I am looking for an online service for composing and hosting software user manuals, with the following features:

  • Cloud-based (public host), reliable for long term hosting
  • Supports multiple documents with multiple sections
  • Markdown syntax (preferably GitHub flavor)
  • Easy bitmap uploading
  • Table of contents
  • Allow reader's comments
  • Export to PDF (desirable)
  • Can be free or low-cost

I was thinking on a markdown-based CMS but still cannot find the right one.

  • Jamie, This site is for recommending software rather than web sites or online services. Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 9:33
  • @SteveBarnes: Sounds on-topic to me, asking for specific features like comments and table of content. It is not just HTML hosting.
    – Nicolas Raoul
    Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 10:25
  • 1
    Gratis? What is your budget? Do you want to retain copyright? Should the content be exportable to avoid lock-in? Everything public, or do you want to keep some parts restricted to a specific group of people? Do you need hyperlinks?
    – Nicolas Raoul
    Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 10:27
  • This sounds like self-hosting and thus on-topic. Did I get it right this time? Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 11:33
  • CLARIFICATION: I don't want to self-host. That's why I mention reliable long-term hosting. I am looking for some kind of SaaS. Just found manula.com, but I don't like their non-standard markdown language.
    – Jaime
    Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 12:11

3 Answers 3


Have you considered Read The Docs?

  • You can import your docs using any major version control system, including Mercurial, Git, Subversion, and Bazaar.
  • They support webhooks so your docs get built when you commit code.
  • There's also support for versioning so you can build docs from tags and branches of your code in your repository.
  • Hosting documentation is free and simple.
  • Document authoring in Markdown or ReStructuredText
  • Bitmaps, svg, etc., just get committed to your version control system.
  • Python Sphinx support
  • Supports multiple versions of documents
  • Supports downloads as HTMLZip, PDF or Epub.
  • You can host the source code for your books on github, bithub, etc.
  • Read the Docs is itself open sourced so you can have a test or internal instance running behind a firewall.
  • Searchable
  • It does not support comments directly but you can include links to a ticketing system on github, for example, or use Disqus.
  • Hosted by Rackspace
  • Lots of projects have their documentation hosted on Read The Docs so I expect some longevity from it.
  • Although it looks attractive to me (a developer), its proximity to github looks fairly technical for a document-editor and readers. The lack of comments supports is blocker, as I am not willing to do the integration myself, but rather I am looking for a complete 3rd party (SaaS) solution.
    – Jaime
    Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 12:23
  • @Jaime - Hold a training course for your developers on version control - I would suggest Mercurial, (hg), as it is really user friendly compared to git - once they discover that they can roll back versions, etc., your document authors and editors will love version control the editors will like the blame tool as well. Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 14:00
  • Steve, my developers know source versioning very well. Who nowadays doesn't? But developers don't write user manuals.
    – Jaime
    Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 15:51
  • @Jaime - Sorry I meant to write do a course for your authors & editorial staff. BTW You would be amazed at the number of developers that I know who think version control is simply copying there works somewhere else, often on the same machine, from time to time - I even had one who moaned that I was stopping him putting .bak files into SVN as well as .obj & .pdb files. Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 16:48

What I have found actually works well is Github. Afterall, it:

  • Supports native Github Markdown
  • Renders Markdown when you navigate to it
  • Maintains versions
  • Offers free hosting
  • Allows comments

Many of the features you are interested in.

  • caorogjin, I may be tempted to teach markdown to the manual editors, but github is definitively a good environment for the end-users.
    – Jaime
    Commented Aug 27, 2016 at 17:56

Make sure you check http://tome.host/

It's a SaaS plaform for writing and hosting documents/manuals, currently it's in beta.

It supports

  • multiple documents
  • multiple users in the same document
  • having a published version while you're working on a draft one
  • image support
  • exporting in different formats and some other stuff

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