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, coding standards sharing
- 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 tool, with their tagline.
- 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.
- Slab - 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.