Best Way of Software Documentation

Software is one of the most complicated works. There are a lot of details and nuances in it. But very often developers do not show any interest to this work. The most important part of software creation is documentation because it will help in future development and maintenance of software. But there is no universal guideline for writing software documentation.

If you are a software developer or working in a software development company and if you have worked with 2 or more platforms for creating your application, then it would be clear that we need best software for documentation. We need to manage the drawing, designing, and coding process in a better way. For this we should use proper documentation tools which can help us in developing the application. But finding the right tools is pretty painful job and therefore we are here to solve your problem by comparing some of the best tools available.

Writing software documentation is essential, as it showcases the product you have built to the world. When a user downloads your app for the first time, they’re left scratching their heads with no explanation of what this product does and how it should be used. With proper software documentation up-front, you show that interest in your work that would otherwise have been unseen.

A very powerful and useful tool in any design project, documentation can be defined as a way to pass on knowledge about the project from person to person, team member to team member. We will be discussing various types of Software Documentation Tools that help a developer create technical documentation for a product.

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.

ALSO READ:   Best Software Documentation Practices

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.

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13 Best Software Documentation Tools in 2022

The software documentation tool you choose will depend on the type of documents you need to create. Here’s a list of twelve of the best software documentation tools for end-users and developers to help you make your choice:

BEST END-USER SOFTWARE DOCUMENTATION TOOLS

1. Whatfix

Whatfix is a Digital Adoption Platform that allows you to create step-by-step walkthroughs that act as real-time software documentation by guiding employees through your software. If you already have a knowledge base, you can display your documentation in a self-help widget.

Whatfix is redefining how software documentation is displayed and consumed, with new content embedded directly within your software applications in forms such as interactive guidance, contextual walkthroughs, self-help FAQs, popup notifications and beacons, and more. The platform also allows you to measure the usage and effectiveness of your documentation with user analytics.

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2. Bit.ai

Bit.ai is a documentation collaboration platform that allows you to manage all of your documents in one place. It allows you to create notes, documents, and wikis, and you can manage your company’s documentation across teams or departments.

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3. ProProfs

ProProfs knowledge base software is a knowledge management tool that lets you create searchable online FAQs and help docs. In addition, you can add videos, audio, images, and infographics to your documentation to make your software documentation more interactive and compelling.

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4. Dropbox Paper

Dropbox Paper is an online document workspace that lets you organize and display text, media, and files all in one place. It’s a web-based tool, so it’s accessible as long as you have an internet connection. If you’re already a Dropbox user, you can create and edit documents without leaving Dropbox.

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5. Tettra

Tettra is a tool for internal company use. It’s a wiki and knowledge management system that lets teams create content other employees can read and comment on. This tool is specifically built to work with Slack and features integrations with several other tools, including GSuite, Microsoft Teams, GitHub, and Zapier.

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6. Tallyfy

Tallyfy is workflow and process management software that lets you capture and automate your company’s knowledge. This software offers the ability to see the status of your tasks, and it is built to integrate into many other systems like Slack or Gmail. It also automates the process of tracking document changes.

ALSO READ:   Best Format Software Documentation
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7. Scribe

Scribe is tool that automatically creates software documentation. It’s a Chrome extension and desktop application that captures a process you complete in a software tool, then turns your actions into instructions and screenshots in seconds.

Users can then modify instructions, edit screenshots, redact sensitive information, and more. Scribes can be shared to select people or teams, or be made available publicly. They can be embedded in a CMS, knowledge base, wiki, help center, or other platforms.

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BEST DEVELOPER DOCUMENTATION TOOLS

8. GitHub

GitHub is a cloud-based website and service that stores code and helps developers control and track changes through a version control system called GIT to host and review code. In addition to their repository, they offer GitHub Pages, a website hosting service that takes files directly from a GitHub repository and runs the files through a process that creates a website. This feature gives developers an easy way to create software documentation in plain text or Markdown.

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9. Apiary

Apiary by Oracle is a dedicated host for Application Programming Interface (API) documentation that lets you design, prototype, document, and test APIs. One helpful feature is the ability to prototype an API without written code.

