15 May 2024 Β· Software Engineering

    Unlocking Efficiency: 3 AI Tools for Automatic Software Documentation

    6 min read
    Contents

    In software development, an application is only as good as its documentation. Good technical documentation requires a lot of work but is one of the best investments a company can make.

    To keep up with the need for quick and accurate guides, companies, today, are using AI tools for help. So, in this article, we’ll take a look at three AI documentation generators, check out what they offer, and weigh their pros and cons.

    Three Tools for Automatic Software Documentation

    In this section, we’ll explore the capabilities of three prominent AI-driven documentation generators:

    • Scribe
    • DocuWriter
    • Bito AI documentation generator

    We’ll explore their features and make a comparison among them to enlighten similarities, differences, and use cases.

    Scribe

    Scribe is an open source, AI-powered documentation generator.

    This tool turns any process into step-by-step tutorials along with text, code snippets, internal links, and screenshots. So, the ideal usage of this tool is to create processes on the fly, as you go.

    For example: do you know that Excel formula you use barely every day but it’s so complicated you never remember it? Well, here’s where Scribe comes into handy: while you make the process, Scribe creates the documentation for you. Once and for all.

    No more screenshots, GIFs, or videos scattered here and there: Scribe creates the documentation as you make the process, making it consistent.

    Check out how easy is to create (and share!) documentation with Scribe here.

    DocuWriter

    DocuWriter it’s an AI-powered documentation generator that creates code and API documentation from your source code files.

    In particular, DocuWriter uses AI to generate the documentation for your code, allowing you to save time while having consistent documentation, updated with the latest changes.

    The power of DocuWriter not only relies on automatically creating the documentation. It also creates tests and code refactors from your source code, allowing you to concentrate only on what matters: solving problems through your favorite programming language.

    Last but not least, you can use it directly in VS CODE, thanks to the dedicated integration.

    Bito AI Documentation Generator

    Bito documentation generator is an AI-automated software documentation generator that ensures the documentation is always up-to-date with the latest code changes.

    By Providing Bito a directory, it will automatically generate a detailed overview, visualization, and documentation for each file including:

    • Summary of the file
    • Dependencies
    • Documentation regarding classes, modules, functions, and methods.

    If the execution of Bito is successful, the output provided creates a directory that includes:

    • Modules documentation. These are individual markdown files for each module, that explain the module’s purpose, functions, and interactions.
    • Aggregated documentation. This is a comprehensive markdown file that consolidates the documentation from each module. This file also includes flow maps and visuals.

    A Comparison Among Them

    As not all the tools are useful for every scenario, in this section we want to make a comparison among these three documentation generators to understand some use cases they might be better suitable for.

    Scribe is particularly useful to document processes and procedures. Thanks to how it is developed, in fact, it registers the movements the mouse is making on the screen during the process and it creates a step-by-step guide out of it.

    This comes in handy in different situations like:

    • Troubleshooting.
    • Processes and procedures, both internal and external to the company you’re working for.

    So, Scribe may be useful for non-developer users who need to create process documentation but want to use software that speeds the process up, avoiding the creation of images and videos for, then, creating the structure elsewhere (like in Microsoft Word or Confluence, as it typically happens).

    DocuWriter, on the other hand, is a documentation generator specifically suited for a developer audience, helping it automatically create the documentation for their APIs.

    As there are a lot of documentation generators that create API documentation, DocuWriter emerges for the following features:

    • It creates tests and code refactors from the code files, not only the documentation.
    • It can be integrated into VS CODE.
    • It provides documentation both in markdown and PDF.
    • It creates the documentation for your preferred programming language, without any exceptions.

    Even Bito is particularly suited for a developer audience. The main difference between Bito and DocuWriter is that DocuWriter created the documentation for APIs while Bito created the documentation related to the source code of your project providing:

    • Documentation for modules and functions and their interactions.
    • Visuals and flow maps to represent modules’ interactions.
    • The possibility to ignore directories during the process of creating the documentation.

    Pros and Cons of Using AI Documentation Tools

    As AI is dominating almost every scenario and industry today – at least, in IT – it doesn’t mean that an AI tool is the perfect solution for your needs.

    In fact, documentation generators aren’t always the right solution to your documentation problems. So, here we want to explore the pros and cons of using AI documentation generators.

    Pros:

    Among the pros, we can consider the following:

    • Efficiency. AI documentation generators can automatically generate comprehensive documents much faster than manual writing, saving significant time and resources.
    • Consistency. These tools ensure that the documentation is consistent in style and terminology, which is crucial for maintaining the quality and clarity of user guides across different parts of the software.
    • Scalability. AI-powered tools can easily update and expand documentation to keep pace with software updates and new features without starting from scratch each time.

    Cons:

    Among the cons, we can consider the following:

    • Lack of Deep Understanding. AI may not fully grasp the nuances of user needs and the contextual use of the software, which can lead to less user-friendly documentation.
    • Over-Reliance on Inputs. The quality of AI-generated documentation heavily depends on the quality of the inputs (code annotations, comments, etc.). Poor inputs can result in poor outputs.
    • Generic Content. AI might generate documentation that is technically accurate but generic and not addressed to a specific audience. This means that it may be too specific or too poor, depending on the intended audience.

    Conclusions

    In this article, we’ve described three AI documentation generators along with their features and a comparison among them.

    While we understand the power of AI, a piece of advice we’d like to give is the following: if you’re considering using an AI documentation generator, consider also collaborating with an experienced technical Writer. In fact, as AI can speed up the process, the intervention of an experienced human is the touch that makes the portrait perfect to suites your specific needs.

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    Writen by:
    I'm a freelancer Technical Writer specialized in documenting digital products and writing articles about Python and Artificial Intelligence
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    I picked up most of my skills during the years I worked at IBM. Was a DBA, developer, and cloud engineer for a time. After that, I went into freelancing, where I found the passion for writing. Now, I'm a full-time writer at Semaphore.