Technical documentation is an integral part of software development. It is a helpful and important means of giving developers, software engineers, and DevOps/DevSecOps professionals a comprehensive understanding of the system they are working on.
As the rate of technology’s advancement speeds up, the dire need for technical documentation that keeps up increases. It is clear to see why. Comprehensive documentation helps to improve the quality of work done, facilitates effective communication between team members, and aids in the maintenance and future development of the system.
In this blog, we will explore the benefits of technical documentation, and its history, from its inception to its current state where automation is shaping documentation as we know it. We’ll also provide a brief comparison of documentation platforms available to you today.
Why We Need Technical Documentation
Documentation has been around for centuries, with the earliest known example being the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. However, the need for technical documentation became increasingly important during the Industrial Revolution.
The complexity of machines and equipment demanded accurate and detailed instructions for their operation and maintenance. The development of software in the 1950s and 1960s further highlighted the need for this niched documentation. Software developers needed to document their code, algorithms, and designs to make it easier for others to understand, modify, and use.
The humble birth of documentation
Technical documentation has its origins in humble beginnings. Cast your mind back to the early days of software development. Back then, documentation wasn’t even called that. It was primarily notes made about the software or changes left as code comments, design documents, and user manuals.
When it came time to create official documentation or manuals, more often than not, they were done manually.
Developers and engineers had to step away from their main roles , and spent a significant amount of time writing, formatting, and maintaining these documents.
As software systems grew more complex, the need for more structured and standardized documentation became apparent.
Progress through the decades
In the 1970s and 1980s, technical documentation underwent a significant transformation. The emergence of structured programming languages such as Pascal and Ada led to the development of structured documentation techniques like the Program Design Language (PDL) and the Structured Systems Analysis and Design Method (SSADM).
These methods introduced a standardized approach, making it easier to understand and maintain software systems.
A comparison of online documentation solutions
There are a variety of technical documentation platforms available for software developers, DevSecOps, and DevOps teams. Here’s a brief comparison of some of the popular options:
Google Docs is a cloud-based platform that allows multiple users to collaborate on documents in real-time. It is free to use and can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. While it is not specifically designed for technical documentation, it can be used to create and share technical documents. These could be project plans, design documents, and user manuals.
However, while many users can access a document in real time, if one person selects “undo”, it undoes everyone else’s good work too.
Also, it is unable to connect multiple systems and media types to itself
Bit.ai is a cloud-based document collaboration platform that allows teams to create, share, and manage documents. It is designed specifically for businesses and offers features such as document tracking and analytics, password protection, and version control. It is a good option for technical documentation as it provides a range of formatting options and integrations with tools like Jira, Trello, and GitHub.
However, it has limitations when it comes to refined user permissions down to a paragraph-level, and cannot automatically update and format contracts and documents.
Zoho is a suite of cloud-based business tools. It includes document collaboration, project management, and customer relationship management (CRM) software. It offers a range of features for technical documentation including version control, comments, and annotations. It also integrates with popular project management tools like Jira and Trello.
Unfortunately, it has little to no document and contract automation functionality, nor does it use web-hooks to facilitate event changes from other SaaS solutions.
Box is a cloud-based file storage and collaboration platform that allows teams to securely share and access files from anywhere. It offers features such as version control, commenting, and workflow automation, which make it a good option for technical documentation. It also integrates with a range of third-party tools like Salesforce, Slack, and Microsoft Office.
And, while it does allow for users to set permissions down to the paragraph, it is unable to automatically update and reformat documents, nor does it make use of web-hooks to support event changes from other SaaS platforms.
Scriversi is a cloud-based technical documentation platform designed specifically for software developers.
Scriversi is pushing the limits on documentation automation. While it offers features such as version control, change tracking, and code snippets, which make it a good option for documenting code and technical processes, its key differentiator is that it actually looks for changes and automatically updates them on the documentation.
Web-hooks support event changes from unlimited SaaS solutions, and it connects multiple systems and media types to the document editing system. It also includes a range of templates and examples to help developers get started quickly.
It integrates easily with GitLab, GitHub, Jira, Jenkins, DataDog, Freshdesk, and more. It streamlines collaboration between team members, while still maintaining secure user-access levels down to the paragraph.
The future is now: Automate your technical documentation
Today, technical documentation has reached a new level of sophistication, with the rise of automation. Automation has transformed the way technical documentation is created, managed, and maintained. It has made the process faster, more efficient, and less error-prone.
Automated documentation should be an essential part of the software development process. It enables developers freedom to focus on what they do best, while allowing them to create and update technical documentation seamlessly.
Scriversi is a leader in automation.
New kids on the documentation blog, Scriversi is disrupting the world of technical writing. It provides developers, software engineers, and DevOps/DevSecOps professionals with a comprehensive documentation solution that automates updates as they code.
The platform offers a range of features, including documentation creation, editing, publishing, and collaboration. Scriversi simplifies the documentation process, reduces the time and effort required to create high-quality technical documentation, and frees teams up to do more productive work.
Benefits of automated technical documentation
Automated technical documentation offers several benefits over traditional manual documentation methods. Some of these benefits include:
- Efficiency: Automated documentation tools eliminate the need for manual documentation, which can be time-consuming and prone to errors. Automated tools create, edit, and update technical documentation quickly and accurately.
- Consistency: Automated documentation tools ensure that technical documentation is consistent across the entire software system. This consistency helps ensure that everyone on the team has the same understanding of the system, reducing confusion and errors.
- Accessibility: Automated documentation tools make technical documentation more accessible. Cloud-based and secure, it allows team members to access and collaborate on documentation from anywhere in the world. This accessibility improves communication and collaboration among team members.
- Maintenance: Automated documentation tools make it easier to maintain technical documentation over time. As software systems evolve, the documentation can be updated quickly and easily, reducing the risk of documentation becoming outdated or inaccurate.
- Auditable. Every change is tracked, time-stamped, and stored. Even deleted paragraphs are marked and stored for auditing purposes. This ensures compliance to even the strictest regulations and requirements.
Automate your documentation with the next step in technical writing: Scriversi
Technical documentation has come a long way since the early days of computing. As software development has evolved, so too has the need for documentation. The rise of automation has made the documentation process faster, more efficient, and more accurate, saving time and reducing the risk of errors.
Scriversi is at the forefront of this automation revolution, providing developers with a platform that automates the documentation process.
Documentation is now faster, efficient, and more accurate.