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Implementing a Knowledge Management Solution?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the keeping-track-of-it-all dept.

Data Storage 53

dirtkilla asks: "I work for a large health care software vendor in our remote hosting area. Recently we've been asked to look into a Knowledge Management/Doc Repository type solution to implement. I have researched and installed a few options: C-arbre and TikiWiki. C-Arbre is lacking in documentation and Tiki seems pretty bloated. I'm facing people pushing to implement Microsoft Share Point, I'd much rather go towards an open non-Microsoft solution." How would you organize a variety of information, both digital and non-digital, into an easy to maintain system that just about anyone can use?

"We currently log all our technical info/instructions etc in Microsoft Word docs, emails and scribbles on paper. Share Point seems to be a logical solution for our collection of Microsoft Word documents, however I'm not much for loading Word to view something that could be displayed or edited in a browser.

I really like the Wiki idea, and found a VB script to convert Word to Wiki. However large documents may be a pain to do this with, and some people may not be comfortable with such a change. I can upload documents to the site and tie them to a particular page/File Gallery but I'm not sure about search functions searching the text of the document. I'd also like a way to export info, possibly to RTF/XML/HTML or some format that Word can read/edit/save and then import to the Knowledge Share.

I was hoping someone would have some advice/ideas/experience with getting this setup. Ultimately we'd like Searching, Grouping, LDAP authentication, Calendar functionality (we use Outlook so who knows), document storage, and Wiki functionality. It is the hope that something useful and user friendly which non-technical people would be comfortable using."

cancel ×

53 comments

Wakka Wiki (3, Interesting)

JoeBaldwin (727345) | more than 10 years ago | (#8813048)

Get a LAMPS solution with Wakka Wiki [wakkawiki.com] . The Wiki source comes to about 500kb, and can be infinitely customised. It's pretty damn cool...

Re:Wakka Wiki (0, Offtopic)

JoeBaldwin (727345) | more than 10 years ago | (#8813067)

Oh yeah, and FP :)

Mod Grand-Parent Down! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8813117)

Purely out of spite.

Re:Wakka Wiki (2, Interesting)

caseydk (203763) | more than 10 years ago | (#8817985)


It depends on how you define knowledge management...

If someone means purely a document repository, then DocSearcher ( http://sourceforge.net/projects/docsearcher/ ) may take care of it.

If someone means purely a FAQ system, then a Wiki may be the way to go.

If someone means a collaborative suite, then EGroupWare ( http://www.egroupware.org/ ) may be the way to go.

If you just want discussion forums, then phpBB2 ( http://www.phpbb.com/ ) may be the way to go.

Personally, this sounds like a collaborative suite with a doc repository bolted on. I'd go with EGroupWare.

Plone 2 (4, Informative)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 10 years ago | (#8813074)

I'd recommend Plone v 2.0

WhyPlone [plone.org]

It incorporates the Wiki features you mentioned, has support for authenticating against Active Directory and LDAP, even SMB if that is what you use and it has a fully implemented ACL system with granular permissions which includes adding files/documents as content and setting global, group and user specific permissions on each file or on folders "with inheritance".

Not to mention one of the best documented APIs around for any OS CMS.

Check it out, it is very robust and scales well.

Re:Plone 2 (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8813685)

Good link. I'm thinking of implementing it at home.

At the office we implemented VQWiki (because it was needed there and then). We also had a static HTML page system and tried to implement a PHPNuke based system. All of these were shot down by bloody management. Since we are a Java Software house, apparently we are not allowed to use any technology developed in other languages. My arse. There has been an internal project to create such a content system for the last two years and it is still completely unusable and basicly it's a piece of crap but that's what Management decided to use.

As a result, after two and a half years since we installed the first wiki site, we still don't have any CMS and no one cares. Bloody managers.

Re:must be java-based (2, Interesting)

Felonius Thunk (168604) | more than 10 years ago | (#8816740)

If it has to be, why not something like OpenCMS [opencms.org] ? It's java-based and quite robust, though not nearly as feature-full as something like Plone.

Re:Plone 2 (2, Interesting)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 10 years ago | (#8823562)

Another option I'd recommend for straight CMS for intranet is Sitellite which is a commercial CMS gone GPL this year. It's still pretty early in it's Open Source life span but very mature. Some of the out of the box features are missing but the API is awesome and it's content publishing workflow is perfect for non-technical users. Oh yeah it is PHP/MySQL but uses a Java daemon for it's search index creator.

http://www.sitellite.org

Re:Plone 2 (2, Interesting)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 10 years ago | (#8814366)

I would recommend Plone as well. It's the bee's knees. The technologies it runs on (Python and Zope) are absolutely top-notch as well.

