- What is technical documentation?
- Types of technical documents
- What are technical documentation tools?
- How to choose the best technical documentation software for your team
- Best technical documentation tools to boost your team’s performance
- Final thoughts: 8 technical documentation tools to streamline workflows
Technical documentation can be complex, time-consuming, and hard to get right — but that doesn’t mean tech companies can just skip past it. It’s a saving grace when tech teams hit unforeseen challenges.
That said, for technical documents to be useful, you need to write them correctly, make them accessible and organize them in a way that makes sense for readers.
Technical documentation tools can help streamline the creation and ensure everyone needing to access your technical documents can do so easily.
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What is technical documentation?
Technical documentation is the process of writing, storing, sharing and referencing information about a piece of technology to a new or non-expert user.
- These documents include:
- Knowledge base articles.
- Help desk and FAQ pages.
- Training manuals and instructions.
- Policy documents.
And more (we’ll dive into some more specific examples a little later on).
Technical documentation helps educate users on how to get the most out of their tech. It keeps them informed of updates, shows them how to use the technology in new ways or trains them to use the tools safely and appropriately.
In some cases (such as when working with machinery), solid technical documentation keeps users safe. But it’s still vital in low-stakes environments, like with software or digital platforms.
Basically, technical documentation gives employees and customers the materials and resources they need to succeed.
Types of technical documents
Technical documentation can come in several forms, but here are some of the most common types of technical content.
- User guides. User guides explain how a product works. They typically support user onboarding, help troubleshoot problems and highlight new features.
- Product manuals. Manuals are product documentation that gives a high-level product overview and explains features and uses. Product manuals are generally used for physical products but can also create them for software and digital platforms.
- Source code documentation. Source code documentation outlines and explains code structure to developers. This makes it easier for them to adjust or troubleshoot issues when necessary.
- API documentation. API documents outline what your API can accomplish to let developers know if your software is right for them. It provides API parameters and outlines how the API works.
- Knowledge base materials. A knowledge base is a library of frequently asked questions and resources that users can access for answers or additional information on a specific topic. Knowledge base content can cover everything from using a product to troubleshooting issues.
What are technical documentation tools?
A technical documentation tool makes documenting, storing and sharing technical content easier.
The right tool can:
- Make it easy to adjust, update or change content to reflect evolving software.
- Store and organize the version history of each document so you can easily refer back to past versions.
- Control sharing and accessibility so you can use one tool for all users.
- Link all related content so users can quickly move from one topic to another.
- Create content that’s easy to read and reflects the company’s brand.
- Offer different features, including video or audio, to create technical documents that are comprehensive and easy to understand.
- Provide accessibility to users on mobile devices and while offline.
How to choose the best technical documentation software for your team
On the surface, technical documentation tools all seem to do more or less the same job. They help you capture and share technical information with your team and customers. But while the goal behind each tool might be similar, understanding how they execute that promise is crucial for choosing the right tool for your team.
Remember, the software you select should make creating and sharing technical documents easier, not more complicated. So before you choose a technical documentation tool, consider the following.
- Who is your audience? Are you creating content for an internal or external audience, or both? Your selected platform should offer permissions that align with the needs of your audience.
- Who is creating the technical content? Do you have experienced technical writers on staff, or will it be a collaborative effort? If multiple team members need to contribute to your technical documentation process, you should choose a tool that makes it easy to communicate and share ideas.
- What format will your technical content take? Will your technical documents primarily live online, or will you need to create physical documents? Most of the tools on this list focus on digital copies, so if you also need physical pieces, choose a tool that makes creating and printing content easy.
The best technical documentation tools to boost your team’s performance
We selected eight of the best technical documentation tools that can help you streamline workflow and improve your company’s productivity.
- Adobe FrameMaker
Let’s dig into each tool’s capabilities and features.
Scribe shines as a technical documentation tool that makes it easy to document processes and instructions.
As user Luis G. said:
“Scribe is user-friendly and offers the ideal blend of screen recording and slide presentation features.”
Just click "Start Capture" follow through the process as you normally would and turn off the recorder when done. Scribe will then automatically generate a step-by-step guide with screenshots, instructions and click indicators.
Use the editor to customize your guide if you need to make adjustments, add something or include context. When your document is complete, share it with a URL, as a PDF or embed it into another tool.
For example, here’s a Scribe that shows you how to import data into Salesforce.
And because you can easily create tutorials and technical documents with Scribe, your team is empowered to keep content updated while ensuring everyone has access to the information and resources they need to use their tech effectively.
- Works with any web, desktop or mobile app.
- Quick customization options.
- Branded guides to boost customer onboarding and adoption.
- Shareable via link, PDF and embedding.
- Edit and redact screenshots.
- Export to Confluence, HTML and Markdown.
G2 Rating: 4.8/5 stars
Capterra Rating: 4.9/5 stars
Pricing: Free plan available. Paid plans start at $23/seat/month.
Confluence is a centralized knowledge base that provides self-service resources for organizations and teams, keeping all technical documentation in one place. Templates and built-in best practices make it easy to keep documents consistent while ensuring you check all your necessary boxes.
The software documentation tool works exceptionally well with technical documents because Atlassian, the same brand behind Jira, designed it.
Syncing your documents with your Jira support tickets can help developers quickly access the relevant technical information to solve issues faster and work more productively.
- Seamless integration with third-party apps.
- Extra functionality to add interactivity to Confluence pages.
- Nested content tree to find projects quickly.
- Up to 2GB file storage.
- Best practice templates.
