Web based document sharing
June 1, 2009 8:39 AM   Subscribe

Non-profit group looking for a web based document storage / file sharing system to allow remote offices to share (mainly download) relevant organization documents. Does not have to have check in/check out capabilities. Will need to be able to password protect access so that general public does not have access. Could also use web portal capabilities and wiki like features - a lite CMS, but not required. Have looked at things like Drupal (too complicated to get set up), Alfresco (wayy too expensive!), OWL (couldn't get demo to work). Prefer to host on our own Linux based webserver, and have tech resources for installs etc, but not extensive coding.
posted by dukes909 to Computers & Internet (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If you've got the tech resources for hosting your own webserver, a Drupal install shouldn't be out of technological reach.

What was the Drup install roadblock? I do Drup for a living and could help walk you through it...
posted by unixrat at 8:40 AM on June 1, 2009

I've used phpFileNavigator with success. It's primarily written / documented in Spanish, but the English documentation is decent, too.
posted by GJSchaller at 8:44 AM on June 1, 2009

Response by poster: Thank you for the reply! I've looked at Drupal but do not see a document management system that is built in? Needs to have tree based - folder like access like you see in Windows Explorer. Are there other modules that work better?
posted by dukes909 at 9:04 AM on June 1, 2009

There's an "Enterprise" version but Alfresco Labs is free.

You could also do simply an FTP server with a web-based FTP client; it sounds like your needs are pretty simple. (Or besides that, Windows Explorer itself can connect to an FTP or a WebDAV server, btw. Though you should be conscious of security measures both with FTP as well as any HTTP web-based solution.)
posted by XMLicious at 9:22 AM on June 1, 2009

Response by poster: I think I actually tried Alfresco Labs and it wouldn't install on our hosted server. May have been Tomcat, can't remember.
posted by dukes909 at 9:38 AM on June 1, 2009

And you're sure you don't just want to google-docs it?

You can throw up a joomla install and use user accounts and DocMan to do everything you desire...but...if there's no need for any public face whatsoever, just google docs it, use groups as contacts, and share relevant docs w/ relevant groups.

No need to even sign up for a gooapps account...just do it with existing emails. Of course, gooapps is free for everyone and as an NPO you can get special gravy bonus features, but...

Advantage is shared calenders for off-site folks, etc.
posted by TomMelee at 9:58 AM on June 1, 2009

TomMelee made me think, you can also probably look in the category "Groupware" for the sort of thing you need.
posted by XMLicious at 10:06 AM on June 1, 2009

What about Google apps they have document managment and intranet web capabilities for free http://www.google.com/apps/
posted by tke248 at 10:17 AM on June 1, 2009

Response by poster: Google groups is neat, but limited to 100meg of file space storage. We'll need more than that. And there is not "group" level control of files (i.e. HR, engineering etc.)
posted by dukes909 at 10:24 AM on June 1, 2009

Response by poster: Google Apps has a 50 user limit. We have more employees than that. I don't know that they would all use it, but they might at some point and hate to run into that limit quickly.
posted by dukes909 at 10:27 AM on June 1, 2009

Do you perchance have a Windows Active Directory server where all of these users have accounts? If so Sharepoint might be an option.
posted by XMLicious at 11:17 AM on June 1, 2009

I'm thinking of getting a Pogoplug after reading this review on jkontherun --

Essentially, the Pogoplug takes any standard USB drive and turns it into a web-accessible data cloud. Think of it as being similar to an online data storage service with the exception that you’re not actually putting your data on someone else’s servers; you’re simply providing your own storage, and Pogoplug puts it on the web. It works with either a traditional USB hard drive or with a USB flash drive, so you can plug in those little thumb drives to the Pogoplug. You can also connect multiple drives to a Pogoplug with an inexpensive USB hub. The device is roughly 2.5″ x 4″ by 1.5.”

It sounds simple and you keep control, rather than having it out in the cloud somewhere.
posted by gg at 11:29 AM on June 1, 2009

Response by poster: Sharepoint pricing out of the question and not everyone that connects would be in a AD server. Pogoplug - need user level protection for accessibility rather than one generic account for several users.
posted by dukes909 at 12:16 PM on June 1, 2009

Not Sharepoint Portal or whatever it's called, I think just the free version fits the requirements you've described so far.
posted by XMLicious at 12:34 PM on June 1, 2009

Response by poster: Which is the free version? I think they phased it out with the new 2007 ver.
posted by dukes909 at 1:15 PM on June 1, 2009

Response by poster: Doesn't the Docman plug in for Joomla only work in 1.0 compatibility mode, so it's not really a current version?
posted by dukes909 at 1:34 PM on June 1, 2009

as an npo, you get all the features of paid google apps for free, like more space, users, etc. possibly even user groups.
second, with docman and joomla, you'll have all the functionality you need without a 1.5 install, perfectly safe and secure.

I think that you could do everything you wanted via .htaccess and fairly simple php and mysql to add users to groups
posted by TomMelee at 3:10 PM on June 1, 2009

and display file trees accordingly. I would post the job on rentacoder and you'll get it for $100 or less.

sorry about the double, my phone had a freak out and wouldn't let me edit inline.
posted by TomMelee at 3:16 PM on June 1, 2009

SharePoint Services 3.0 is still listed on their "Editions" page although it's specified as a "component" instead of as a version of the Server product.

...wait, here ya go, here's the chart that compares everything. "Document collaboration" is listed as a feature of Services.

...oh, and they're being tricky bastards. All the download links on that site point to a trial download of SharePoint Portal rather than the real Services download. Here's the real Services download page via Wikipedia.
posted by XMLicious at 1:33 AM on June 2, 2009

Also via Wikipedia here's a way to install Services on Vista instead of Windows Server.
posted by XMLicious at 1:39 AM on June 2, 2009

A late reaction: I've got the same situation with a non-profit I support. For requirements, I also want group-based permissions and I do prefer something that has accountability (tracks who uploaded/changed what). We need to share existing docs (Word, Excel, PDF), not create docs in a CMS online.

I've had OWL in place for about two years. It works, it's fairly feature-rich, but it's not super user-friendly for non-techie users. The UI is cluttered and seems to intimidate people, despite the fact that needed commands are almost always at hand. Simplifying the 'skin' would be a big step forward. Docs can be stored on the web server accessible to the shell account so that auto backups are easy (e.g. rsync). I found setting up its ACLs to be somewhat annoying & more complex than I needed.

I've recently been looking at WebDAV + Subversion auto-versioning [1]. We happen to be hosted at Dreamhost (free for U.S. 501(c)3s) and they provide this as an easy setup through their control panel. Result: a web-based folder that can be mounted on a Windows or Mac desktop, files can be drag/dropped to/from. Password protected. The server automagically does revision-tracking. (Backend files are not shell user accessible, backup has to be done over a webdav connection. Also, no group-based access controls AFAIK.)

I've played with Drupal a bit. Someone who knows it could set up roles + tagging to create the right kind of access control, but then you'd have to implement simulated folders, etc. I haven't seen anything already out there. (Surprising.)

If you're willing to let everyone see everything, Mediawiki may be an option, it's friendly to uploaded files. You can separate permission to edit vs view. Files can be uploaded and linked to in regular pages. Workable for a "top-down" approach where the main office is pushing out docs to people in other offices. Not a solution for me.

Writing this up, I'm wondering whether it's worth putting time into a simplified OWL skin.

[1] Nerdy explanation e.g. here: http://oreilly.com/opensource/excerpts/9780596510336/webdav-and-autoversioning.html
posted by mvd at 10:32 PM on October 3, 2009

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