TWiki (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8813154)

I am new to the world of Wikis -- especially as an administrator. I was tired of keeping my notes in a giant text file though. It was growing to about 1mb and was difficult to deal with. I tried an application called "WikiPad" and it lacked a lot of flexibility that I wanted (and cost $12).

What I've done recently is deployed a TWiki/PostgreSQL/Apache solution. Because I'm stuck on a windows machien for a majority of the time where I am, I'm using the Cygwin solution. It eats up virtually no memory (apache consumes perhaps 7mb of RAM). I have a "web" in wiki for me under my name for everythign in the world that is at all related to my personal life. From taxes to contacts to stories about my life and todo lists and random pieces of data. I even have all of my important pdf manuals for various home products uploaded to the wiki database and all of my important software drivers and utilities archived in/on it. Then I have a wiki "web" for my work. So when I want work related things (technical notes, policies, files, resources, links, communications, contacts, todo lists, etc) I click on WORK when I want my personal life I click on ME.

It works pretty damn well and has lots of plugins. It's open source and free, too. TWiki, postgresql, cygwin and apache are all 100% free. Compare that to the closed-standard microsoft solution... I'll take the awesome extendable free one!

TWiki Rules (4, Informative)

n1ywb (555767) | more than 10 years ago | (#8814686)

I'm currently testing TWiki for deployment in my company as an intranet content management system. I evaluated every major Wiki software before I settled on TWiki. The things that sold me where
  • It's written in Perl, one of the few.
  • It DOESN'T require MySQL (I'm a PSQL fan myself.)
  • It has very good revision control support.

Most of the Wiki's I evaluated were written in PHP, which isn't my language of choice, mostly because I'm not familiar with it. Plus I love perl. I also have no experience with MySQL and it's not set up on my server so I didn't wan't to have to deal with that as a requirement for some silly wiki software. Finally it AMAZED me how many wiki applications lack ANY form of revision control. I mean, the wiki concept of openness is great and all, but when some kiddie pastes ascii goatse.cx over all my pages, I want to be able to roll back those revisions!!! TWiki uses good ole' RCS and has good tools for checking out old revisions, diffing different revision, and rolling back to an older revision.

Re:TWiki (1)

kwoff (516741) | more than 10 years ago | (#8816901)

I was tired of keeping my notes in a giant text file though. It was growing to about 1mb and was difficult to deal with.
Did you consider something like, oh, I dunno, separating your notes out into separate files? And when you get ready to go even further outside your comfort zone, try putting the files into separate directories.

Re:TWiki (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8819562)

Sure, it's been tried. But if you can adapt to the format, Wikis are easier to manage, and you can cross link stuff trivially.

Most wikis simply do store stuff in individual files/folders, so the wiki is simply a front end.

I run the most brain dead of wikis, written in perl, running under cygwin, that has its own little simple web server built in to it. Its the one from Cunninghams "Wiki Way" book.

Bone simple to install and setup. It's not as feature rich as others, but it's a private wiki, so I don't need a lot of features.

Simple example of using it as a ToDo list, just put entries into the page that link to the details of the "todo". Then, the details are a click away. When you're done, you simply edit the page and delete it.

Sure there are other Task List manager programs and such, but this is just a great blob of clay that you can mold in many ways, and its simplicity lets you work with it pretty much painlessly.

It is a great "core dump" tool. No files to name, no files to "save", instant cross referencing, searching, etc.

Great unformatted data management system.

Hire someone to customize for your needs. (4, Interesting)

Coventry (3779) | more than 10 years ago | (#8813240)

My company just implemented something like this for a client - feature-wise, I mean. We didn't do LDAP support or calendaring, but most everything else is there. In fact, we had to remove many of the features we wrote because the client decided not to use them - such as the capability for discussions to hang off of a document or a folder within the system.

Anyway, Something like Plone may work for you. If you don't find something canned that seems to do what you want - or you think something like Plone could work with snowmen modifications - look into hiring someone to modify the system you think will work best for you. Most of the systems out there you will look at are free - meanwhile sharepoint isn't. Paying someone to modify OS software to meet your needs may be cheaper than the licensing fees for sharepoint! There is something to be said for integration with all of the MS Office tools - but then again, a move to Open Office (or star office) would be easier to push in your organization if you didn't rely upon MS-Office specific systems in cases such as this. That is a lot of money your company could save down the line that you'd completely write-off with sharepoint - it just wouldn't be an option.

