readme

Beautiful Documentation Made Easy

Discussion

most upvoted
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Gregory Koberger — Founder, ReadMe.io
Hey all, founder here! I've worked at a bunch of startups, and inevitably we'd have to make a dev.startup.com and I'd wonder why we were re-inventing the wheel each time. Every startup needs this, they all have the same basic features, yet every startup has to do it themselves.

Ergo, ReadMe! It's more than just documentation; it's a full developer hub for your community. The goal is to make it so any startup can have beautiful, interactive, collaborative, Stripe-quality docs without wasting valuable time that should be spent making their core product even more awesome!
Jim Carter III — Cause Hacker
@gkoberger beautifully done. Funny you say "Stripe-quality" because that was the first thing I saw when I checked out the 3-col example as well. Granted I don't know if Stripe was the first to implement that style API documentation, it seems they've owned the look. Personally the last time I planned a round of dev docs I considered building that same style as well, but didn't want it to look the same and feel like a copy. Curious how others feel about API documentation styles and if we should have a standard like this.

I do really like the integrated tester, that's a big win. Not sure if it's intended but the try feature on your first example produces a 404.
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Gregory Koberger — Founder, ReadMe.io
@noinput Thanks for the feedback! I begrudgingly added the Stripe-style docs; it was the #1 requested feature. Which is understandable; they do look great. I've slowly started to really like them, too. I would love to eventually take a step back, though, and see if I can come up with a new, unique style.

The examples are all *really* bad. That was my plan for today, to flesh them out. Then I ended up on PH by mistake :) I'll fix them ASAP!
@gkoberger Really excited about this service. We use GitHub wiki extensively, but it's always been the least loved of their features (seemingly).

Wonder what kind of pricing experiments you guys did before settling at these price points.
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Gregory Koberger — Founder, ReadMe.io
@abhic Good question. We spent a ton of time talking about and reworking the pricing.

We really wanted a free tier. I believe beautiful, easy to maintain documentation should be free for every developer.

As for the paid, we looked at it from the perspective of how long it would take a developer to create a basic developer hub (let alone one with all the features ReadMe has). We talked with a bunch of companies (many of whom had a full-time engineer or two working on the developer hub), and picked $99 for a reason. We started with the assumption that the average SF engineer costs a company approximately $200k/year, which works out to be $100/hr if he works 40 hours a week and gets two weeks off.

So, that's where $99 came from (although it's currently $39.50 for PH users!). We're insanely confident we can save any company *at least* one hour a month in engineering time – although weeks saved is a much more accurate unit of measurement :)

As fas as how we compare? Mashery costs $9k/month, and Apigee is pretty close. GetSatisfaction is $1k+/month, ZenDesk adds up quick, too. All of these offer features ReadMe does not, however we think our features are perfectly tailored to most startups' needs.
@gkoberger This is a really interesting case study in Pricing.

You have laid out some broad issues in here - product, research, competition, value proposition and customer benefits. Will do my best to digest it all :)

So, we have done a bunch of testing in a similar space - everything from $-1 (we pay the end user) to $0 to $1 to $10 - $500. We have full time users (developers) for your product (Readme), but we certainly don't cost them on our balance sheet the same way a pre-revenue SF Co might. We use GitHub a lot & now with GDrive getting better with their plugins, our requirements are met. We kinda sorta use ZenDesk, thanks to their 'Startup' plan.

For a service such as yours, where there is going to be entrenchment (lock-in) over time, I think the only thing I would care about is to identify the cohorts in the first few quarters

- will never pay
- will pay X > 0 for beta
- will pay $MarketValue for post-beta

My focus would be to keep track of every single relationship with every single user. Then I will be able to experiment my way up the 'engagement ladder' with them.

- will never pay
-- what material benefits are possible
--- product testing (great products take time)
--- referrals
--- $1
- will pay X > 0 for beta
-- what features will they pay more for from the current roadmap

These two cohorts are the most interesting to me. In our service, we discovered that the

- will never pay

cohort will pay us $10 for a one-time fee to unlock key features in our app (think in-app upgrades) but balk at any mention of 'monthly' charges on their credit cards.

Seeing that you guys just came out of the gates, this pricing surprised me. But your reasoning was interesting. Maybe you guys are chasing different proof-points than I assume you might be in this phase of your startup. Will be following your progress :)

Best of luck with your next milestones.

