When you need to create a body of documentation for your software project, you can do it all manually and locally, in a notepad, writing all the tags and links where they belong. But there are better solutions. Using specialized online documentation software, you can save time and effort and automate most of the work.
Templates Save Time
One might think generic tools (like those by Microsoft, Google, or Apple) are good for creating documentation. But technical documentation is not the same as generic documents. There are some guidelines developed to make documents readable and comprehensible. Specialized services offer tons of templates for guides, user manuals, API docs, tutorials, comments, and so on.
These services also accelerate dull but necessary tasks, such as taking screenshots, recording videos, making animated illustrations, and formatting them right. Automation allows for making these easier and placing them in the right place on the right pages. Due to online collaboration, the work is easier to check. And that leads us to…
Imagine a building site where, to build a house, each worker makes their part of the job at home and then brings it to the site, trying to fit it into a wall or a roof. That’s how documentation making looks when teammates work offline, with no contact. A good teamwork environment makes it a building site where all specialists and managers can communicate and collaborate in real-time.
In addition, specialized editors have everything necessary and nothing superfluous. The developers of these know how to create online documentation and which tools to incorporate. You may need formatting texts, embedding media, applying styles, adding internal and external links, putting tags, and these tools are always available in the online editor. If they don’t satisfy you, you can configure your own editor with features that your documentation requires.
Last but not least: what about version history? It’s necessary because, after a new software version is released, you may need to preserve the manuals for the previous version. This feature is also hard to overrate if you want to roll back to the previous version because of errors and mistakes made.
The Big Migration
You may have already prepared a part of your technical documentation, no matter whether locally or online, but the environment you have been using does not satisfy you anymore, and you decide to migrate. Is it possible to take all your developments with you?
A good service says yes. Its import tools let you easily upload and convert various document types:
- documents made in MS Office, OpenOffice.org, Apple Works, or other editors;
- web pages;
- local HELP files;
- data from other online documentation services.
The process is automatic (though a manual check is always necessary). Your files may require further editing; in fact, online documentation always does. It’s no problem: when converted, they become editable online.
Teamwork needs to be properly set, so a manager requires tools to distribute tasks, check their status, provide access to certain domains, documents, folders, and so on. It’s better to have a built-in messenger to easily contact others about related documents, share propositions, edits, corrections, any new data of sorts. A good online documentation platform has it all, effectively being a specialized version of a business communication platform along with an online editor.
Having all the necessary tools in one place (and adding more if necessary) makes developing online documentation much easier and efficient. So choose your platform and keep your product well documented for both customers and your team. Good explanations save lives – or, at least, a large part of life.