Anyway, consider hiring a consulting firm to do the work for a fee less than the cost of a sharepoint system - you'll get exactly what you need, and not be tied into MS. Many sharepoint systems need customization work performed in order to 'fit' with a company's needs - so down the sharepoint road you could wind up with license fees _and_ development costs.

As for a firm to use - if you have a local favorite you use, give them a buzz. If you don't - which you probably don't, or you would of asked them their opinion already - then consider www.neurokode.com. Of course, I'm biased, I'm a half-owner of :) Then again, we did just do something very similar to this for another client - and code reuse saves you money. Oh, and no, we didn't use Plone - Zope wasn't an option for the client (which was annoying - I love python), so we wrote a custom PHP-mysql system for them, to which we retain the rights. We may open source it at some point - but right now the project is still in the bug-fix warranty period and we're more concerned with the clients needs.

For those who are curious, we used several open-source utilities (via command-line calling behind the scenes from PHP), such as doc2html, to provide automatic conversion of documents into usable and searchable strings for use in a full-text index within mysql. Thus, we gained the ability to search DOC, PDF, XLS and other types of files without requiring the files themselves to be changed. The original files were stored seperately and available for download to authorized users of the site.

Re:Hire someone to customize for your needs. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8813599)

a move to Open Office (or star office) would be easier to push in your organization if you didn't rely upon MS-Office specific systems in cases such as this. That is a lot of money your company could save down the line that you'd completely write-off with sharepoint - it just wouldn't be an option.

We're taking support though. OpenOffice could cease to exist tomorrow or could be discontinued like Red Hat did with their free Linux version. You'll be plain shit out of luck if that happens. I'd recommend sticking with the tried-and-true Microsoft Office components and giving Sharepoint a try in this environment.

There are people out there who would steer you in the direction of so-called LAMPS, or Linux-Apache-MySQL-Perl/PHP, solutions, but in the end you're basically left with some guy's weekend pet project. Do you want to entrust your data to something some guy writes in between playing Halo, drinking beer, and browsing pornography? I don't think so! You will not get fired for choosing the Microsoft solution so I recommend it as the best option. They have decades of experience producing quality enterprise-class software for companies just like yours.

quality enterprise-class troll (2, Funny)

Vryl (31994) | more than 10 years ago | (#8813837)

Do you want to entrust your trolling to some guy writing in between playing Halo, drinking beer, and browsing pornography?

You will not get fired for choosing the Slashdot troll solution so I recommend it as the best option.

Re:Hire someone to customize for your needs. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8813966)

  1. We're taking support though. OpenOffice could cease to exist tomorrow or could be discontinued like Red Hat did with their free Linux version. You'll be plain shit out of luck if that happens. I'd recommend sticking with the tried-and-true Microsoft Office components and giving Sharepoint a try in this environment.

You're so funny! lolololololololol!

Integrate it with your helpdesk (2, Interesting)

unixbob (523657) | more than 10 years ago | (#8813257)

Last year we did some research and looked into the various different helpdesk solutions that are available. Most of them were really expensive but we found Cerberus [cerberusweb.com] for $100. Although it is a ticketing system, it's also got a built in knowledgebase which is searchable on subject, keyword, content, etc. It may not be right for what you need (you don't say why you are implementing a knowledgebase) but it's very handy to have the answers to technical queries available in the same system that the helpdesk uses to record problem.

Revision control (5, Insightful)

jgrahn (181062) | more than 10 years ago | (#8813354)

My main requirement on any such system is simple: revision control. If you cannot see the change history of the things in the system, or compare versions and so on, it's next to useless to me.

Opentext Livelink (5, Informative)

Tux2000 (523259) | more than 10 years ago | (#8813496)

Don't re-invent the wheel. Get a customizable product and an expert that can customize it.

I suggest Livelink. Well, it's not free. It costs money. It may cost lots of money if you want all those nice features. It's not open source. But I have enough Karma to burn. ;-)

Web page: http://www.opentext.com/ [opentext.com]

The consulting company I work for is based on knowledge. Fast, reliable and secure (permisson based) access to archived knowledge is mission critical. So there never was a problem buying the software we need for business, no matter what it costs.

My job is not Livelink. But I work in the same room as our Livelink expert. So I collect a little bit of knowlegde about Livelink. I'm the one he asks for Unix and network tricks.

Livelink has a document management (that's the main part), team rooms, workstreams, and a lot of other nice features. For details, have a look at the web page. Livelink is a core server, extended by a lot of scripts (in a custom language named Oscript), and a tiny CGI that passes requests from the webserver to the core server. If you own a development kit, you can customize nearly every aspect of Livelink, and you can see lots of code written by Opentext. So if you have the money, you can at least see most of the sources.