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10. Read the Docs

Read the Docs is open-source documentation software that helps developers build and host documents. It can also build multiple versions of your documents by creating a separate branch or tag in your version control system, which is helpful for making sure your documents stay up to date.

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11. MarkdownPad

MarkdownPad is a full-featured Markdown editor for Windows. This tool allows you to create text-based web content, blog posts, websites, articles, READMEs, and software documentation.

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12. Typora

Typora is a simple document reader and writer that provides support for Markdown — a plain text format that’s easy to read and write. This software appeals to developers who want to remove distractions by hiding unwanted elements, like preview windows. It also has a live preview feature to allow you to focus on your content.

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13. Doxygen

Doxygen is a top-rated tool for generating documentation from annotated C++ sources, and it supports other programming languages. It can generate online documentation and offline reference manuals from specific source files by extracting information directly from the source, creating continuity between your documentation and source code.

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14- SimpleMDE

SimpleMDE software documentation tool

SimpleMDE (or Simple Mind Document Editor) is an open-source web application for creating rich text documents. It was written in JavaScript using the jQuery library, and it runs on Node.js. This software documentation tool is open source & its repository can be forked from GitHub. 

15- Sublime Text

sublimetext software documentation tool

Sublime Text is a sophisticated text editor for code, markup, and prose. You’ll love the slick user interface, extraordinary features, and amazing performance. The tool is available for OS X, Windows, and Linux. It uses a custom UI toolkit optimized for speed and beauty while taking advantage of native functionality on each platform to provide a stable experience and be lightweight and fast. 

Sublime Text focuses on efficiency and minimalism without compromising functionality or usability.

16- Apiary

Apiary software documentation tool

Apiary  Is a web-based API documentation tool. Apiary lets you create, organize, and easily share your APIs. An open standard that makes it easy to describe an API’s capabilities and get immediate access to code samples in dozens of different programming languages. The most crucial feature is the ability to prototype an API without written code. There are three plans; free, standard, and pro. Whether you have 5 or 50 contributors, inside or outside your organization, Apiary gives you the necessary tools to manage complexity. Apiary is a software development tool that helps you plan, build and manage your APIs. It allows you to design your API visually, adding documentation and testing features. 

ALSO READ:   Best API Documentation Tools

Create Software Documentation with These Best Practices

1. Make documentation a priority

It’s easy to disregard software documentation and place it in the backseat. But, this can backfire in the long run. 

Creating the documentation along with the development lifecycle saves you time and effort. It keeps track of tools and processes in real-time. And you can also document any changes along the way. Instead of trying to remember every detail at the end of the project, doing it simultaneously makes the documentation less prone to errors. 

2. Know your target audience

There is no one-size-fits-all style in creating the documentation. That is why it is important that you determine your target audience accordingly.

Try to establish various audience personas from available user information. Identify each of their goals, level of information access, and preferences. This way, you can determine the right delivery format and style.

3. Think of a content strategy ahead

Before creating your documentation, look at the bigger picture. See how each piece of information fits in with the whole puzzle. And think of a content strategy to deliver them in a way that’s easy for the readers to understand. 

Hence, what should you do? It’s time to create a style guide that you can follow. It will help you standardize your voice, formatting, terminologies and word usage, and visuals. 

For instance, you can use popular software style guides, such as the Microsoft Manual of Style or Rackspace Style Guide. If you’re looking for a grammatical and syntax guide, you can choose between the Chicago Manual of Style or the Associated Press Stylebook. More importantly, if you want something readily available, there are also templates available online.

Conclusion

Software is the most popular and in-demand nowadays. The importance of software documentation has always been high. Mostly for some common issues and errors, the users get confused or get no help from the documentation. The user may face a lot of difficulties when installing the software or performing any routine task. This can cause them to leave it, thinking it is time-consuming or difficult. So if your software is not documented in a correct way, then it will cause a negative impact on your business.

Whether you’re new to the process or a seasoned professional, these tools can help you create great documentation that will be used by your clients and customers alike. Hope you find this post helpful. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns 🙂

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