Open Source Intranet Software Tools

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Open Source Intranet Software Tools

See also | Intranets on the KS Toolkit

Introduction

Does anyone have experience with open source intranet applications? We are looking at Microsoft SharePoint, but would like comparison with open source equivalents. Wouter Rijneveld

Organizations are finding they want a central "home on the web" for internal and/or external use. Sometimes called a portal, an intranet, these "homes" are often built on a platform that brings together a variety of tools and functions. These tools are called portals, content management systems and even collaboration platforms. Tools are offered by commercial software providers and by the open source software community.

Keywords

Open_Source software portal collaboration tools CMS Content_management_systems

Detailed Description

[the meat of the topic – clearly, crisply communicated summary of the topic. Where relevant, a brief story – no more than 1-2 paragraphs - of how this topic has been turned into practice, ideally from the KM4Dev archives? If the example is long, separate into a separate subsection]

Current Open Source Intranet Platforms

KM4Dev Discussions

[Summary of the discussions on the KM4Dev list which provided source material. People who contributed to the discussions are cited at the end of the section in italics: "The following members of the KM4Dev community contributed to the discussion thread on ...: XY (launched the discussion), ...]

  • What are the current Open Source intranet products?
  • Why Open Source vs propriatary - pros and cons
  • What are the technological infrastructure issues (server environment, security, etc.)?
  • How do you evaluate and choose an intranet platform?
  • Examples in use

Examples in Application

Right now there are a bunch of examples in the notes below that need to be pulled up here. Some great examples offered by community members!

Examples of OS Software in Use

  • NetSquared.org
  • http://oxfam.org.uk/ploneability Zope/Plone at Oxfam
  • I have been using Mambo Open Source CMS for a Humanitarian Organisation. I am very satisfied with it and with its administration. Beside the core module, you can have add-ons that cover many of the things that you might need: Forums, Document management, multi-language support, advanced registration, emailing lists, different templates, Blogs, wikis, etc. It has also many languages already supported and a very active community of users. Check their website: http://www.mamboserver.com Hani Eskandar Knowledge and Information Management Senior Officer Sphere Project www.sphereproject.org

Examples of Propriatary Software in Use

  • SharePoint case study on Christian Aid here
  • here on Microsoft.com

Related FAQs

[Insert links to related FAQs]

Further Information

[A set of resources to find out more, including key texts, websites and KM4Dev folk (not consultants!). No more than 3-7 sources…] (see my article on "Free stuff in a commercial world" at: http://fm.schmoller.net/2006/05/free_stuff_in_a.html) will address all those issues.

Article on how to think about a content management system [1]

Visual images of planning a content management system

Alternative "CMS" applications - http://www.oscom.org/ http://www.oscom.org/matrix/ (a comparison of sorts)


check this website that gives a quick overview of what other Content Management Systems available: http://www.opensourcecms.com

http://www.nngroup.com/reports/intranet/design/ " This report reviews the designs and usability of ten intranets that were chosen from a much larger number of nominated designs. The report is richly illustrated with 193 screenshots, giving readers the unique opportunity to see good intranet designs that are usually hidden behind a firewall."

Original Author and Subsequent Contributors of this FAQ

Nancy White collected posts

[Mention name(s) of author and subsequent contributors]

Dates of First Creation and Further Revisions

7 June 2006

FAQ KM4Dev Source Materials

Mark Berthelemy Systems that I've used successfully in intranet contexts include:

Moodle (http://moodle.org) Elgg (http://elgg.org) Etomite (http://www.etomite.org.uk) PhpCollab (http://www.php-collab.org)

Much depends on what you want to do with it... What sort of interactions and collaborations are you wanting to encourage? How structured do you wish the intranet to be? What workflow are you wanting to build into the creation of content?

I'm also exploring Drupal (www.drupal.org) which looks as if it will cover most of the bases required of an intranet... But it's significantly more complex than the ones I've listed above.