We use three dual-CPU W2K machines with Apache 1.3.x as Web and application servers, a fourth dual-CPU W2K machine for the indexer and search engine, a Sun 420 running Solaris 9 for the database (Oracle), and Linux Virtual Server [linuxvirtualserver.org] (LVS) as load balancer for the webservers. We have about 1500 users all around the world.

Why so many servers? Most of the time, one web server is completely idle. Opentext would recommend a single server setup, and that would be sufficient. But we have demanding consultants, our problems are response time and availability. We have some queries that block a server for a while. So we need at least two servers. The third server is for load peaks and for downtimes of one of the other servers. Index and search also need a lot of power that would block a single machine, so it's placed on the fourth server.

Why W2K? The most recent version of Livelink requires it.

Why Sun? Oracle on Windows simply sucks, the raw CPU power of the previous multi-CPU x86 database machine was larger than the one of the Sun machine, but Oracle runs much faster on the Sun. (Now all corporate databases are switched to a Oracle/Sun cluster, but that's a different story.)

Why LVS? Simple: It works. We tried a load-balancing software called Resonate, a really fitting name for a piece of software that should implement a control loop. We kicked it because it was hard to maintain and did not work reliably on our machines. We tried LVS on a really old desktop and it worked great, even if we tried really hard to confuse it. Now it has its own x86 server running Slackware [slackware.com] , and we did not have a single second of trouble with it.

Why Apache? We used Netscape Enterprise Server / iPlanet. It had a pretty web-based config tool and much bloat, and it costs money. Apache does the same job for free, and its configuration is a simple text file that can be copied to the various servers. MS IIS has bugs. Lots of bugs. Its mouse controlled. We did not even think about a test system with the IIS.

Tux2000

Re:Opentext Livelink (1)

nicolas.e (715954) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819225)

I'd second this. Livelink is a very cool piece of software, has many features, and works out of the box (sites that don't need load balancing or clustering can be set up in a matter of minutes -- actually 1 hour would be more precise), and is also very flexible and supports large installations.
It supports Sybase, Oracle and MS SQL as backend databases, and any web server would probably work.

Note that if your only need is document management, they have another product called Basis, which is a relational database specifically targeted at document management. It has many features like thesauruses, full-text search, and has a module called webtop which allows to build a well-structured web interface easily (Basis also has a JDBC driver).

Re:Opentext Livelink (1)

Black Perl (12686) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819258)

I agree about LiveLink. I used to work with it and really liked it. Now I am a CMS consultant, and I find myself evaluating all these super-high-priced CMS products, and wishing they had the power and ease-of-use that Livelink had. (and wishing OpenText had expanded into the WCMS market).

Another thing to note: OpenText just works. Out of the box. It doesn't require "implementation consultants," professional services, full-time programmers, etc. Which makes the product stack up pretty well with most alternatives, value wise.

-bp

Why not Share Point??? (2, Interesting)

kill-9-0 (720338) | more than 10 years ago | (#8813497)

Why not go with Share Point? I'm not the world's biggest M$ fan, but this product works fairly well. It integrates well with all your requirements, has pretty wide spread industry use, and uses formats that people use and are familiar with. I understand people wanting to go with open software, but just blindly saying "no" to something simply because it's Microsoft isn't necessarily fair to your employer or clients. I think one of the things MS has done well, is it's Office Suite. If you find a better product that is open source, go ahead and use it, but don't discount a product, "just because" it's Microsoft. Hey, even a stopped clock is right twice a day, so even Microsoft can occassionally do something right. I know this isn't the popular view here on /. but your employer does deserves you looking at all options.

Just my $0.02

because it's risky (4, Insightful)

hak1du (761835) | more than 10 years ago | (#8814659)

Closed source products are risky. Here are some of the risks:
  • Microsoft discontinues the product.
  • Microsoft greatly increasees the price from one year to the next.
  • Microsoft makes it increasingly hard to get your data out and migrate to another product, either because you don't like to pay anymore or because Sharepoint doesn't satisfy your needs anymore.

Yes, implementing an OSS solution is almost certainly costlier and more work in the short run. But it is also almost certainly cheaper and less risky in the long run.

Re:because it's risky (2, Insightful)

kill-9-0 (720338) | more than 10 years ago | (#8815089)

These are all valid points, I don't necessarily agree with them all, but they are valid. My point wasn't "go with Share Point or else", it was "Don't avoid looking at Share Point merely because it is Microsoft". There are advantages and disadvantages to every product, I was only encouraging him to do his employers the justice of investigating ALL solutions.