G2 Rating: 4.1/5 stars
Capterra Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Pricing: Free plan available. Paid plans start at $5.75/user/month, with discounts for annual billing available.
Bit.ai makes it easy to create interactive technical documents with your team using a minimalistic smart editor that makes collaboration accessible — regardless of your team's location or experience level.
The user documentation tool helps you collect feedback or insights from the engineers, developers, administrators and other experts who know your technology best.
In addition, the software lets you add other content types to your documents, including rich media, videos, graphics and even surveys. You can also add integrations to social content, cloud files, maps, prototypes and more to make your documents as comprehensive as possible.
The platform has built-in analytics and document tracking with real-time insights so you can see key stats like what pages teammates view most often and how long viewers spend on a page.
- Customizable workflows.
- Integrates with your cloud-based platforms.
- Templates gallery and document editor.
- End-to-end document sharing.
- Custom document branding.
G2 Rating: 4/5 stars
Capterra Rating: 5/5 stars
Pricing: Free plan available. Paid plans start at $8/member/month when billed annually.
Its dual-view page builder lets you input content while automatically previewing how the published page will look, reducing the need for coders or designers to build your internal documentation pages.
You can choose which pages to share privately with your team or publicly with customers. That way, you can give everyone the information they need without worrying about your content falling into the wrong hands.
Creating internal and external technical document databases in one tool makes Document360 one of the best software tools to manage your content and ensure everything is accurate and up to date.
- Out-of-the-box document creation features to manage knowledge base articles.
- Knowledge base assistant for SaaS products and websites.
- Import Word documents and split them into single or multiple articles.
- Export knowledge base documents in PDF format.
G2 Rating: 4.7/5 stars
Capterra Rating: 4.7/5 stars
Pricing: Free plan available. Paid plans start at $199/project/month, with annual discounts available.
Whatfix is a digital adoption platform that sits on top of your software and walks users through how to use the technology. It puts the information and instructions right where users need it.
Customers learn how to use the software as they engage with it, creating a productive and efficient process in-platform.
Whatfix also eliminates the frustration of learning or adjusting to new or updated technology, reducing employee or customer onboarding costs.
- Step-by-step training for end-users.
- Software product and guidance analytics.
- Seamless content management.
- In-app messaging.
- Integrates with enterprise systems such as customer relationship management (CRM), analytics platforms and survey tools.
G2 Rating: 4.6/5 stars
Capterra Rating: 4.6/5 stars
Pricing: Free trial available. Paid plans are by custom quote.
Nuclino acts as a “collective brain” for teams to store and organize knowledge, docs, projects and ideas. It’s an internal documentation tool that makes it easy to present content in various formats like nested lists, Kanban boards and mindmap graphs. Users can collaborate on projects and documents to provide insights, ideas and extra detail within the platform.
The collaboration tool eliminates friction during the technical documentation process. For example, you can use the Markdown editor to format content faster and organize your documents with internal links and tagging so all relevant information pairs together.
- Add notes, embed files, assign tasks and more in one place.
- AI-powered assistant (Sidekick) that handles tasks in seconds.
- Integrates with your existing tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams and Airtable.
- Visual customization options.
- Single sign-on (SSO) and two-factor authentication (2FA) security layers.
G2 Rating: 4.7/5 stars
Capterra Rating: 4.8/5 stars
Pricing: Free plan available. Paid plans start at $6/user/month, with discounts for annual billing available.
GitBook is a knowledge management tool specifically designed for software teams. It links seamlessly with GitHub, allowing you to pull markdown files and add them to your documents automatically.
You can use GitBook for internal and external technical document sharing to keep all your information and files in one place.
Although GitBook doesn’t have many collaboration features that other tools on this list have, its connection with GitHub makes it an easy choice for developer-heavy teams already familiar with the platform.
- Integrates with popular platforms like Jira, Slack and Google Analytics.
- Empowers your team members to contribute constructively to your internal documents like company wikis and engineering docs.
- Easy to set up.
- Manage content access anytime.
- Bi-directional Git Sync to sync public docs with your codebase
G2 Rating: 4.7/5 stars
Capterra Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Pricing: Free plan available. Paid plans start at $8/user/month, with discounts for annual billing available.
8. Adobe FrameMaker
Adobe FrameMaker is designed to create and publish complex technical content. The platform is more robust and feature-rich than some tools on this list and allows you to create long-form, immersive content with online videos and images.
Like most Adobe products, it has a steep learning curve but is worth the extra effort for teams that need to churn out high-quality technical content constantly.
Adobe FrameMaker standardizes your documentation process while allowing you to create complex content that educates and informs your audience. It also lets you maintain popular industry standards to ensure your technical content meets audience expectations.
The software is ideal for teams creating digital and physical technical documents.
- Convert Word documents into a Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) map.
- Import and convert Markdown files to a DITA-based document.
- Insert YouTube videos into DITA and lightweight DITA (LwDITA) documents.
- Connects seamlessly with Adobe Experience Manager.
- Intuitive What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor.
G2 Rating: 4.1/5 stars
Capterra Rating: N/A
Pricing: Free plan available. Paid plans start at $39.99/month, with discounts for annual billing available.
Final thoughts: 8 technical documentation tools to streamline workflows
As we wrap up this extensive review, remember there's no one-size-fits-all solution.
Each technical documentation tool has its unique features tailored to different business needs. So try out a few of these tools and see which appeals to you and your team the most.
Create a free Scribe account today and build an intuitive step-by-step technical documentation guide in minutes.