Steven Buckley Christian Aid, London

We'd be happy to talk through our own SharePoint deployment here at Christian Aid in the UK. We have a 600 user solution working over something like 35 locations in 8 countries.

My view is that SharePoint is much more than a regular intranet. You're actually getting a fairly comprehensive document management system, search engine, and portal. If you then combine that with the various security and connectivity issues arising from a multi-site operation, it's hard to see what if any open source products can compete.

If you move, as we have, to SharePoint being the *only* document repository for all staff in your organisation there are then scaling and reliability issues that open source would struggle to compete with.

Given the preferential MS select pricing for NGO's and charities, I think SharePoint is a pragmatic approach to take - particularly when you consider the on-costs of user training, ongoing maintenance and system support.

More on our SharePoint choice on this blog (3rd or 4th article down from memory)- http://nightingalesangatwcc.typepad.com/tajikistan

SharePoint case study on Christian Aid here - http://www.silversands.co.uk/public/record.asp?MenuID=CaseStudiesRecords &PageID=CaseStudies&RecordID=15

and here on Microsoft.com https://members.microsoft.com/customerevidence/search/EvidenceDetails.as px?EvidenceID=13398&LanguageID=1&PFT=Microsoft%20Office%20SharePoint%20P ortal%20Server%202003&TaxID=19904

Hi Steven,

I agree, Sharepoint is a very good application. If you are looking for sophisticated document management, then there aren't, at the moment, open source solutions that can compete with it, or systems like Documentum.

You are right to raise issues like security, scaling, reliability, user training, ongoing maintenance and system support. However, I don't think you can necessarily say that open-source software (as a whole) is poor on these factors. Yes, a lot of open source software is designed by hobbyists just wanting to meet an immediate need, but those that have a good "business model" behind them (see my article on "Free stuff in a commercial world" at: http://fm.schmoller.net/2006/05/free_stuff_in_a.html) will address all those issues.

Take Moodle as one example: It must be scalable if the UK Open University are using it with over 50,000 students. Its reliability has been proven through the massive take-up across the world. User training, maintenance & support are provided by the accredited network of Moodle Partners (http://moodle.com/partners/) - and in fact you can afford to spend more on training etc since there are no licence fees to pay.

I don't want to knock the software providers who need to charge a licence fee. The open source model works best for software that is "generic" and will have a large potential user base requiring the paid-for services. Without that user-base a licence-based model is necessary in order to fund development.

All the best,

Mark


Mark Berthelemy Learning Solutions Architect Capita Learning & Development

Hi Dan,

>A key need is to create separate virtual spaces for specific project teams while also providing communication and knowledge sharing between all projects and their members in a shared space. That's exactly how we've used Moodle for our team intranet. We set up different project areas within which we can have forums, wikis, and content. Some areas are closed, using enrolment keys, so only known people can access them, whilst some are open for the whole team to join.

We have the site sitting on an internet-facing server, which also allows us to use it as a client communication tool.

Although I've not done it on this particular site (but have on others), you can change the language pack used within Moodle so that it moves it away from a course/teacher/student model. However, if you need to use multiple languages within your community you would need to make sure you maintain the language packs for all the languages you use.

Regards,

Mark

Hi,

At Oxfam we are implementing our Intranet in an enterprise version of the Zope/Plone open source CMS (content management system). This is a fully scalable, multi-lingual solution that supports publishing to multiple sites (public sites and intranets) from a single content repository. It also supports on-line collaborative working.

For more information please see the presentations from a recent 'Plonability' event attended by 65 people from various NGOs interested in Zope/PLone. There is also a link to join the NGO Plone mailing list from the site.

http://oxfam.org.uk/ploneability

Thanks Romilly

Systems Architecture Manager Oxfam GB


This is a timely question as I am just at the outset of assisting an international non-profit organization to develop an intranet. We are piloting Moodle on a very small scale. Mark, could you share some examples (or describe) how you set up the systems that you mentioned (especially Moodle) for use as an intranet? A key need is to create separate virtual spaces for specific project teams while also providing communication and knowledge sharing between all projects and their members in a shared space.