Re:because it's risky (1)

caseydk (203763) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818158)


A company that I used to be with was implementing this last summer. They ran into some rather large problems...

It requires a very homogeneous enviroment.. namely Windows 2k or Windows XP. It requires use of MS Office exclusively. It requires their backend.

While I use Office pretty extensively and win2k on one of my main boxes, the last thing I would want to do is convert over everything to that. Arg.

Re:because it's risky (1)

kill-9-0 (720338) | more than 10 years ago | (#8836237)

Please read this thread again, I have posted a comment on you response.

Re:because it's risky (1)

prostoalex (308614) | more than 10 years ago | (#8815777)


But it is also almost certainly cheaper and less risky in the long run.

But how much is the long run? If writing, testing, debugging and implementing an open-source solution is going to cover 2 years of Sharepoint license, then yeah, I am all for it.

But if after two years of developing and debugging you still get a half-assed solution capable of, as some people suggested, "providing input in an HTML form", then who cares whether it's open-source or closed-source if it's not usable?

SharePoint is is $5619 [microsoft.com] in retail pricing, you can no doubt get it cheaper from the partners. If your rate for this organization is $56 per hour ask yourself whether you can develop a similar functionality within a 100 hour project. If not, get a Sharepoint license, you're hired to save money with software, not push some petty philosophies.

Re:because it's risky (1)

hak1du (761835) | more than 10 years ago | (#8817695)

SharePoint is is $5619 in retail pricing, you can no doubt get it cheaper from the partners. If your rate for this organization is $56 per hour ask yourself whether you can develop a similar functionality within a 100 hour project. If not, get a Sharepoint license, you're hired to save money with software, not push some petty philosophies.

Did you read anything I wrote? This isn't about the purchase price or "petty philosophies". The initial licensing costs are irrelevant, as are the licensing cost saving you get from open source. What matters is the business risk you accept when you depend on Sharepoint: you have no control over what directions Microsoft takes that product into and if they decide to screw you, you have no substitute.

If writing, testing, debugging and implementing an open-source solution is going to cover 2 years of Sharepoint license, then yeah, I am all for it. But if after two years of developing and debugging you still get a half-assed solution capable of, as some people suggested, "providing input in an HTML form", then who cares whether it's open-source or closed-source if it's not usable?

You don't need to spend 2 years of your own time to write open source alternatives to Sharepoint--they already exist. And even if they didn't exist, you could get together with other people and share the effort.

The open source solutions may or may not be as easy to deploy as Sharepoint and they may or may not work quite as well, but they are probably good enough, and they have none of the risk associated with choosing a proprietary solution. And that's why it is probably a better business decision to pick the open source solution. It has nothing to do with "philosophy".

Re:Why not Share Point??? (1)

GuidoJ (231456) | more than 10 years ago | (#8824297)

One reason: it does properly not support documents that consists of several files without cripling most functionality.

Re:Why not Share Point??? (1)

kill-9-0 (720338) | more than 10 years ago | (#8836233)

I amazes me that seemingly "intelligent" people on here don't actually read the posts before they comment or reply. Everyone that responded to my initial post either didn't read my post, or was incapable of understanding it. There are MANY reasons for not using Share Point, I was saying that one of those reasons against using it should NOT be simply because it's Microsoft. All the arguments people have posted could be legitimate depending on this persons particular situation, but that wasn't my point. He seemed to want to avoid the product simply because of the vendor, I still contend that that is doing his employer an injustice. Please don't post a reply listing another reason against Share Point, I know there are legit ones.

Spec makes no sense (4, Insightful)

salesgeek (263995) | more than 10 years ago | (#8813867)

My advice to you would be: hire someone who knows the right questions to ask before you move forward. The phrase "you don't know what you don't know" applies. Your spec says:

"we want to do some stuff"

it does not say:

* what the problem is (we have stuff in word isn't a real problem)
* who is accessing the information and from where.
* how information from the KB is going to be used.
* What kind of measurement of KB use is needed (eg. tracking what items are used to weight scoring in searches)
* What business systems (i.e. CRM, Accounting, document creation, etc are in place).

There is a ton of off the shelf software that does knowledge management. Not one package I've seen does it the same way. Because this type of software is really a canned set business processes, you need to evaluate what needs to be done from the big picture before you even start looking at packages. Otherwise, you'll get a Rube Goldberg that will not be used by end users.

Re:Spec makes no sense (2, Insightful)

Dr.Dubious DDQ (11968) | more than 10 years ago | (#8815791)

Not just "Yes", but "HELL, YES!".

