In the digital age, information is the most valuable asset for any organization. The ability to store, manage, and retrieve this information effectively can be the difference between success and failure in today's competitive business environment. This is where a knowledge base comes into play.
A knowledge base is a centralized repository for information: a public library of information about a product, service, department, or topic. It's more than just a database of information—it's a living, breathing library that can grow and evolve with your organization. It can include everything from FAQs and how-to guides, to manuals, troubleshooting guides, and more.
The importance of a knowledge base cannot be overstated. It serves as the backbone of any successful customer service strategy, empowering customers with self-service options. It can drastically reduce the time and resources spent on customer support, as customers can find answers to their questions without having to reach out for help.
Internally, a knowledge base can be just as valuable. It can help new employees get up to speed more quickly, provide a resource for staff to find answers to their questions, and ensure that valuable company knowledge is stored and organized in a way that it can be easily found when needed.
Now, when it comes to choosing a knowledge base software, there are plenty of options on the market. However, open source software has some unique benefits that make it a worthy consideration.
Open source software is software with source code that anyone can inspect, modify, and enhance. This means that it's often more flexible and customizable than proprietary software. You're not locked into the software as it is—you can tweak and adjust it to fit your specific needs.
Moreover, open source software is often free to use, making it a cost-effective choice, especially for small businesses or startups with tight budgets. And because it's developed and maintained by a community of users and developers, it's constantly being improved and updated.
However, not all open source knowledge base software is created equal. It's crucial to do a little research beforehand to ensure you're not investing time into installing and learning new software that your team won't use anyway.
We know—you don’t have endless time to invest in that kind of thing (what with a business to run and all). That’s why we’ve created a helpful list of the must-consider open source knowledge base software that companies of all niches, industries, and sizes should consider.
We’re even throwing in a little helpful knowledge that should equip you with the information needed to choose the right software for you—like what knowledge base software is in the first place, the benefits of open source software, and how to address your unique needs as a company to choose the right software for you.
So, without further ado, let's dive into the world of open source knowledge base software.
OpenKM is a robust Open Source Document Management System. If you're looking for a cost-effective solution, the Community Edition of OpenKM could be your best bet.
OpenKM allows businesses to control the production, storage, management, and distribution of electronic documents. This control leads to greater effectiveness, the ability to reuse information, and to control the flow of the documents.
OpenKM integrates all essential documents management, collaboration, and an advanced search functionality into one easy-to-use solution. The system also includes administration tools to define the roles of various users, access control, user quota, level of document security, detailed logs of activity, and automation setup.
OpenKM builds a highly valuable repository of corporate information assets to facilitate knowledge creation and improve business decision making. It boosts workgroups and enterprise productivity through shared practices, better customer relations, faster sales cycles, improved product time-to-market, and better-informed decision making.
- Comprehensive Document Management: OpenKM allows businesses to control the production, storage, management, and distribution of electronic documents, yielding greater effectiveness and the ability to reuse information and to control the flow of the documents.
- Collaboration Features: OpenKM allows you to collaborate with colleagues on documents and projects.
- Advanced Search Functionality: OpenKM integrates an advanced search functionality that makes it easy to locate documents, experts, and information sources.
- Administration Tools: The system includes administration tools to define the roles of various users, access control, user quota, level of document security, detailed logs of activity, and automation setup.
- Embedded Workflow Engine: OpenKM has an embedded workflow engine to take control of your business case.
- Automation: OpenKM allows you to automate tasks, which can save time and reduce the risk of errors.
- Installation Process: The installation process of OpenKM might be a bit complex for non-technical users. However, they provide detailed installation guides and videos for different platforms, which can be helpful.
- Interface: Some users might find the interface a bit outdated compared to other modern document management systems.
- Community Support: While OpenKM does have a community of developers and technical enthusiasts, the support might not be as immediate or comprehensive as a dedicated customer support team that comes with paid solutions.
Documize is a modern, self-hosted, enterprise-grade knowledge management solution that serves as an alternative to Confluence. It's designed for both technical and non-technical users and is built to unify both customer-facing and internal documentation.
Documize is built with Golang + EmberJS and compiled down to a single executable binary that is available for Linux, Windows, and Mac. All you need to provide is your database -- PostgreSQL, Microsoft SQL Server, or any MySQL variant.
The software offers organization through labels, spaces, and categories. It also supports multiple authentication options, including LDAP, Active Directory, Red Hat Keycloak, and Central Authentication Service (CAS).
- User-Friendly: Designed for both technical and non-technical users, Documize is easy to use and navigate.
- Unified Documentation: Documize is designed to unify both customer-facing and internal documentation, making it a comprehensive knowledge management solution.
