Manually code your technical documentation

Manually code technical documentation means editing and maintain manuals, guides and articles using a markup description language such as: HTML, MD, TEX, etc. Is this an old school approach or is it still used today? What’s your opinion?

Each and every software product needs to have good documentation. Let’s say that your product is an API library intended for developers. When you publish the library you have to provide also the following documentation:

Reference documentation

Reference documentation should be generated automatically from code as part of the regular build cycle. We’ll cover more about this in a future article.

Static documentation

Static documentation creation has usually a different lifecycle than the regular code activities. For creation of static documentation, modern technical writers are usually reaching to solutions such as:

With this abundance of visual tools for maintaining technical documentation, how many of you are still manually coding the documentation?

If you believe that hand coding technical documentation is a thing of past … then think again and look no further than Microsoft. The technical documentation of Azure cloud is hosted on GitHub as Markdown .MD files in this repository:

The Azure documentation is fully open source on GitHub. Anybody can contribute to it. Processed .MD files are then presented for end-users on website.

Microsoft is only one example. A lot of other companies and projects understand the flexibility of maintaining the documentation is a text based format. Are you one of these companies?

P.S. This article is created as an MD file and hosted using GitHub pages at this location. In fact, the whole CodeAvenger blog is maintained as a series of MD files on GitHub.

11 Jan 2017