(Whoa! this was a long ass reply...sorry bud.)
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Gregory Koberger — Founder, ReadMe.io
@abhic Awesome analysis, would love to talk more! Maybe move to greg @ readme ? :)
Ryan Hoover — Product Hunt
You're a baller, @gkoberger:



Glasshole Kitty and Glasshole Owl could be friends. Congrats on the launch. :)
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Gregory Koberger — Founder, ReadMe.io
@rrhoover I can't imagine how much I've annoyed you over the past 6 months with my "I'm totally launching next week!"s :)
Ryan Hoover — Product Hunt
@gkoberger "If you're not embarrassed at launch..." ;)
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Gregory Koberger — Founder, ReadMe.io
@rrhoover oh I'm embarrassed still :)
Chris Tosswill — Product Manager, Facebook
@rrhoover been trying to convince @gkoberger of this for weeks, months, years ;)
John Edgar — CEO at stae.co, former VP Strategy DO.co
It's like bootstrap for documentation. Pretty nifty.

a++
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Gregory Koberger — Founder, ReadMe.io
@jedgar Thanks John! We're using you guys for all our tasks that require heavy lifting (syncing, git stuff, etc) :)
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Jack Smith — Serial Entrepreneur & Startup Adviser
This just launched publicly out beta last week and looks awesome; with some great examples at the bottom of the page.
Jordan Coeyman — Founder @OptKit
So this is a "phileas & fogg" product.. meaning you built this on a Costa Rica getaway/hackathon in 80 days, right? This is an extremely interesting way to launch a product! What was that experience like? I'll be trying out your product too, I think something like this will definitely save me a lot of time.
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Gregory Koberger — Founder, ReadMe.io
@acoyfellow yup, the MVP was built in Costa Rica. I've been meaning to write a blog post... but basically, it was awesome. We got to travel and explore a new country, with almost none of the distractions you'd have in SF. Highly recommend anyone looking to start a company consider doing it in a foreign country; one of the best experiences of my life.
Jesse Pollak — product founder at clef
We used readme to re-do our documentation at Clef [1] after I tweeted asking if anyone knew of a SaaS for docs and @gkoberger set me up with the beta [2]. Two days after first signing up, we had turned our previously ugly documentation into something that we were very proud of.

@gkoberger has built an easy-to-use, beautiful tool that I'm 100% sure will, all by itself, created a new, much improved, baseline for the startup docs on the web.

[1] https://getclef.com
[2] https://twitter.com/jessepollak/...
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Gregory Koberger — Founder, ReadMe.io
@jessepollak totally going to add your testimonial ASAP :) didn't forget!
Sean Rucker — CTO, Rover
I'm using this product for our upcoming developer portal and it is just fantastic. Well crafted and solves a real need. Founders are awesome too.
Marc — Hackerpreneur Mag & Letterlist.com
Love this page https://dash.readme.io/login.
Click on the password field.
Ali Russell — CTO, Tray.io
How would you guys compare yourself to apiary.io ?
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Gregory Koberger — Founder, ReadMe.io
@alirussell Great question!

If you want to prototype and test APIs, apiary is perfect. It even has good public facing way to browse APIs.

However, the ability to document an API is more of a side effect of their core product. Your page is branded with Apiary in the top left, and there's not really a focus on topical guides or tutorials. It's focused on API end points, which is similar to handing someone a dictionary and saying "learn English".

Lastly, readme has a huge focus on community. Support snd comments, plus the ability for anyone in the community to suggest edits. This helps keep your docs up to date.

Apiary is great for certain use cases, but the target markets are significantly different.
Kishan Gupta — Co-founder, UXCam
@gkoberger Great product that I recommend it to all my friends. Look forward to integrating it soon.
Frank Denbow — Founder, StartupThreads.com
Got started using this a few weeks ago and I really like it. Many of the documentation challenges have been artfully thought through. Highly recommend!
Hrishi Mittal — Founder, Learnetto.com
Mindblowing design.
Owen Williams — Special Projects at Crew
We've been using this at our startup, Hoist, and it's amazing. Have been hunting for years for a decent documentation CMS and it just didn't exist until we found this. It's perfect. You can check out what it looks like in real-world action here: http://hoist.readme.io
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Gregory Koberger — Founder, ReadMe.io
@ow Thanks for the love, Owen! Really impressed by how unique yours looks.
Nick Zieber — Consultant - Xpand, Hong Kong
@gkoberger There's a glasshole owl? That's epic.
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Gregory Koberger — Founder, ReadMe.io
@nzieber I wouldn't have it any other way :)
Samuel Beek — Makes Digital Product
I really like this product. There's so much to improve in terms of documentation for loads of products. Will there be an option to integrate the documentations in something like dash? so a developer can search through all the API's he uses at the same time? not just for one particular product.
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Gregory Koberger — Founder, ReadMe.io
@samuelbeek Yup, something like that is the next step. Here's my rough roadmap:

* Version 1: individual developer hubs, which will hopefully get lots of users and APIs in the system.
* Version 2: start doing things like app management (i.e. a dashboard where your users can create/delete/etc apps and manage keys)
* Version 3: everyone's developer keys and APIs will be in one location, so we can start doing cool stuff to make everyone's lives easier. (But don't worry, the developer hubs are here to stay! I don't believe APIs belong on a GitHub-esque central location; they're too core to a company's brand.)

