Open Source Documentation Software
BookStack is proud to be an open source & free alternative to many existing closed-source & paid offerings. On this page we’ll go though the reasons why we think using an open source documentation option can be a benefit to you or your business.
Control Your Own Data
BookStack is self-hosted open source software, meaning that we supply the code for you to run on your own systems within your own environment, or in a location where you trust. You don’t need to put your faith in a third party to keep your information secure and you don’t need to keep track of what other parties they may be sending your data to.
Hosted closed-source services often sneak in the use of various tools, to help meet business requirements, such as usage analytics and marketing tracking. Even in the best intentions of such uses, they can sometimes leak more data and present another entity that needs to be trusted. This can especially complicate implementation when you are storing details of customers, where they may have their own security requirements. With BookStack, we don’t need to include such systems since we get feedback direct from the community. If you don’t trust us the source code is freely available for self-review, and you can sandbox/limit your own instance within your own environment as much as necessary.
Free in Price, Free in Limits
BookStack is a free documentation platform, meaning you can start up an instance without spending any money on the software, with direct access to the code needed. No sign-up form where you have to provide your email, no salesperson chasing you down while assess the product.
Many paid offerings charge per user per month/year. Having to get finance involved can be a hinderance to wider adoption, which can be vital for the success of a documentation platform. For your central information, concern of payment should not be a point of contention when trying to onboard a new department. We believe access to a shared information store should be as frictionless as possible.
Even if you can afford a paid offering now, that may not be the case down the line once prices are raised or when profits are limited. You don’t want to be in position of deciding who loses access in an effort to reduce costs. Nor would you want to promote insecure practices (such as user account sharing) to meet user limits.
Speaking of insecure practices, we don’t charge extra for advanced authentication features like many paid services do. Once something is added to the core code-base, it’s available to all. Features like SAML2, LDAP and multi-factor-auth are baked into the platform.
Customize to Requirements
Since BookStack is open source under the MIT license, you can take the source code and make whatever changes are needed to make it fit your usage. This isn’t an ideal route for most users on a day-to-day basis, since you’ll need to maintain any such changes as BookStack evolves, but it can be extremely useful in a pinch if there’s an ability/feature/tweak you absolutely need which has not been implemented in the core project. By using in-house development skills, or by finding a developer familiar with the popular frameworks we use, you can achieve anything that’s possible since you have free access to the code. Conversely, when using a hosted closed source offering, you have little option other than to hope the service provider listens to, and implements, your request.
Even if not looking to hack around your own instance, our work is done in the open and we’re available via fairly direct means on GitHub, Discord or Reddit. Rather than providing feedback via a non-responsive support portal, you can get involved and join development discussions directly and even help out with the project if desired. By being part of an open project you can help in building a platform that can then be used by anyone else, no matter their location or financial capabilities. Even if core development work stops, the project is under a license which means it can be forked by anyone else to continue development. That same cannot be said for a closed system.