I've gotten dragged into the middle of a huge mess caused by someone who ran out and shelled out a large wad of money to license a particular software product without even having any clear requirements. And despite all the hassles (and ever spiralling expenses) this is causing, I've STILL got people talking about "Electronic Document Management(tm)" and "Content Management Systems(tm)" and discussing brand names ("What about this Documentum thing? What about this Sharepoint thing?...") without ANY user requirements determined beyond "we want a cool EDM/CMS system"...(Actually, there IS one specific 'problem' that they want to address...but every product they've trotted out with the 'look at all the cool features' brochures are gross overkill for that one problem so far. In fairness, they're thinking ahead towards wanting to make use of EDM features in other areas later...but without anybody clarifying what those areas are or how they will or should be affected, the discussion is pretty meaningless if not downright dangerous.)

Seriously - get the user requirements specification hammered out in reasonable detail before anyone even thinks about 'what cool program to use'!

(Yes, I am quite frustrated, why do you ask?....)

Re:Spec makes no sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8819890)

This has been a well-known problem in the KM world for years. Yeah, there's lots of tools, but the real hard part is getting the business process in place and getting buy-in from the users to actually use the system. (It's too easy to go back to the "old ways" of emailing files and using printed forms.)

Once that happens the user requirements and the product choices become a lot more obvious.

WHY not Sharepoint? (1)

seigniory (89942) | more than 10 years ago | (#8814090)

If you're pushing back on Sharepoint only b/c its a closed source product, you should reevaluate your position.

Sharepoint is VERY easy to use/implement on a base level. The learning curve remains small for users as you add features, and only increases marginally for the admins/developers.

Re:WHY not Sharepoint? (1)

aminorex (141494) | more than 10 years ago | (#8817332)


> Sharepoint is VERY easy to use/implement on a base
> level. The learning curve remains small for users
> as you add features, and only increases marginally
> for the admins/developers.


These are hardly competitive selling points. They are features common to every open-source wiki or content-management system that I've ever used, with the possible exception of TWiki, which frankly sucked.


Being closed source is a good enough reason to disqualify a product from being used in a mission-critical role, since it could fail and be discontinued or be demonstrated to have show-stopping security failures at any time, and the enterprise has no recourse but mission failure.

Sharepoint might be an option (3, Informative)

Slugworth01 (738383) | more than 10 years ago | (#8814092)

As much as I would rather not admit it, Sharepoint isn't all that bad. We use it internally in my group as an alternative to a Livelink-based solution. For us, Sharepoint was free (due to our MS-oriented shop,) and I've heard that it is now included in Windows Server 2003. We're a Windows and MS Office house so we have the servers anyway. The Livelink solution is managed by our corporate IT group and we have to pay extra to set it up for our needs and then pay an allocation to our IT group to use it on a regular basis. We have local control and ownership over our W2K and W2003 servers. I realize not everyone has these kinds of economics but that's the hand we were dealt.

If you already have the MS Office infrastructure, Sharepoint integrates pretty well. MS Office documents in Sharepoint document libraries open in your IE browser and the Sharepoint tools for comments and discussions within documents integrate pretty nicely. You get the option to use a simple change management model.

Sharepoint lets you subscribe to just about any content in the Sharepoint web, giving you email notifications when things change. So for example, you save your draft design document (as a Word document) into a Sharepoint document library and send a request for review to a group of people, subscribe to the document, and when your reviewers make comments in your document, you know about it immediately. Works well.

There is a workflow capability, but you have to set it up in Frontpage. I didn't find this terribly useful or user friendly, but then again, what workflow system is?

All in all, it's at least worth taking a loot at. Granted, it's not free as in beer, and it helps to already be stuck with some MS infrastructure, and it helps to have some FP experience.

To state the obvious, in a perfect world I would be working in an OSS shop and would have experience with something like Zope and could tout it's benefits to you. But that's not the world I work in.

One other non OSS product you might want to look at is Documentum [documentum.com] . I've used this product as well, and if it weren't for some stupid PHB-like reasons, we might be using it instead of Sharepoint. It does the document management thing pretty well, has document management, revision control and workflows. I'd judge it to be more robust than Sharepoint in these areas.

Finally, just to preserve some OSS credibility and not sound like a total MS tool, I'm working on a port one of our applications that currently runs on OpenVMS and HP-UX to Linux to take advantage of the lower TCO and in response to customer requests for a non-proprietary platform solutions.

Re:Sharepoint might be an option (1)

GNU(slash)Nickname (761984) | more than 10 years ago | (#8814869)

You work for a German company with ~450,000 employees, by any chance?

A Word-Enabled Web? Boooo! (1)

robbkidd (154298) | more than 10 years ago | (#8814585)

I'm not much for loading Word to view something that could be displayed or edited in a browser.

