If you’ve ever worked on a large software project, you’ll know the pain of trying to write and maintain correct and up-to-date documentation. Accurate documentation is essential if you expect users to be able to use your software — most users won’t be able to, or won’t want to, read the code. If the project is under active development and constantly changing, documentation tends to drift out of sync with features and APIs. And, if we’re honest, most developers want to be writing code, not documentation. If documentation isn’t to become hopelessly out-of-date, documentation tools have to be low-friction and use platforms that developers and technical writers are already familiar with.
There are many solutions to the problem of writing and managing documentation, but a relatively new addition to the field recently caught my eye. Peach bills itself as “a web server for multi-language, real-time synchronization and searchable documentation.”
One of the most useful features of Peach is the way it seamlessly integrates with Git hosts. Most open source software is managed on GitHub, and many corporate software projects use self-hosted Git repositories. Of course, it’s possible to read documentation in Git or GitHub, but it’s often not the most user-friendly experience, and the opportunities for branding are limited. Peach integrates well with Git, synchronizing documentation in real time between the repository and a Peach documentation site.
Peach is written in Go, in contrast to many documentation systems which are written in PHP and the like. A major benefit of using Go is that Peach will run on any server with minimal requirements. Additionally, Go has a reputation for being extremely fast compared to higher level languages. Because Peach is a web server, rather than just a content management system that relies on an external web server like Apache, it needs little in the way of a software stack, reducing the complexity of managing a documentation platform.
As you’d expect from a modern publishing system, Peach content can be written in a Markdown, a markup system that most developers and web writers are familiar with (I’ve written about the benefits of Markdown before.)
One of Peach’s headline features is its excellent full text search system that makes it extremely easy for users to surface the content they need. Because Peach is designed to support documentation in multiple languages, its search system also offer multilingual full text search.
Peach has tough competition from other more mature documentation platforms, but if you’re looking for a self -hosted platform that’s fast, easy to install, and that will run well on any virtual private server, Peach is well worth a look.Posted in: Webmaster