- Flexible Deployment: Documize can be deployed on Linux, Windows, and Mac, offering flexibility based on your organization's needs.
- Multiple Authentication Options: Besides email/password login, you can also authenticate via LDAP, Active Directory, Red Hat Keycloak, and Central Authentication Service (CAS).
- Localization: Documize supports multiple languages out-of-the-box, including English, German, French, Chinese, Portuguese (Brazil), and Japanese.
- Database Requirement: You need to provide your database, which might be a hurdle for non-technical users or small businesses without a dedicated IT team.
- Limited Free Version: The Community+ edition, which offers advanced capabilities and customer support, is free for the first five users. After that, pricing starts at $900 annually for 100 users.
- Interface: Some users might find the interface not as intuitive or modern as other knowledge management solutions.
Raneto is a free, open, simple Markdown powered knowledge base for Node.js. It's designed to be easy to use and is a great choice for those who prefer to write in Markdown.
Raneto is a knowledge base platform that uses static Markdown files to power your knowledge base. It's a Node.js application and is easy to install and manage. The content files are stored in the file system for easy editing and version control.
Raneto also provides a web interface that is generated on-the-fly each time a page is requested, so you don't need to worry about database management or editing HTML.
- Markdown Powered: Raneto uses Markdown for writing, which is a popular lightweight markup language with plain-text-formatting syntax. This makes it easy to write and edit content.
- No Database Required: Raneto uses the file system for storage, which means you don't need to set up and manage a database.
- Easy to Install and Manage: Raneto is a Node.js application, which is widely used and well-documented. This makes it easy to install and manage.
- Web Interface: Raneto provides a web interface that is generated on-the-fly. This means you can edit your content in Markdown, and it will be automatically converted to a web page.
- Security: Raneto emphasizes the importance of security, encouraging users to change the default username and password and providing resources for generating secure passwords.
- Limited Customization: While Raneto is simple and easy to use, it may not offer as much customization or advanced features as some other knowledge base solutions.
- Requires Node.js Knowledge: While Node.js is widely used and well-documented, managing a Node.js application might be a hurdle for non-technical users.
- Markdown Limitations: While Markdown is easy to use, it has its limitations and might not be suitable for more complex formatting needs.
4. eXo Platform
eXo Platform is an open-source digital workplace software that aims to enhance collaboration within a team or organization. It is designed to facilitate communication, collaboration, and knowledge management, thereby boosting productivity.
eXo Platform offers a wide range of features including content management systems (CMS), news management, social networking, gamification, community animation tools, and analytics. It also provides collaborative spaces, chat/video conferencing, collaborative agendas, project management tasks, and more.
eXo Platform is built on a modern architecture and software stack based on Vue.js/Vuetify and Java, ensuring a superior user experience. It also emphasizes enhanced security features, making it a reliable choice for sensitive client contexts.
- Comprehensive Features: eXo Platform offers a wide range of features that cover all areas of work, making it a comprehensive solution for digital workplaces.
- Superior User Experience: The platform focuses on providing a superior user experience with its modern architecture and software stack.
- Open Source: eXo Platform is open source, allowing for customization and flexibility.
- Enhanced Security: The platform includes enhanced security features, making it a reliable choice for sensitive client contexts.
- Complexity: With its wide range of features, eXo Platform might be overwhelming for some users, especially those who prefer a simpler, more straightforward solution.
- Technical Knowledge Required: To fully utilize and manage eXo Platform, users might need a certain level of technical knowledge.
phpMyFAQ is a multilingual, database-driven FAQ system. It supports various databases and requires PHP 8.1+ to access this data.
phpMyFAQ offers a multi-language content management system with a WYSIWYG editor and a media manager. It also provides real-time search support with Elasticsearch, flexible multi-user support with user and group-based permissions, a wiki-like revision feature, a news system, user-tracking, and more.
phpMyFAQ is designed to be a comprehensive solution for FAQ systems, offering a wide range of features and supporting multiple databases.
- Multilingual Support: phpMyFAQ supports over 40 languages, making it a great choice for international teams or user bases.
- Database-Driven: phpMyFAQ supports various databases, including MySQL, MariaDB, Percona Server, PostgreSQL, Microsoft SQL Server, and SQLite3.
- Elasticsearch Support: phpMyFAQ provides real-time search support with Elasticsearch, enhancing the user experience.
- Flexible User Permissions: phpMyFAQ offers flexible multi-user support with user and group-based permissions, allowing for easy management of user roles and access.
- PHP Requirement: phpMyFAQ requires PHP 8.1+, which might be a hurdle for some users or systems.
- Complexity: With its wide range of features and database support, phpMyFAQ might be complex to set up and manage for some users.
