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.

ASP.Net case management CMS document management legal software

Is it better to extend or rewrite

I have been dealing with this conondrum for sometime now. The problem, well its not really a problem. Lets say that its an opportunity then. I have this opportunity to develop some software for a small legal practise I know of. They are very small, tiny is closer to the description as it consists of a single solicitor and spouse as the unpaid ‘volunteer’ helping out.

This person approached me a while back to come up with a small and cheap system which would provide basic needs of case management. They also want something that can build bundles a lot easier than the very manual process the have now.

So over the past while I have umm’d and ahhh’d over this. Being a software programmer, but mainly in desktop and database applications I have no contact at all with the legal case management area. So do what everyone else in my situation does. I google.

After a lot of looking around, I’ve come to the conclusion that I can either take a CMS and extend it to perform legal case management. Or I can write on from scratch. The latter does sound tempting as tying yourself into an existing framework can hamper some future customisations one wishes to do. Then there is technology, .Net or LAMP? (well there are more choices than that really).

Not being an expert in web technologies I have to decide this without really knowing anything. Who do I ask?  Maybe somebody in LinkedIn knows?

My choices are:

  • CiviCRM and extend it.
  • DotNetNuke and extend
  • Build from scratch on LAMP
  • Build from scratch on ASP.Net

The technology choices are quite open as I’d have to learn ASP.Net or PHP or whatever anyway. Though I’d rather stay away from MySQL and stick with something better like SQL Server and I do like Linq. So one choice made, it must be on ASP.Net!

Then I found this book Pro ASP.NET 4.0 CMS. I started to think. Yeah, all the source, no licences at all. Sounds good. Sounds very good.

Me and gang at Chameeya are gonna give this a go.