Ben Sears

@ben_sears

Open Source Review — BookStack

Open-source Review Series

There are a lot of great open-source projects out there, but the time-consuming process of installing, configuring, and learning new systems with no guarantees the software can even support your use-cases can be a major source of friction.

The purpose of the open-source review series is to dive into different open-source projects so you as the reader can gain an understanding of the feature set and capabilities of different open-source software so you don’t have to spend time figuring it out yourself.

BookStack — Documentation Management Platform

We are taking a look at BookStack, a platform to manage your documents. It allows you to break your work down into three groups: books, chapters, and pages. This offers a very simple, yet powerful organization strategy. BookStack is an alternative to solutions such as Atlassian’s Confluence or other documentation platforms.

View of a page in a book, navigation seen on the right.

Project Overview — As of 12/2/2017

A platform to create documentation/wiki content built with PHP & Laravel — https://www.bookstackapp.com/

Repository — https://github.com/BookStackApp/BookStack

Created By —ssddanbrown

First Commit —July 12, 2015

Latest Commit — November 19, 2017

Number of Stars — 938 (Click and ⭐️ this!)

Number of Commits — 804

Installation

Method 1 — Manual Install : Follow these instructions

Method 2 — Automated Install : Deploy BookStack on ServiceShop without a credit card

Main Features

Simple Document Management

BookStack’s purpose is to attempt to simplify the process of organizing and managing your content. By forcing your content into Books, Chapters, and Pages, it gives you an organized overview of all your documentation, without the headache. You can add documents directly in the system with it’s WYSWIG editor and export to PDF/HTML/TXT with the click of a button.

Powerful Searching

Many platforms are hindered by poor searching tools. BookStack isn’t one of those. Powered by its simple architecture, BookStack’s searching is as comprehensive as you could ever want with a simple interface to boot. Filter by Page, chapter book, tag, date, and more.

Searching allows for tags, dates, and type filtering

White Label Customization

BookStack offers the ability to brand and customize the application. The back-end also supports the ability to create custom HTML (for integrations like intercom) or CSS overrides if you don’t quite like the default theme.

Integration Points

  • LDAP Authentication — LDAP is a protocol used to authenticate users and is a common solution for SSO (single sign-on), BookStack can use LDAP to authenticate users instead of it’s own database.
  • Social Login — BookStack supports logging in with many networks including Google, Twitter, Github, Facebook, Slack, and AzureAD.
Social Login Capability

User Management

BookStack supports user registration and the ability to assign roles with different privileges (Viewer, Editor, Admin). Larger organizations will find this useful when they have many employees or interns creating, editing, and viewing the same content and they wish to limit what each user can do.

BookStack has a powerful Role based access control system

Who should consider using BookStack?

I think BookStack is perfect for smaller businesses or freelancers that are looking for something extremely simple when it comes to documentation management. If you are looking for complex workflows and integrations with project management BookStack is not right for you. What BookStack is good for is adding some simple abstractions on top of your documentation which, in most cases does the job just as good as complex systems such as Confluence or MediaWiki.

Conclusion

BookStack offers a lot when it comes to simple documentation management. As it is actively maintained I look forward to see where this awesome open-source project is going to go. Try BookStack out and don’t forget to Star it on Github!

Click here to deploy BookStack on ServiceShop without a credit card instantly

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