Knowledge base tools for software developers

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.

Consequently, knowledge management can’t be left unhandled in IT organizations. With the remote work trend, collaboration tools have become more and more crucial. It’s important for developers to use a knowledge base in their daily work.

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. Deploying an internal knowledge base platform will help for that purpose.

Note that in this post, we don’t consider tools that provide end-users documentation or public knowledge base, 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.

Best knowledge base tools for developers

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:

Knowledge base tools for software developers

And here is the full list with the links for each solution.

Wikis:

  • ArchbeeBuild better product documentation — faster.
  • Wiki.js (OpenSource) – The most powerful and extensible open source Wiki software
  • ClickUpSave time with the all-in-one productivity platform that brings teams, tasks, and tools together in one place.
  • NotionThe all-in-one workspace — for your tasks, notes, wikis, and calendar.
  • SwimmDocumentation Platform Built for Engineers
  • ConfluenceConfluence is your remote-friendly team workspace where knowledge and collaboration meet.
  • Coda – The all-in-one doc for teams.
  • Bit.aiNext-Gen Document Collaboration Platform for Teams!
  • NuclinoA modern, simple, and blazingly fast way to collaborate – bring knowledge, docs, and projects together in one place.
  • PapyrsThe 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.
  • SlabBuild a culture of knowledge-sharing today.
  • GitBookWhere software teams break knowledge silos.
  • Developerhub.ioAll-in-One Platform for Online Documentation
  • TettraThe best way to organize and share knowledge with your teammates.
  • DocsAppCreate and publish beautiful, powerful and cloud based developer hub.

Discussions:

  • Stack Overflow For TeamsKnowledge sharing and collaboration without distractions
  • AnswerHubEmpowering 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.
  • CodeStreamNew 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.

Generators:

  • 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 PagesWebsites for you and your projects.

We hope this list will help you to pick the right knowledge base software for your context. Once you’ve made your choice, you can start to create a knowledge base and make it available in your organization!

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