Software Documentation and Help Files

A software product we have been developing recently reached the successful stage of needing end-user, How-To documentation. For a while, as sales increased we told current and prospective customers that documentation was on the radar but as features were evolving and changing we were waiting until the right moment to begin documenting the application. In other words, we were stalling as long as we could. Then when a recent prospect mentioned (what we already knew) that documentation was a sign of product maturity and they passed on purchasing based on that, the moment had come.

Writing documentation is probably one of the most tiresome jobs for a developer to do which is why we avoid it all costs and typically only do it when forced to do so and when there’s no one else to trick into doing it. It’s not usually a creative process which software development tends to be (which developers are drawn to) and it’s very likely to change in the future as the software changes so it needs to be frequently revised.

With that said, we thankfully discovered a great tool to help with the effort.  Help-n-Doc is fairly priced and has tons of built-in tools that you would hope and expect to find in a help/documentation authoring tool It can generate standard Windows CHM help files, Web-based documentation, smartphone specific websites, printable PDF and Word documents as well as ePub and Kindle eBooks and cross platform Qt Help files.

It has made a painful process far less painful and almost makes you look forward to writing documentation.  Yeah, right.