you aim for, your search ends here. Zoho Workdrive is regarded as one of the best as far as managing files for teams is concerned. It helps you create a centralized and secure platform where teams can work together in collaboration. Zoho Workdrive is the right choice for bringing teams and fostering collaboration in the workplace.
✓ Team Folder Access
Assign different roles to team members and control access. ✓ Private and Public Space
Keep your folders private or public, depending on your requirements. ✓ Draft Before Publishing
Save drafts and do a quality check before publishing content. ✓ Instant Uploads
Upload bulk files instantly to your documentation. Pricing starts at:
Rs120/per 3 users/month.
Dokit offers a holistic solution to all your documentation requirements. It covers everything right from creating and organizing to sharing and collaborating. Its suitable both from employees as well as customers’ standpoint. The undisputed performance it delivers makes Dokit one of the best documentation software. It’s available both as SaaS and on-server.
✓ Easy Authoring
Its user-friendly interface is designed to help you create content, import docs, and do much more. ✓ Organization
Dokit enables you to keep full control over your documentation. Track revisions, check updates, manage versions, and more. ✓ Collaboration
Infuse collaboration in teams. Allow team members to ask questions, get feedback, and work collaboratively. Get notifications whenever there is a change. Pricing starts at:
Doccept is a versatile documentation software offered by Kensium. The software was created after doing thorough research on the significant challenges organizations face and how documentation can conquer them. Doccept is a one-of-its-kind software that focuses on the entire document lifecycle management. Catering to a wide spectrum of industries, Doccept has brought a remarkable difference in the way its clients function.
✓ Workflow Management
Keep track of your documentation, set rules, and monitor the progress of articles until they are approved for publishing. ✓ Templates
Use preformatted documents to build online documentation. Avoid mistakes and save time that would have been lost if you create documents from scratch. ✓ Dashboard
Keep a tab on what’s going on with your documentation. Check the latest updates, changes, or any other activity made on a single, centralized dashboard. ✓ Full-Text Search
Search by keyword, folder, date range, and more. Get information instantly at your fingertips. Pricing –
Available on Request.
Intellect Document Control is best suited for organizing, customizing, and managing documentation effectively. It’s feature-rich, easy to use, and helps you customize your documentation to meet your requirements. Flexible and configurable, Intellect Document Control software is the go-to option to streamline your documentation.
Customize workflows and document controls to match your requirements. ✓ Permissions
Set user permissions on the basis of documents, tasks, fields, and more. Keep track of who can access your documentation. ✓ Workflows
Set workflows to ensure quality checks before articles get approved. Pricing –
Available on Request.
Adoddle by Asite is all about cloud-based collaboration. This cutting-edge tool helps in document management and control by enabling you to store data at a centralized platform securely. Everyone involved in projects can easily collaborate and get work done, which results in a sharp decrease in errors. It also saves a significant amount of time and cost. The vast capabilities of this software make it the right choice for document creation and management.
✓ Version Control
Save previous versions of your document, compare versions, and make sure that error-free documents are in use. ✓ Scanning and Indexing
Streamline and manage documents effectively. ✓ Workflows
Create customized workflows and track progress. ✓ Document Archiving
Maintain document archives and keep track of the audit trail. Pricing –
Available on Request.
FormStack is a smart documentation tool that comprises ground-breaking features for document generation and management. It provides you a holistic solution, taking care of all your documentation requirements right from the point of creation and storing to management and publishing. Whichever industry you operate in, FormStack helps you generate impressive documents with ease.
✓ Customizable Templates
Use pre-built templates to get started with your documentation. ✓ Themes & CSS
Choose from a variety of themes, add your logo and customize content to match your brand. ✓ Multiple Users
Add multiple users and help them manage your content ✓ User Permissions
Set permissions for users and define their rights. Pricing starts at:
Designed for businesses of all sizes, Qualityze document management software helps you build documentation of various kinds, including instruction manuals, process narratives, and much more. It’s a cloud-based, configurable, and cost-effective solution that caters to a wide spectrum of industries across the globe. Whether you are a small and medium enterprise or a well-established firm, Qualityze has what it takes for effective document management.
✓ Version Control
Save previous versions and track changes made to the content. ✓ Document Archiving
Set the number of days for which a content piece should be displayed. Post that, it will be counted as obsolete and will be stored as an archive. ✓ User-Friendly Interface
Using the software and creating documentation is a cakewalk with its user-friendly interface. ✓ Workflow Management
Create workflows and track the status of content easily. Pricing –
Available on Request.
Which Software Documentation Tool is Right for You?
Now comes the time to decide which software documentation tool you should invest in.
Let’s start on a blank slate and first figure out who your target audience is – developers or end-users. As you can see above, there are two types of software documentation tools. One is designed for end-users, and the second type is specifically meant for creating internal documents for developers.
Each tool mentioned above is unique yet similar in various ways. For example, all of them offer a good authoring system, but if you ask about security and granular permissions, not every tool has a feature for that.
If you need an all-inclusive tool that can be used for both developers and end-users, ProProfs Knowledge Base can work well for you. Its out-of-the-box features let you build both public and private software documentation with equal ease.
That was a quick list of the best documentation software out there and it for sure makes it easy for you to pick a tool that aligns well with your requirements. Since all these tools belong to the documentation family, they ought to have some similar features. What you need to do is – chalk out your requirements, compare the tools you like and then shortlist a few.
If you’ve ever described yourself as a software developer, you know how important documentation can be. It’s the reference point of all your hard work. Great software is built on top of great documentation and no matter what happened behind the scenes (since it hasn’t been documented), it’s the public description of your project that shows withstanding the test of time.