Documenting software is vital for the development of any application, product or service. Without proper documentation, the success of your software can be at stake, leading to irritated customers and ultimately a loss of profit. The good news is that nowadays you have access to a plethora of best open source documentation tools that you can use free of charge.
Writing docs is hard. Documentation has a way of collecting dust in gigantic piles as no one maintains it and everyone forgets that they even have it in the first place. Swipe is a documentation application that aims to fix this problem: By using swipe, you do not lose sight of your documentation and see a quick overview of all documentation projects that are hosted on your company’s infrastructure.
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.
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.
PDFelement is a perfect alternative to Adobe Acrobat which lets you do the necessary editing of PDF files. Get total control over your PDF files as the software also offers advanced edition options in which you can do cropping, mirroring, and rotating using some graphics-based tools. The software provides a superior OCR experience along with table recognition. The software supports 9 different languages and it is available for Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows. So, go ahead and revolutionize your old forms into highly interactive ones with PDFelement.
2. Microsoft Office
Whether it is power presentation, excel sheets, Outlook, OneDrive, OneNote, Access, Publisher, or word document, you can edit everything with Microsoft Office. After subscription, you will get the latest versions of the software that are updated on a regular basis. Microsoft Office is one of the most versatile software that is suitable for home, business as well as educational purposes. A user of any age finds it comfortable to use from the place of his choice.
Microsoft has hit a chord with a free online version of the paid MS Office. You do not need an MS Office desktop license to use Office Online. It is meant to be a complementary version of desktop software and comes with a range of features similar to Google Docs. Sharing Office Online documents is really simple with the Share button on the top right corner. As it works in the browser, you do not have to worry about saving the file again and again. All changes are saved automatically. It does not have the feature of editing PDF files.
Whether it is a sales contract, purchase order, NDA, or any kind of agreement, maintaining all documents is a huge task. Sending and signing any documents and receiving the same from other parties is quite a time-consuming process. Most businesses struggle to do so in an organized way. This is no anymore the case with FillHQ.
FillHQ, or simply Fill, is an easy-to-use online tool that helps you to fill, sign, send and receive documents at your convenience. Just open the Fill app and upload (or scan) your own documents to start using it. You can even create your own customized templates on their app. Fill is available for macOS, Android, and iOS. You can also use the web version of this app in any browser.
Scanning and capturing any documents, filling any forms, eSigning, and sharing them with your team is so simple with Fill. All your documents are stored and organized online in the cloud for easy accessibility. With their secured 256-bit encryption implemented on their app, your documents will remain secure.
You can start using the basic and most important features of Fill absolutely free without any hidden cost. It comes with unlimited document uploads and fillings, and unlimited signature requests. They also have two different pricing plans for small businesses and corporate users. The “PLUS” and the “PRO” plan costs you around $5/month ($50/year) and $15/month ($150/year) respectively.
Evernote is one of the most sought-after platforms for creating, managing, and editing notes. It lets you maintain your work in a more organized form. You can collect your entire data and keep it in one place using Evernote. The software lets you search even handwritten notes. You can also customize your notes with tables, checklists, links, audio recordings, and attachments. If you want to explore what Evernote has got for you, then simply sign up for a free premium trial version of this amazing tool. Another highlight of this tool is that you can collaborate and share your notes with others.
Evernote is considered to be the king of note-taking apps. No matter how many sheets and documents you make, there is always a need to write short notes. This is where Evernote comes into the picture. It can be easily integrated with other apps like Slack, Google Docs, Outlook, Salesforce, and more.
5. Acrobat DC
If you want a tool that will offer you more than just editing PDF files then check out Acrobat DC. It offers several features that let you get your work done from the web, computer, or Smartphone. Explore several premium features of this tool with some unique plans available on the website. With these plans, you can edit the text as well as images in your PDF file. You can create, sign, and fill out forms with total ease. Acrobat Pro DC also allows you to create PDF files and export them to PowerPoint, Excel, or Word documents.
6. Apache OpenOffice
Just like Microsoft Office, this software lets the user edit presentations, excel sheets, forms, and documents. Apache OpenOffice is free to download, distribute, and use. The software has a long history and on the virtue of this experience, it has got millions of satisfied users until today. You can use it for varied purposes such as educational, private, government, commercial, public administration, and much more. Once you download this software, you will get access to different tools such as Writer, Calc, Impress, Base, Draw, Math, etc.
7. Google Docs (Sheets, Slides, Forms)
In your professional or educational journey, you surely must have come across Google Docs at some point of time. The best part about Google Docs and the related tools is that it allows you to create, edit, or share documents right from your browser. There is no separate dedicated software required.
Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms lets you create useful docs, sheets, slides, and forms with total ease. You can edit and collaborate on those for free from wherever you are. A wide range of templates you can access that lets you execute your task efficiently thereby achieving high productivity. You can access your files from a computer, tablet, or smartphone even though there is no internet connection. Another important feature of this tool is that all the changes are saved automatically. The revision history is also maintained so that you can check who made the changes and what changes were made to the document.
The team at Google is constantly adding new features and tools to Google Docs to further expand its capabilities. So, if you had used Google Docs a few months or years back, do check the platform again. You will be surprised to find new valuable additions to it. It is also easy to share the documents and allows multiple users to edit, chat, and annotate the document.
8. Apple Pages, Numbers, and Keynote
Apple Pages, Numbers and Keynote lets you develop well-organized spreadsheets that cover several images and tables. You can create documents that are exemplary for the amazing creativity. A user can use an Apple pencil to produce illustrations and diagrams that will give additional grace to the slides. The keynote lets the user create presentations of his life through stunning effects and extraordinary tools. The more time you spend, the more you will explore this fabulous software.
9. WPS Office
One of the best free all-in-one office productivity suites, WPS Office has seen quite a significant success over the past years. The PC version of this software is free, while there is a paid advanced version for mobile devices. The ads in the mobile version can be removed through subscription. It is loaded with a range of powerful features for document editing and management.
WPS Office can be used to edit a wide range of file types, including programming files and you can also convert files between different formats. All files created and managed in WP Office can be saved on cloud platforms like DropBox, Google Drive, and One Drive. The main feature of this tool is the fully functional PDF editor and manager that has been included for free. This is a word processor that is feature-packed as MS Word.
PandaDoc has created a niche segment for itself, as it has marketed itself as a sales-focused document manager. This document manager comes with special features for sales and business. Its document editor comes with themed templates for content, branding, and image libraries to store assets that can be reused. It also comes with analytics tools to analyze how long are people spending on each item. This tool definitely appeals to people who want to manage their finance and sales via a document manager. You can also collaborate with the workspaces. But multiple users cannot able to access the files.
So which technical documentation software solution is the best?
In addition to the technical documentation software options listed above, you can also use Google Sites to create and publish your technical documentation.
Creating a Google website is free but having Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) access for your employees gives you easier access control (especially for your internal documentation that could use restricted access). Do keep in mind, though, that using Google Sites as a technical documentation solution needs you to invest in customization.
You have seen the world of software documentation and have realized it’s not exactly easy to master. There are several great tools out there that can help you create amazing documentation for your products. Best open source documentation tools
If you are an open-source developer, you may be familiar with software documentation. The main purpose of documentation is to explain how the software works, what it does, the procedures for installation and usage, instructions for troubleshooting and more. In short, translating the open-source code into written instructions that anyone can follow.