This is my complaint about much of the information available at microsoft.com.

"Click here for a whitepaper we intended to put on the web, but couldn't bother producing in HTML."

Plone CMS on Unix (2, Interesting)

morelife (213920) | more than 10 years ago | (#8814885)

I would have been the first to tell you about Plone, but I was in bed and apparently others beat me to it:)

Plone is extremely flexible, and fast to production. I have now tested and have in production many instances, and have developed installation, backup rotation, and restoration scripts. The system virtually runs itself when set up, and users find it very intuitive.. Additionally it has very granular user/group control, allowing you to control who publishes what with very little effort.

Sharepoint might be good or not, but on the reason of licensing costs alone, I would choose Plone. You will pay zero dollars for world class CMS/knowledge base solution.

Plone has bunches of modules (products) and features you may find useful. Trouble ticketing system, news section, RSS feeds and RSS publishing, mailing lists production, galleries, forums for discussion, among others. In addition to many levels of undo so that you can correct any action taken if need be.

Another plus is you can cluster (again at no dollars) instances using Zeo, if you need robustness.

Plone looks professional, clean and slick. Plus it's super customizable. Take a look at csszengarden.com [csszengarden.com] and the various looks on the right, to get an idea of what can be acheived with CSS... and look at zopezen.org [zopezen.org] to see a real simple look that can be acheived on the skin. There's a lot you can do under the hood, or you can just leave it alone. It can easily be administered remotely. And I front end it with Apache and SSL, for a secure access solution.

The Plone community is friendly and responsive, but comprised of some serious Python hackers who probably expect you to come well versed up to a certain level.. Therefore I must second the idea mentioned before of engaging a professional to help you identify your needs now and going forward, and also you capabilities to narrow it down to the right solution for your company.

Grow your own.... (1)

attaboy (689931) | more than 10 years ago | (#8815014)


With all of the requirements you are listing here, it looks like you may just need to grow your own solution, with help from one or two third party tools.

One aid to you in this process is the prevalence of WYSYWIG Html Editors that can be added as an "Input" to a Web page.

Take a look at eWebEditPro from Ektron (ektron.com) for an example. (I don't work for the company, but I do use this app for content management on my company's Web site.) Apps like these give people basic editing capability within a Web app, and you can set this one up to create well-formed XHTML docs straight from a Word cut and paste.

You can use this to interface w/ a Database driven web app that stores content and delivers it in the various formats (XML, etc.) based on your needs.

Oracle Collaboraiton Suite (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8815077)

My company just went through this.

You should check out the Oracle Collaboration Suite [oracle.com] . It's the new rave in collaboration software...everything is stored in an Oracle DB and interfaced through an application written on top of Oracle Application Server. Last time I checked, most every document format imaginable was index-able so the collab suite can run a credentials based search, create a quick html view (like cached documents on google), there's full ability to do check-in/check-out, and ability to create "workflow" processes. The main document interface is done over webdav [webdav.org] ( oss ) and drives can be mapped just like the old days.

Oh yeah, and it is designed to be a replacement for Exchange/Sharepoint...which means email, contacts, calendaring, and the like are all taken care of. The cost varies on size, but for my company it was about 40% that of a full blown MS collaboration solution (hardware, consulting, migration, software).

If you're into spending extra money, Sharepoint is a great product. I evaluated both, but it came down to security, reliability, and cost.

Re:Oracle Collaboraiton Suite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8815109)

and it runs on Linux... :-)

My Smart Channels & PHP Wiki (1)

Doug Dante (22218) | more than 10 years ago | (#8815352)

My Smart Channels [myst-technology.com] is a web based knowledge management system designed to eliminate the overhead of traditional knowledge management applications. Its focus is on creating a secure, easy to use KMS which easilly links with external sources such as web pages, e-mails, etc.

It's free as a demo, or the company will set you up with a dedicated server for a fee. I've only seen and used it as a demo.

For our KMS (in a group of about 14 people), I setup PHPWiki [sourceforge.net] , which given the fact that I'm using the default file system based database, I installed and configured in less than 30 minutes.

PHPWiki is straight hyperlinked text only, but it's useful for archiving those "how-to" e-mails that I send over and over. I just cut-n-paste what I wrote before, and send the text along with a link to the original. However, despite my urging, my teammates keep saying "I'll try it", but they haven't put any content on it.

not OSS, but... (1)

oiarbovnb (728906) | more than 10 years ago | (#8816053)

Custom Lotus Notes DB

There is pretty much nothing you cannot do with Notes. It is definately not open, and if you don't have it as your mail server, or on your system, this solution will not work for you. If, however, your mail system is on Notes, use a custom Lotus Notes DB.

