Document "management" system (long)

Subject: Document "management" system (long)
From: "Dan Hall" <dhall -at- san-carlos -dot- rms -dot- slb -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2001 14:13:02 -0500

'lo again, all.

Background:

We currently distribute most of our documentation to our internal
audience over the company intranet. The documents are pdfs (and
less frequently HTML documents) that reside on various servers
throughout the US. When a new document is created, information
about it (title, author, category, abstract, location, etc.) is
added to a database manually.

Users access the documentation through a website. The UI is built
using CGI scripting (a roll-your-own solution) that dynamically
builds a table that contains information from the database and
links to the document files (pdfs). Search functionality and
the ability to view only docs from a specific category are also
built in.

More information:

We are currently looking for a commercial solution to automate
this process. Ideally, new submissions would automatically be
added to the database and tracking of publication date, etc.
would also be automated. The solution must be scalable to
multiple thousands of documents.

In addition, it would be helpful if the UI were customizable
per user. We'd like to allow users to have information about
a specific document or category of document - for instance,
RF technicians would be notified of changes to RF hardware
documents. Or perhaps the UI might display a list of documents
authored by the user, or documents scheduled for revision by
the user when he or she logged in.

In a perfect world, the solution would also serve as a
document control tool - but I know that's probably a vain
hope :(

My analogy when trying to explain this to corporate types is
that we're looking for a "web portal for documentation."

We'd rather not have to do this manually. Our current web
programming resources are limited, and we'd like to go straight
to an out-of-the-box solution that can meet most of our needs.
The "home-made" solution we're using now has reached a point
where it is "breaking" on a regular basis.

Questions:

Is there anyone out there who is currently using a commercially
available tool to manage the distribution of documentation?

What have your experiences been?

What were the pitfalls/advantages in implementing the solution.

Any help greatly appreciated.

Dan

Dan Hall
Sr. Technical Writer
SchlumbergerSema RTEMS

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Follow-Ups:

References:
Re: Multilingualism and Technical Writers: From: John Posada

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