BookStack is a platform for storing and organizing information and documentation. It's built with PHP and Laravel, and it's designed to provide a pleasant and simple out-of-the-box experience. The platform is opinionated and aims to provide advanced power features to those who desire it without interfering with the core simple user experience.
- BookStack is intuitive and requires only basic word-processing skills to get involved in creating content.
- It provides a pleasant and simple out-of-the-box experience.
- It has a relaxed, open, and positive development philosophy.
- It has a high-level roadmap for future development, providing a sense of direction for the project.
- It supports multiple languages through the BookStack project on Crowdin.
- BookStack is not designed as an extensible platform to be used for purposes that differ from its main purpose as a knowledge base.
- Some users may find the opinionated nature of the platform limiting.
Matterwiki is a simple and beautiful wiki for teams. It's designed to store and collaborate on knowledge, making it ideal for documentation, notes, culture guidelines, employee onboarding content, and more.
- Matterwiki is designed to be simple and intuitive, making it easy for teams to store and collaborate on knowledge.
- It's designed to keep track of all information within a team, making it ideal for growing companies.
- It's built atop a JSON API, making it simple to integrate your Wiki with your mobile app or blog.
- It supports Docker, making it easy to run Matterwiki with Docker.
- The project is actively working on a stable v0.3.0 release, and some things may be broken in the meantime.
- It requires Node (version 7 or above) and npm installed on your system, which might be a barrier for some users.
- It uses Sqlite3 for the database by default, which might not be suitable for teams with a huge size and need a concurrent and flexible DBMS. However, it can be configured to use MySQL.
UVdesk is an online SAAS-based customer support helpdesk software that allows customers to communicate over email and social media with task management. It's an open-source helpdesk solution packed with all the essential tools that can be used by your organization to provide efficient support to your clients effortlessly.
- UVdesk is built on top of Symfony and Backbone.js, making it an event-driven, service-oriented helpdesk system that's easy to use and highly configurable.
- It can easily be scaled to meet your business requirements.
- It provides support by interacting with the community on their forum or their chat room.
- UVdesk is actively supported by a community of contributors.
- The project is actively working on a stable release, and some things may be broken in the meantime.
- It requires assistance in installing and setting up UVdesk on your servers.
Docz makes it easy to write and publish beautiful interactive documentation for your code. Create MDX files showcasing your code and Docz turns them into a live-reloading, production-ready site.
- Docz enables you to quickly create a live-reloading, SEO-friendly, production-ready documentation site with MDX.
- It allows customization of the look, feel, and behavior when required by leveraging GatsbyJS and Gatsby theme shadowing.
- It's used by a wide range of projects and companies, indicating its versatility and robustness.
- The current version of Docz is outdated, and the team is working on a new version that will include an entire core refactoring/rewriting by adding Astro behind the scenes as a bundler and other cool features.
- Issues related to this old version won't be answered, which might be a concern for some users.
Outline is a fast, collaborative, knowledge base for your team built using React and Node.js. It's designed to provide a pleasant and simple out-of-the-box experience.
Outline is a platform for storing and organizing information and documentation. It's built with PHP and Laravel, and it's designed to provide a pleasant and simple out-of-the-box experience. The platform is opinionated and aims to provide advanced power features to those who desire it without interfering with the core simple user experience.
- Ease of Use: Outline is intuitive and requires only basic word-processing skills to get involved in creating content.
- Out-of-the-box Experience: It provides a pleasant and simple out-of-the-box experience.
- Community Support: Outline is actively supported by a community of contributors.
- Multilingual Support: Outline supports multiple languages.
- Limited Use Case: Outline is not designed as an extensible platform to be used for purposes that differ from its main purpose as a knowledge base.
- Opinionated Nature: Some users may find the opinionated nature of the platform limiting.
Logseq is a privacy-first, open-source platform for knowledge sharing and management. It focuses on privacy and data ownership, allowing you to own your personal data while providing a user-friendly interface and powerful features.
Logseq is a local-first, non-linear, outliner notebook for organizing and sharing your personal knowledge base. You can use it to write, organize, and share your knowledge in a simple and intuitive way. It supports both Markdown and Org mode (a major mode of Emacs) syntax and can sync with various storage services.
- Privacy-First: Logseq is a privacy-first platform, allowing you to own your personal data.
- Local-First: Logseq is a local-first platform, meaning your data stays on your local device until you choose to sync it.
- Non-Linear Notebook: Logseq provides a non-linear notebook for organizing your knowledge in a way that suits you.
- Markdown and Org Mode Support: Logseq supports both Markdown and Org mode syntax, providing flexibility in how you write and organize your knowledge.
- In Development: Logseq is still in development, and while it's usable, it may have bugs and incomplete features.