That being said, a more short-term option would be for ReadMe to generate Dash-compatible docs. I'll add that on the roadmap, too!
Samuel Beek — Makes Digital Product
@gkoberger I understand your roadmap. Adding something like dash-export would be amazing! Keep up the great work: it looks very slick:) from what I've seen so far.
George Deglin — CEO, OneSignal Push Notifications
Looks great. This is something I've found myself desperately needing recently. I love the community feature in particular.

Here are my thoughts:
1. The pricing is a bit steep for us, even with the Product Hunt discount.

2. Being able to host things on a subdomain is good, but hosting in a subdirectory would be even better for SEO. Of course this is much more difficult from a technical perspective, but it would be a huge selling point for us.

Here's what Moz.com says about this:
"I would still strongly urge folks to keep all content on a single subdomain. We recently were able to test this using a subdomain on Moz itself (when moving our beginner's guide to SEO from guides.moz.com to the current URL http://moz.com/beginners-guide-t...). The results were astounding - rankings rose dramatically across the board for every keyword we tracked to the pages." [1]

3. Being able to integrate our own authentication system would be nice.

[1]: http://moz.com/community/q/moz-s...
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Jack Smith — Serial Entrepreneur & Startup Adviser
@gdeglin what sort of systems are you thinking for #3 ?
George Deglin — CEO, OneSignal Push Notifications
@_jacksmith We use Rails+Devise for authentication (https://github.com/plataformatec...). So anything we can plug into that would work well.

A more generalized approach could be for us to send the user's username & email with an HMAC signature in the URL and have them be automatically signed in with that.
Derek Skaletsky — Founder & CEO, @knowtifyio, @sherlock_SF
Congrats @gkoberger! We've been using ReadMe for a while. Moved our api.knowtify.io content over here after v1. It's been huge to get documentation updating off engineering's plate...
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Gregory Koberger — Founder, ReadMe.io
@dskaletsky Thanks for being an awesome beta tester, Derek!
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Jack Smith — Serial Entrepreneur & Startup Adviser
@dskaletsky api.knowtify.io is a dead link for me
Derek Skaletsky — Founder & CEO, @knowtifyio, @sherlock_SF
@_jacksmith Exactly! Thanks to Readme.io!

I'm sure @gkoberger would love that answer, but the reality is I was mistaken earlier. We had our documentation at knowtify.io/api :))

It's still live, but we haven't updated it in a long time - all updates are on http://knowtify.readme.io/
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Jack Smith — Serial Entrepreneur & Startup Adviser
@dskaletsky I can confirm that the readmeio api version looks a lot better!
Jisi Guo — Lyft Product Designer, Camoji Co-founder
This solves a huge pain point with simplicity and great design! Kudos @gkoberger!
Kelly Taylor — Product at IBM Watson
We used Readme.io to launch our News API product this week. Aside from awesome docs, I actually used all the examples we had put together in the docs to demo the product for two days at the IBM Watson conference. Show don't Tell is so powerful.

http://docs.alchemyapi.com/v1.0/...
Like the idea of this a lot. There are a couple of 'standardized' formats like swagger for documenting API's - does readme support any?

I was wondering if you have any idea why none of the example integrations (even brick.mozilla) have any activity in the support/community section? It seems like a nice idea but I perhaps it's not something that developers want/need...
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Gregory Koberger — Founder, ReadMe.io
@tommoor Thanks Tom! We're currently using APIDoc (apidocjs.com), since it felt the most right to me: inline comments, every explicit, matched how ReadMe works. However, the eventual goal is to have convertors for Swagger,etc.

As for community – honestly, probably because all of them just launched within the past week (along with ReadMe). Brick, for example, was hosted as a GitHub page until last week. That's not much time for people to start asking questions. You may still be right, I guess we'll see :)

That being said, the "Suggest Edits" feature has been getting *a lot* of usage. If nothing else, people love the community aspect in that regard.

See you again at the next PH brunch!
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Jack Smith — Serial Entrepreneur & Startup Adviser
@gkoberger the suggest edits feature seems an awesome addition
@gkoberger cool stuff, I hope the community section does get used for questions as it would add a lot of value to the product!

Seriously considering implementing for our docs. :-)
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