[Linux-aus] Open Source DMS- folder structures

Tim Bowden tim.bowden at westnet.com.au
Fri Aug 20 13:11:13 EST 2010

On Thu, 2010-08-19 at 12:17 +1000, Anestis Kozakis wrote:
> On 18 August 2010 23:48, Daniel Pittman <daniel at rimspace.net> wrote:
> > Tim Bowden <tim.bowden at westnet.com.au> writes:
> >> On Thu, 2010-07-15 at 12:35 +1000, Anestis Kozakis wrote:
> >>>
> >>> Apologies if this is the wrong place to post this, but I am looking
> >>> for an Open Source Document Management System that does not use a
> >>> fodler-based structure for the display of documents.
> >>
> >> Just out of interest, what is the downside you see of using a folder based
> >> structure?  Is that just a particular use case for you, or is there some
> >> philosophical reason not to go that way?
> >
> > Well, not being Anestis I can't answer for him, but I can tell you why
> > I cringe a little bit when "folder structure" is touted as a feature on this
> > sort of tool:
> >
> > I already have a perfectly good tool for creating a folder structure full of
> > files; ext3 and xfs have plenty of history and work fine for that.
> >
> > What I want from a DMS is something that goes beyond: that lets me index and
> > access the documents more sensibly and robustly based on metadata, and to
> > modify that data efficiently.
> >
> > So, when someone tells me how very much like the file system their DMS
> > solution is I wonder why they think that was sufficient, and what value they
> > are going to add.
> >
> > (Usually, the answer is "a web UI to manage permissions", and maybe a little
> >  bit of "email when a file changes", and that is about it.)
> This is the exact reason.  A folder based EDMS will allow for the
> habit of storing different versions of documents in different folders
> exactly like your Desktop or file server.
> A metadata based revision systrem (like TRIM EDMS) allows one version
> fo the document with previous revisions able to access from the
> record.  Permissions can then be applied to the record to limit
> access, or allow global access.
> >        Daniel
> [snip]

I can see the problem you're talking about, though I'm not convinced
removing folders eliminates that problem.  Using metadata tags to index
docs surely won't completely eliminated duplicates?  How tightly do you
need to control the use of tags?  Do you have a pre-configured set that
has to be chosen from?  In a sense a file system is really just a series
of hierarchical  meta-tags with the limitation of only being able to add
one tag per level (unless you use symlinks which would get ugly to
manage anyway).

Another aspect of folders (both good and bad) is that users (mostly)
understand it.  Indeed perhaps rusted on to the idea if Terry's anecdote
is anything to go by.  The upside is you're not trying to teach
something completely alien in one big bang.  The downside is they may
resist moving beyond the "file system" aspect of the DMS.

One of the questions I have about how DMS's work is are the folder
representations just an on the fly creation (RESTful style?) using
metadata tags as we see with some web CMS's?.  Possibly not,
particularly with older DMS apps, but I suspect it's an idea worth

Either way, at some point you've got to present the docs through a file
system interface as that's the lowest common denominator as far as
editing or creation applications go and then you're back to the
duplicate file problem as far as I can see.

I'll start another thread with my full use case as the problem I'm
trying to solve is a bit wider than just a DMS.

Tim Bowden

More information about the linux-aus mailing list