Using a software tool can sometimes feel like finding your way in a foreign country.
Guesswork in such situations might end up creating more problems than solving, which can be a big turn-off for software users.
If you are worried about your software being abandoned by users and a subsequent fall in subscriptions, here is a solution for you. A software documentation tool helps you provide straightforward, step-by-step instructions to users on how to use your software the right way.
While the market has a plethora of software documentation tools, how do you find your way out and get home the one tool that you really need?
We know how. After rigorous research, we have compiled this list of the 10 best software documentation tools. We’ve done all the hard work of scrolling through dozens of websites to get you the top tools, so you can make an informed decision.
But before we discuss and compare these tools, let’s learn a few basics first.
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
Scribe is a step-by-step guide generator that captures your screen to document internal and external processes. Have you ever had to manually draft instructions or record a workflow on your screen? We’ve all been there: dealing with a desktop cluttered with screenshots while you copy and paste step after step.
It’s time to save time; share a Scribe instead. Just turn on the extension or desktop app and run through your process. Scribe follows along as you work to create a visual guide, complete with text and screenshots. Scribes are easy to create, edit, share or embed. Add to your knowledge base or CMS, or simply sort through your user-friendly dashboard. And with Scribe’s newest feature, Pages, you can combine Scribes with videos, images and more. The universal updates feature means that no matter where you store a Scribe, you’ll always have up-to-date information.
Whether you’re onboarding new hires, creating training materials or simply answering quick questions, Scribe gets your time back and gets things done.
Pricing: Free Basic Plan. Pro Plan starts at $29/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
Read More: Best Technical writing Tools for 2022
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: Connect with company
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
Read More: Best Tools for Online Documentation in 2022
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.
If you want software documentation in the form of in-app help, Whatfix is a wonderful option. And if you are looking for open-source software documentation tools for your developers, you can give Read the Docs a shot.
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