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Which Framework Has the Best Documentation?

I was curious about which PHP framework has the best documentation and how Nette ranks among them. But how can you find out?

We all know that the worst scenario is having no documentation at all, followed by inadequate documentation. The opposite is extensive documentation. It seems, therefore, that the sheer volume of documentation is an important indicator. Of course, its understandability and currency, as well as readability and accuracy, play a huge role. These factors are very difficult to measure. However, I know from my own experience how many sections of Nette's documentation I have rewritten multiple times to make them clearer, and how many corrections I have merged, and I assume this happens with any long-standing framework. Thus, it appears that all documentation gradually converges towards a similar high quality. Therefore, I allow myself to take the sheer volume of data as a guide, though it is an oversimplification.

Of course, the volume of documentation must be proportional to the size of the library itself. Some are significantly larger than others and should accordingly have significantly more documentation. For simplicity, I determine the size of the library by the volume of PHP code, normalized for white space and excluding comments.

I created a chart showing the ratio of English documentation to code for well-known frameworks CakePHP (4.2), CodeIgniter (3.1), Laravel (8.62), Nette (3.1), Symfony (5.4), YII (2.0), and Zend Framework (2.x, no longer in development):

As you can see from the chart, the extent of documentation relative to the code is more or less similar across all frameworks.

CodeIgniter stands out. I tip my hat to CakePHP and YII, which strive to maintain documentation in a range of other languages. The comprehensiveness of Nette's documentation is above average. Additionally, Nette is the only framework that has a 1:1 translation in our native language.

The purpose of the chart is NOT to show that one framework has so many percent more comprehensive documentation than another. The metric is too primitive for that. Instead, the purpose is to show that the extent of documentation among the various frameworks is largely comparable. I created it mainly for myself, to get an idea of how Nette's documentation compares to its competitors.

Originally published in August 2019, data updated for October 2021.

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