Dan Balzer

what sort of things would you be doing on your intranet? will it be an internal "portal" of some sort? I'm not sure there's many opensource alternatives to the "one application that does everything" approach of sharepoint, but you might want to take a look at some of these alternative "CMS" applications here:

http://www.oscom.org/ http://www.oscom.org/matrix/ (a comparison of sorts)

most of these run on linux, bsd, or windows. i've never maintained a sharepoint server but the application is really great for windows only server environments where you are offering "turnkey" services for clients (like at an ISP). In my own experience Zope with a CMS add-on is truly excellent.

http://www.zope.org/ http://www.zope.org/Products/Zope/2.9.3 Plone http://plone.org/ or Nuxeo http://www.cps-project.org/

sometimes what people want to do is pretty simple: shared directories, indexing/searching etc. - and is pretty much doable "out of the box" with a standard windows or unix system: apache/lhttpd/iis web server with ftp/ssh/DAV for uploads ...

cheers

Graham Todd


At 02:23 PM 6/7/2006, you wrote: > Does anyone have experience with open source intranet applications?

I've been using Moodle for a couple of projects, not really a portal. It's underlying construct is as a teaching platform. You can bend it to other uses, but I find I keep running into that "teacher" "course" thing -- and it challenges me. We'll be doing a write up in July with our final overview. If you can remind me in July, we can pull out identifiers and share it here.

I participate in a couple of portals based on Drupal. I was not a Drupal fan in the past, but I'm becoming a convert as communities have figured out useful ways of deploying it. Check out http://www.netsquared.org

I am a member of a plone-based group but we are using a much older version of the software and I'm not a huge fan.

There is also Mambo and Joomla in addition to the others already mentioned. I have not worked with those, but there are enthusiasts for each of them.

That said, the question about what your group needs to do - what activities the portal needs to support, should come before you start picking the tool. For example, do you need to:

  • share documents (and do they need to be categorized, tagged, searchable within docs?)
  • have discussions (types, about?)
  • have a member directory so people can find each other
  • have an integrated email list to blend web/email
  • have wikis to support collaborative editing
  • have blogs to allow easy individual publishing
  • have polling to gain info or make decisions
  • have subgroups to do task work

I've started a wiki page where we can gather this information here: http://www.km4dev.org/wiki/index.php/Open_Source_Intranet_Software_Tools

(Just a cut/paste job at this point. Feel like making it better? Get an account and log in!)

Nancy

Dear Wouter,

I have been using Mambo Open Source CMS for a Humanitarian Organisation. I am very satisfied with it and with its administration. Beside the core module, you can have add-ons that cover many of the things that you might need: Forums, Document management, multi-language support, advanced registration, emailing lists, different templates, Blogs, wikis, etc. It has also many languages already supported and a very active community of users. Check their website: www.mamboserver.com

Also I would recommend you to check this website that gives a quick overview of what other Content Management Systems available: http://www.opensourcecms.com

Best regads,

Hani Eskandar Knowledge and Information Management Senior Officer Sphere Project www.sphereproject.org

Hello,

the successor of Mambo is Joomla http://www.joomla.org/.

"Joomla! is one of the most powerful Open Source Content Management Systems on the planet. It is used all over the world for everything from simple websites to complex corporate applications. Joomla! is easy to install, simple to manage, and reliable." Regards, Boris


following the same thought. anyone ever heard about the following study http://www.nngroup.com/reports/intranet/design/ " This report reviews the designs and usability of ten intranets that were chosen from a much larger number of nominated designs. The report is richly illustrated with 193 screenshots, giving readers the unique opportunity to see good intranet designs that are usually hidden behind a firewall." cheers from rome, geraud servin . FAO