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Which SaaS for managing user guide?


#1

We’re using a SaaS for the Feature Upvote user guide. However the uptime is not great. So I’m considering other options.

Do you use a SaaS for docs/user guide/FAQ that you are happy with? Does it offer sensible pricing, and a custom domain? If so, I’d be grateful to hear your experiences.


#2

We started with a SaaS long ago, but ultimately decided to move to a static site builder (currently nanoc) publishing automatically to GitHub pages with each successful Travis build.


#3

Like @aeden, we also started with a SaaS and eventually switched to a static site builder (currently Jekyll), which we host via an S3 bucket and CloudFront.


#4

We are using static site builder as well, currently http://www.mkdocs.org/. We host it in https://etlworks.com/docs and publish directly from Bitbucket.


#5

Building mine right now, decided static site builder. Started with mkdocs, tried Jekyll and now on Hugo. More to do with finding a theme I liked rather than anything else. :slight_smile: Likely to host either on folder on current site or S3. Haven’t decided yet.


#6

Have you considered integrating the user guide with a helpdesk?
I do like the groove widget, which allows you to show the user guide inside of you app, but have no experience myself.


#7

I think it is an overkill. User guide/docs are mostly static, what’s the point in having them in SaaS? Static pages are much and predictably faster.

Comments to doc pages can be added via a commenting system - that one should be a SaaS, yep.

P.S. Using Hugo. Mostly because it runs on Windows (where I do my work) and Linux (where I do my build) and requires NO dependencies.


#8

Thanks all. I find it interesting that you’ve all gone for static site generators.

I mostly agree. However…

Advantage of a CMS-style SaaS for a user guide

A non-technical staff member can easily add and edit pages. When I evaluated Hugo as a static site generator, I found that if I made one typo, particularly in the header section, the result can be a bunch of confusing error messages on the command line. Us software developers have no problem with that, but I didn’t think it would be particularly fair to expect a non-programmer to have to deal with that.


#9

This is a fair point. Everyone on the team has to get comfortable with GitHub and Markdown at minimum, and those two items are fairly difficult for a non-technical team member. It might be worth investing a little bit of time on a workflow that lets your non-technical team members edit a markdown file locally or otherwise, and then have it automatically take the steps to get into a PR at GitHub, which allows for reviewing and cleanup.


#10

Not SaaS, but we use Help&Manual, a Windows desktop application. It has an option to export the user guide to static HTML pages (in addition to PDF, CHM and others). It is really convenient to generate different formats from a single source. It offers wysiwyg editor. We also use SVN server to track changes.

Here’s how html version looks like: http://bit.ly/2yfaYHM


#11

I’ve used Help & Manual for this type of thing before - it worked very well. Easy editing experience.


#12

Although it doesn’t have an upvote feature, we use HelpScout which has helpdesk and documentation. Couldn’t be happier with the ease of use or functionality.


#13

Have you thought about using a Discourse forum for this? This way it can double as documentation and people can also post questions if they have any that can serve has helpful documentation for other users who might have the same question. You can also create wiki topics that can be edited by trusted community members.

As an example site using this for documentation you can checkout the Discourse Meta #howto category.


#14

You can also use Dr. Explain as I did for a few years. It’s handy if you want to annotate lots of screenshots, however I was not thrilled by the pages it generated, and customizing it was (back then at least) not terribly smooth.

While I’m here I can’t help but mention that my experiences creating help and documentation sites is what led me to build my second product, Cicerone which is a standalone rich structured HTML content editor.

It’s lacking a number of important features right now but if your requirements are minimal (small site, single author) it should work well. I hope to open to alpha testers soon, please get in touch if interested.


#15

Thank you for mentioning our product Dr.Explain, @Oliver . For the recent years the product was improved significantly. Although it’s a desktop app rather than a SaaS @SteveMcLeod is looking for, I’d be glad to answer any questions about it - here or privately.


#16

I used to use Help & Manual and before that Help n’Doc I think it was called. The problem I’ve always found with traditional help files — online and offline — is that the vast majority of users will never read them. The dry format and in depth nature of the content is an actual deterrence for the average user. For technical products with a technical user, that’s different — but not by much.

The approach I now take is to structure “Help” sections more like a Blog, with a series of posts that describe a particular part of the product or workflow — with some crossover and duplication between posts. This is far more readable for users, and a lot of them actually do read these posts, or at least dip into them. It’s not about documenting every button or menu, it’s about informing the user so they can do what they need to do.

The content is simply static pages on the product website — I don’t see why a SaaS would come into play here at all.


#17

Which SaaS were you using?

We use a static markdown file, that is rendered to html by Jvascript on the fly. The Javascript lib is named “Flatdoc”. Here’s how it looks: https://www.jitbit.com/helpdesk/helpdesk-api/