Seeking Knowledgebase software

I am enthused to install proper knowledgebase software on our intranet. Just in the last week, I have noticed a handful of occasions when having documentation available on an issue would have made an enormous difference. Both we and our users spend a lot of time digging up or trying to remember solutions to particular problems. We have a folder of Word docs on our network, but this is not easy to search, maintain, or send to users, so we don’t use it as often as we should. Other departments besides tech have a lot of interest in this as well. Wouldn’t it be great if facilities, the registrar, and the tech department could all post answers to frequently asked questions in a knowledgebase?

I could meet these objectives with a wide-open wiki or Drupal custom content type, but proper knowledgebase software offers several advantages. It works out of the box. I don’t have the time to configure a custom script or Drupal site for a standard business community tool. It requires little maintenance. I love wikis, but it would take a lot of work to repeatedly shift content around in a wiki as categories grew, and the site required greater organization. Comments, ratings, and “popular” features would be built-in.

At the same time, I am having difficulty finding just the right tool. My project requirements are:
– Must have LDAP authentication (and autocreate accounts for LDAP users)
– Must have access control so that some content may be private to some groups

Desirable features include:
– Free
– Open-source
– Personal bookmarking
– Email to a friend

So far, I have tried three packages.

Owl appears to be a popular choice, but I find the user interface to be wildly unusable, especially at the average user level. I want a tool that everyone may easily search, comment, and make contributions to. Owl supports LDAP but does not auto-create users, which would be a hassle for us — either to modify code to auto-create or import lists periodically.

Owl

KnowledgePublisher seems like a nice compromise between high function and simple form, but it doesn’t support LDAP authentication as far as I can tell.

KnowledgePublisher

KnowledgeTree is the free version of a for-profit product. It has a lovely interface and lots of features, but I am always nervous about a for-profit company pulling development on the free version of a commercial product sometime in the future. Worse, LDAP authentication an error: Cannot use object of type Net_LDAP_Error as array. This would probably be my product of choice if I could get it to work.

KnowledgeTree

Let me know if you have other software recommendations or stories to tell about your knowledgebase experiences!

Update: April 7, 2007

I am going to try phpMyFaq next — it seems extremely well-regarded and fully meets my criteria. There seems to exist a small difference between FAQ and Knowledgebase software. KBs appear to be broader in scope and can serve as a general document repository, whereas FAQs are somewhat more narrowly limited to support-related information — answering questions that people have. While I am often surprised with the secondary uses to which people put existing software, it seems that all of the initial support for this software is support related. At this time, people are happy posting their documents within Moodle, our public web site, or to their private file systems.

8 comments

  1. Vincent Clark says:

    You can try <a href="http://www.baltsoft.com/">General Knowledge Base</a> for free for 30 days. This Knowledge Base software is perfect for schools because for one price, you get unlimited expansion of users and unlimited number of knowledge bases supported by client/server technology. Security is impressive and authorized users can adapt its form, structure and content to their own needs.

  2. Vincent Clark says:

    You can try General Knowledge Base ( http://www.baltsoft.com/ )for free for 30 days. This Knowledge Base software is perfect for schools because for one price, you get unlimited expansion of users and unlimited number of knowledge bases supported by client/server technology. Security is impressive and authorized users can adapt its form, structure and content to their own needs.
    Also you might help contributors with some hints about how URLs and other html coding works.

  3. rkassissieh says:

    Vincent,

    I should have added that the software ought to be web-based.

    Richard

  4. Daniel Chalef says:

    Hi Richard,

    The KnowledgeTree support and engineering teams (and our community members) would be happy to help you out on our forums:

    http://forums.knowledgetree

    As to your discomfort around utilizing commercial open source software: the trend amongst commercial open source vendors is towards releasing more and more of their IP as open source and not the other way around…

    Good luck with your search!

    Regards,
    Daniel
    KnowledgeTree

  5. rkassissieh says:

    Thanks, Daniel! In fact, I posted to both the discussion forums and the bug tracking system this past week and am awaiting replies. I will look forward to the participation of your support and engineering teams in this discussion.

    http://forum.knowledgetree….

    http://support.ktdms.com/br

  6. rkassissieh says:

    Aah! The KnowledgeTree community has not responded to my question! I just installed phpMyFAQ and found out that the LDAP support there is not for authentication! Perhaps it is planned for version 2, but its beta seems a little rough. I am back to the drawing board. Since this is the second time in a week that I have played with a package that lacks LDAP support, it may be time to write my own crude hook into Moodle authentication from there.

  7. Matt says:

    Hi Richard,

    I found your site while also searching for appropriate knowledge base software. I am curious as to whether you have found anything yet?

    I have also tried all the products listed in your post.

  8. rkassissieh says:

    I am currently setting one up using Drupal — see my latest post. Good luck! When I’m done, I’ll try to document the basic steps.