Lotus Notes HomePage [lotus.com]

Domino Redbook Online [ibm.com] Summary Here [ibm.com] .

Good Luck!

Re:not OSS, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8816486)

I've finally found one of the evil people propogating the spread of this piece of shit. Notes sucks soo bad its incredible. You sir should be drug out and shot. Every where I've seen notes its been horrible, why in the hell would anybody install this?

Re:not OSS, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8821240)

Good idea. I work at a large company (in the top 10 of fortune 500). We currently maintain approximately 200 KM applications in Domino with 3 developers, so you do get a lot of bang for your buck as far as deliverables per development hour go.

Remedy Action Request System works really well (1)

loadedgeek (344328) | more than 10 years ago | (#8816447)

I've developed alot of systems like this on Remedy's ARS. While Remedy isnt open source, the application you write on top of it can be. There is a really strong community to share code in, and it greatly improves time to implement and develop your application. Alot of medical institutions use it so you might already have a license laying around. I can provide some sample applications if you like. It goes over well with management since its supported and maintained by Remedy.

www.remedy.com

Tom Eller
tom@remedypro.com

disclaimer: yes this is what I do for a living so I'm biased. But it is a cool product.

Wiki switching... (4, Informative)

Spoing (152917) | more than 10 years ago | (#8816652)

I did some research a few months ago, attempting to get a group to use a Wiki, and one reasonable set of questions that kept on comming up were;

Do our current documents (MS Office) show up in the same basic format -- and can we use similar tools?

If we want to switch from one Wiki or CMS to another, how do we do it?

After some research, I found that for the basics it was simple;

The pages are typically HTML and can be bulk converted.

The formatting could be handled by using a fairly new browser and the 'rich text' edit extentions.

On the down side...

The number of Wikis with 'rich text' support was small.

  1. The setup time for Twiki was excessive and complex; I never got a demo system set up unless I used the exact same base data files as the Twiki site and cut out the data from there. This violates CM procedures, so I couldn't get approval for Twiki.
  2. The setup time for other Wikis was minor, though they tended to have very few of the features Twiki had.

Not all the content could be converted to/from other systems, so there would be some data loss.

Now that I'm on other projects, does anyone have tips/suggestions/resouces even if to say "thems da' breaks"?

I'd love to have something ready to go so that the struggle to get these tools used will not be so great. (If it is 'pretty' that would be a plus, as Twiki's default ugly almost killed it off during the first round of review.)

Wiki which searches MS Office Docs (3, Informative)

arethuza (737069) | more than 10 years ago | (#8823449)

You could have a look at Perspective, an open source Wiki that uses Indexing Service for searching so can search MS Office documents and can be configured for Windows Integrated Authentication. Its early stage but GPL-ed and doesn't require a database (data is held in XML files). Find it at Perspective [high-beyond.com] .

And yeah, I'm the author, so I am biased!

Sitellite 4 (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 10 years ago | (#8823578)

My second recommendation is Sitellite. It is a really nice CMS system which includes versioning out of the box, as well as full search, full granular ACL for both tools and individual pages. It does not have a document file repository as yet though so it isn't the best solution for the question. It does have very user friendly publishing/editing system and is really quite intuitive. It also has a very robust API and the underlying framework is well documented.

Sitellite used to be commercial and was GPLed just this year, it is PHP/MySQL with a Java daemon indexer for search.

Nobody mentioned DSpace (cursory search first) (2, Interesting)

bob_calder (673103) | more than 10 years ago | (#8824530)

from MIT.
Anyway take a gander around. There is:
dspace.mit.edu
and
dspace.org which is their portal, I guess.

Mediawiki (2, Interesting)

nanobug (446693) | more than 10 years ago | (#8828486)

I am surprised that no-one has mentioned Wikipedia's codebase, Mediawiki, which runs on a standard LAMP architecture.

We have installed it at our company and are finding it is perfect for Knowledge Management.

Just some of the features it has are:
- complete revision history of every article
- back links (what links here)
- watchlists
- preferences
- skins
- comprehensive link analysis
- namespaces
- editing assistant (buttons that turn selected text into a link, bold, italics, etc)
- customized pages
- pages inclusions
- many more
- and of course the simplicity and ease of editing that comes with a Wiki.

It has a dynamic mailing list, lots of developers (and hence improvements going on), and a vibrant community behind it.

Once you can convince managers to back it, you can't lose. Suggestion: install it and build it for a while before you show it to management, that way the content helps to show how useful the product is.
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