In 2023, there should be no debate about the added value of great documentation in software projects. Software engineers should have access to the appropriate knowledge base, depending on the resource type and when they need it. Technical documentation for software developers can take many forms, including evergreen documentation (e.g., procedures for setting up a project), architectural principles that developers should follow in their projects, release documentation, coding standards and guidelines, onboarding guides, and more.
Documentation for technical audiences is a tough challenge for many reasons: it requires a rigorous organization to be kept up-to-date. It can quickly be put aside by engineers who often dislike spending time on maintaining documentation. One common mistake is to consider all categories of documentation at the same level: an ever-green procedure to install software is not the same as a coding standard, for instance, which regularly evolves. You don’t need this knowledge at the same time and frequency. Once you understand that, you can define different processes and channels to manage your technical documentation
In this post, we provide an overview of 35 existing tools for managing technical knowledge, which can be scattered into these main categories:
This post does not consider tools that provide end-user documentation, such as self-service portals (Zendesk, Intercom, etc.). We focus on documentation made by developers for developers. We also exclude API documentation tools, which belong to a specific domain that deserves its article.
Empowering developers and teams to learn, share, and succeed through online communities and knowledge sharing.
(Open Source) BookStack is a simple, self-hosted, easy-to-use platform for organizing and storing information.
Save time with the all-in-one productivity platform that brings teams, tasks, and tools together in one place.
New Relic CodeStream is a free open-source extension for VS Code, Visual Studio, and JetBrains.
(Open Source) Forem is an open source platform for building modern, independent, and safe communities.
Where software teams break knowledge silos. (We use it at Promyze for our public documentation)
A modern, simple, and blazingly fast way to collaborate — bring knowledge, docs, and projects together in one place.
(Open Source) Read the Docs simplifies software documentation by automating building, versioning, and hosting of your docs for you.
Connect Developers’ Knowledge and share best coding practices, fully integrated in developers tools.
That’s all, folks; we hope that post gave you an overview of the current landscape of the knowledge base tools for software developers.
Among the ones quoted above, at Promyze, we use Notion to gather material such as procedures to create new releases of our IDE extensions. We use GitBook to publish the user documentation of our platform. Finally, we use our tool Promyze internally to raise new coding standards continuously. We bring these standards directly in IDEs & during code reviews since we consider this is the moment developers need this knowledge. You don’t code with a Wiki opened in a tab.
For each kind of documentation, you must define who should update it, when, and how other engineers will be notified of this change.
Promyze, the collaborative platform dedicated to improve developers’ skills through best practices sharing and definition.
Crafted from Bordeaux, France.