Software engineers need knowledge base tools to create and maintain valuable technical documentation. The State of Octoverse 2021 report by GitHub stated:
“Documentation is good for productivity and culture. Recent research shows that quality documentation improves performance. It shouldn’t be a surprise that good documentation practices support not only better cultures where developers feel fulfilled but also help them do their work“.
The DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA) 2021 report also mentioned that:
[…] documentation is foundational for successfully implementing DevOps capabilities. Teams with high-quality documentation are 3.8x more likely to implement security best practices and 2.5x more likely to fully leverage the cloud to its fullest potential.
That means developers should have access to efficient knowledge-sharing tools designed for the software engineering context.
Technical documentation for software developers can have multiple forms:
- Evergreen documentation, e.g., procedures on how to set up a project.
- Architectural principles that developers should follow in their projects
- Release documentation
- Coding standards and guidelines
- Onboarding guides
and even more.
Note that in this post, we don’t consider tools that provide end-users documentation such as self-service portals (Zendesk, Intercom, …). We talk about documentation made by developers for developers. We also excluded API documentation tools, which belong to a specific domain that deserves its own article.
We gathered 30 tools useful to manage technical documentation. We grouped them into 5 categories:
- Wikis: these tools provide a platform and a UI to manage content
- Discussions: Q&A and forums, share coding standards
- Generators: documentation creation from source code files
Here is the big picture of the 30 knowledge base tools for developers:
And here is the full list with the links for each solution.
- Archbee – Build better product documentation — faster.
- Wiki.js (OpenSource) – The most powerful and extensible open source Wiki software
- ClickUp– Save time with the all-in-one productivity platform that brings teams, tasks, and tools together in one place.
- Notion – The all-in-one workspace — for your tasks, notes, wikis, and calendar.
- Swimm – Documentation Platform Built for Engineers
- Confluence – Confluence is your remote-friendly team workspace where knowledge and collaboration meet.
- Coda – The all-in-one doc for teams.
- Bit.ai – Next-Gen Document Collaboration Platform for Teams!
- Nuclino – A modern, simple, and blazingly fast way to collaborate – bring knowledge, docs, and projects together in one place.
- Papyrs – The easiest way to create an online intranet for your company
- BookStack (Open Source) – BookStack is a simple, self-hosted, easy-to-use platform for organizing and storing information.
- Slab – Build a culture of knowledge-sharing today.
- GitBook – Where software teams break knowledge silos.
- Developerhub.io – All-in-One Platform for Online Documentation
- Tettra – The best way to organize and share knowledge with your teammates.
- DocsApp – Create and publish beautiful, powerful and cloud based developer hub.
- Stack Overflow For Teams – Knowledge sharing and collaboration without distractions
- AnswerHub – Empowering developers and teams to learn, share, and succeed through online communities and knowledge sharing
- Flarum (Open Source) – Forums made simple. Modern, fast, and free!
- Forem (Open Source) – Forem is an open source platform for building modern, independent, and safe communities.
- CodeStream – New Relic CodeStream is a free open-source extension for VS Code, Visual Studio, and JetBrains.
- Promyze – Connect Developers’ Knowledge and share best coding practices, fully integrated in developers tools.
- Docusaurus (OpenSource) – Build optimized websites quickly, focus on your content
- Hugo (OpenSource) – The world’s fastest framework for building websites
- Daux.io (OpenSource) – The Easiest Way To Document Your Project
- SkyDocs (OpenSource) – SkyDocs is a lightweight static documentation builder with MarkDown.
- Sphinx (OpenSource) – Sphinx makes it easy to create intelligent and beautiful documentation.
- Read The Docs (Open Source) – Read the Docs simplifies software documentation by automating building, versioning, and hosting of your docs for you.
- MkDocs (Open Source) – Project documentation with Markdown
- GitHub Pages – Websites for you and your projects.