- Requires Syncing for Backup: Because Logseq is a local-first platform, your data stays on your local device unless you sync it with a storage service. If you don't regularly sync your data, you may risk losing it if something happens to your device.
TiddlyWiki is self-contained, meaning it doesn't require a server to run. It can be used independently of any corporation, making it a great choice for those who value privacy and control over their data. The project has a large and active community, with over 7.4k stars and 1.1k forks on GitHub.
- TiddlyWiki is a non-linear personal web notebook, allowing for flexible organization of information.
- TiddlyWiki is self-contained and doesn't require a server to run, providing privacy and control over data.
- It has a large and active community, indicating its robustness and reliability.
- Being a single HTML file, TiddlyWiki might not be suitable for very large sets of data.
- It requires some learning curve to fully utilize its non-linear and interactive features.
Docusaurus is an open-source project for building, deploying, and maintaining open source project websites easily. It is developed and maintained by Facebook. Docusaurus is designed to be simple to start with, localizable, and customizable.
Docusaurus comes with key pages and sections you need to get started, including a home page, a docs section, a blog, and additional support pages. It also supports localization via CrowdIn, allowing you to grow your international community by translating your documentation.
Docusaurus is built with React and supports Markdown for document writing. It has a large community with over 46.3k stars and 7.1k forks on GitHub. The project is under active development with regular updates and improvements.
- Docusaurus is simple to start with, making it easy for teams to set up and use.
- It's localizable, allowing you to grow your international community by translating your documentation.
- Docusaurus is customizable, ensuring you have a site that is uniquely yours.
- It's used by a wide range of projects and companies, indicating its versatility and robustness.
- The current version of Docusaurus is outdated, and the team is working on a new version that will include an entire core refactoring/rewriting by adding Astro behind the scenes as a bundler and other cool features.
- Issues related to this old version won't be answered, which might be a concern for some users.
Gollum is a simple wiki system built on top of Git. It is designed to be compatible with GitHub and GitLab wikis, allowing you to clone your GitHub/GitLab wiki and view and edit it locally. Gollum supports a variety of markup languages and can be edited with your favorite editor or with the built-in web interface. It also supports advanced functionality like UML diagrams, BibTeX and Citation support, annotations using CriticMarkup, and mathematics via MathJax.
- Simple and easy to use.
- Supports a variety of markup languages.
- Compatible with GitHub and GitLab wikis.
- Supports advanced functionalities like UML diagrams, BibTeX and Citation support, annotations using CriticMarkup, and mathematics via MathJax.
- Requires knowledge of Git.
- Limited customization options compared to some other platforms.
MediaWiki is a free and open-source wiki software package written in PHP. It is the platform for Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects, used by hundreds of millions of people each month. MediaWiki is localized in over 350 languages and its reliability and robust feature set have earned it a large and vibrant community of third-party users and developers.
- Highly feature-rich and extensible.
- Scalable and suitable for both small and large sites.
- Simple to install.
- Available in over 350 languages.
- Can be complex to configure and manage, especially for larger installations.
- The interface may feel dated compared to some newer platforms.
- Requires a server with PHP and a database.
Choosing the right knowledge base software is a crucial decision that can significantly impact the efficiency of your team and the satisfaction of your users. Each of the software solutions we've discussed has its strengths and potential drawbacks, and the best choice depends on your specific needs and circumstances.
If you're looking for a simple and easy-to-use solution, Gollum might be the right choice. It's compatible with GitHub and GitLab wikis, supports a variety of markup languages, and even offers advanced functionalities like UML diagrams and mathematics via MathJax.
On the other hand, if you need a highly feature-rich and extensible platform that can scale with your needs, MediaWiki could be a better fit. It's the platform behind Wikipedia, localized in over 350 languages, and has a large and vibrant community of users and developers.
TiddlyWiki and Docusaurus offer unique features like a non-linear personal web notebook and the ability to build, deploy, and maintain open-source project websites easily, respectively.
Meanwhile, solutions like Documize and BookStack provide a more traditional knowledge base experience with a focus on ease of use and collaboration.
In the end, the best open-source knowledge base software for you will depend on your specific needs, technical resources, and the nature of the information you want to manage. By understanding the pros and cons of each option, you can make an informed decision that will benefit your team and your users in the long run.
Remember, the key to a successful knowledge base is not just the software you use, but how you use it. Whichever solution you choose, make sure to invest time in organizing your information in a way that's easy to navigate, keeping your content up-to-date, and training your team on how to use the platform effectively. With the right approach, a knowledge base can become a powerful tool for improving productivity, collaboration, and customer satisfaction.
If you are unsure where to start, do not have the resources to set up and maintain an open-source knowledge base or simply want to get your hands on writing documentation and help articles as quickly as possible, try HelpCenter.io with 14 days of free trial.