Mad, Beautiful Ideas
Document Management Alternative

Last week, I wrote a post about Sharepoint outlining some of the reasons why I felt that developing a reliance on the technology was dangerous, and then lamenting the lack of anything comparable anywhere else.

I still haven’t found anything that brings all the unified community pieces (discussion forums, document shares, blogs, wikis, etc) together under a single application, but the piece of the puzzle that I knew of no alternative for, Online Document Management, apparently has an alternative.

Knowledge Tree is an open source Document Management System which offers all the document management features that Sharepoint has, in a cross-platform, portable container. In fact, anywhere you can an AMP (Apache, MySQL, PHP) setup, you can easily set up Document Management with Knowledge Tree.

Once it’s configured you have the same ability to upload files, read files, check-in/out files, search files, and view differences between versions that Sharepoint offers. And like Sharepoint, you have WebDAV access into the repository. Unfortunately, as of right now, this is a read only access, but I’ve noticed writing to WebDAV with Sharepoint is a little wonky, unless it’s a brand new file.

Knowledge Tree comes with a full stack installer that contains Apache, MySQL, and PHP make it a cinch to drop onto a new server, which is good, because it still depends on pre-PHP5 versions, which will make it hard to run along side other PHP apps. The team is hard at work trying to fix this, but for now, running a virtual server for Knowledge Tree may be the easiest answer.

Despite these inconveniences, based on my test installation on my Mac Mini, Knowledge Tree shines as a document management system, because that is all it was designed to do. Documents are arranged in folders which Users can be assigned permissions to, there is no fussing around with creating ‘sub-sites’ like there is in Sharepoint, creating a new folder is as simple as creating one on your desktop.

Unfortunately, a lot of the more advanced features, like Office Integration and WebDAV extensions are not available in the Open Source project. Still, as a pure DMS, I think Knowledge Tree Open Source is a good project, and I unlike Sharepoint it doesn’t suffer from trying to do too much.

If any of my readers are aware of any other Document Management systems available today that work well across platforms, I’d love to hear about it.