We have a web-based enterprise application which has many different areas of functionality. Most of our users only have access to a limited subset of that functionality. That can range anywhere from entire sections of the site not appearing to an extra checkbox on a given page.

Needless to say, the user documentation we're currently producing (a Word file converted to PDF) is problematic - we have to maintain at least three separate versions based on the most typical configurations, updating each one when relevant sections change, and exposing features that some users within the broad groups don't have access to.

I am looking for a tool that can be used to document each individual aspect of the website (possibly with multiple variations) and then simply piece together a appropriate set of documentation as needed.

There's only two broad capabilities I'm looking for, although there's several nice to haves.


  1. The ability to edit individual sections of documentation. Each section should support:
    • Text
    • Embedding pictures
    • Some level of formatting (major headers, minor headers, etc)
  2. The ability to select certain sections and combine them into a full, distributable document. This involves:
    • Ability to control the sequence of the sections
    • Flowing from page to page and adding appropriate page numbers
    • Generating a table of contents
    • Exporting to a PDF-able format (for example: Export to Word works, because we can turn that into a PDF. Export to HTML is less useful, since it's hard to make a good PDF out of that.)

Nice to haves:

  • Either internal version control, or an format that's amenable to being checked into a source control system.
  • Smart logic about what sections to include. (One example: apply tags to each section and build documentation from everything with a given tag)
  • A hierarchy of sections to allow for more granular changes
  • A WYSIWYG editor for editing individual sections (as opposed to doing it in a markup language)

Price is not a consideration.

Does anyone know a tool that will do this?

  • Markdown is emerging as the de facto text based documentation tool - especially after being adopted by GitHub. Jul 18 '17 at 23:27
  • @ThorbjørnRavnAndersen I like markdown, and it would be perfectly fine to use it for editing the individual content sections. But I would still need the tool to take the sections, combine them, number pages etc. It's harder than just concatenating together a couple markdown files.
    – Bobson
    Jul 19 '17 at 0:31
  • How much handholding does the users of this system need? Jul 22 '17 at 8:27
  • @ThorbjørnRavnAndersen - The primary users are pretty technical people, but maintaining documentation is not their primary job. So complex is fine, but time-consuming and fiddly is probably not. I'll take anything and at least show it to them, though.
    – Bobson
    Jul 23 '17 at 2:08

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.