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:
– 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.
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.
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.
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.