case management CMS DM DMS document management LCM legal software nuxeo umbraco

Comparing CMSs is very hard to do

I have a requirement from my wife to build a case management system for her with a bundling capability. Now rather than start from scratch, which is tempting, I would look into what’s available now.

There are legal case management systems around, though far too expensive for a small operation like my wife’s. I did find one that was free (yay!) but development had stopped on it. None the less, no reason I couldn’t have a look and try it out and use it as a template. The LCM from these guys. free for non-profit and NGO’s and recommends using CiviCRM. But having tried CiviCRM I’m not sure that I agree. CiviCRM will need customisation before it can do all of what LCM can do.

Then I started looking at other platforms to build or modify a solution on. I looked at Dot Net Nuke. This is a highly popular solution built on .Net, but after reading through the experiences of application developers it does seem to be difficult to extend. So I have crossed it off my list. Next came Umbraco and mojoPortal. This looks highly promising. Both are light and put almost zero constraints on controls and layouts, which is perfect really. Both are using (or will soon use) the ASP.Net MVC model which is another winner. And both use SQL Server which I am highly skilled.

Another choice will will work on all platforms is Nuxeo DM. This is a enterprise CM tool which runs on Java is highly standards compliant. Full open source and nothing is held back, unlike Alfresco or KnowledgeTree. This is a great product but is perhaps overkill for what she needs.

My conclusion is that it is a race between Umbraco and mojoPortal. And one that I think Umbraco might just win. But the race ain’t over till the fat lady sings. I am terrible the guys at chameeya will be throwing paper balls at me now.

Alfresco CMS DMS Plone Sharepoint

Is it a CMS or is it a DMS

Since my last post where I mentioned that I am looking in the document management field I began to explore other thoughts. Specifically, whether small businesses could use a beefed up CMS (Content Management System) rather than a full blown DMS (Document you guess the rest).

Its my thought that certain systems like Drupal, Plone, dotCMS that have document management modules and collaboration and extension facilities could be used as poor man’s document management system. It wouldn’t have all the bells a whistles like digital signatures, records management with proper archival and other facilities in most of these systems. But, hopefully, such systems could be upgraded to a full DMS if needed. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

There’s always the big bully boy Sharepoint. The WSS seems very bare-bones but right off the bat it makes for very simple document storage. The only hitch being that everything needs to be written in .Net and it requires specialized hosting. I’m going to concentrate on Sharepoint but only so far as application construction is concerned. I reckon that any company well off enough to afford sharepoint and the licencing can afford their own IT department to support it. I’ll be investigating Sharepoint more as time goes on. I’ll be playing with from the point of a small application which I feel is much needed for legal firms. At least it will fill my time while I wait for my next job.

There are the Open Source alternatives – some would call them preferatives (is that a word?). Nuexo, Alfresco, Knowledge Tree – the ECM systems. Built from the ground up a collaborative document management systems. I like these systems, but in terms of price and features. Any of these can be had for free. My company model would be install and support these system on my own with my own support contract with my clients. I would, of course, build in my own bits to hand to my clients only. Oh the wonder of the GPL.

I’m continueing to ponder this. I’m sure after watching some demos I’ll get convinced one way or the other. I do notice that it is a lot simpler to host PHP and MySQL based products than Zope (Plone) or Java products. Should I care if the system will be hosted on the client’s own machines or on a dedicated server? hmmmm….