Open Source Software

OpenSourceHack – The First 100 Days

The first post on this site was on November 4th, 2009 and already I’ve decided to change the theme. I know at times I can be fickle, but there’s more meaning in my decision to start brand new. There are a lot of benefits in selecting the right theme. I’ll share all my reasons for the change in a later post, but for now we’ll just let the bugler play taps while we lay this theme of little over a hundred days to rest.


I first came across  the Phorum software one day when I visited the Sphider site to scour the forums for an answer. I don’t remember if Sphider always had this forum software, but it seemed new to me that day, so I think it was a change for them. It looks like they are running the default green install based on the Phorum demo.

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I also had a look around the admin area demo over at OpenSourceCMS. I think this is pretty decent looking software for someone going for the minimalist approach. It’s a nice change to all the phpBB and vBulletin community bulletin boards out there. Although the default doesn’t do much for me, I do like what the folks over at MySQL have done. The DealNews forums were equally impressive when they were up, but apparently things have changed over there since the forum is no longer reachable. Both of these sites are a testament to Phorum’s ability to handle hundreds of thousands (even millions in the DealNews forums archive) of posts which is quite impressive.

I’m not sure if it’s the Phorum software or the configuring the folks at the Sphider site performed, but I do have one major problem  based on my limited personal experience. Searching is just horrible. Whenever I try to find information over at the Sphider forums, I find the results extremely weak (if I get any at all). It’s been so bad that I once tested it by scrolling through pages and pages of posts until I found one that had the same keyword in both the title and the body of the post. I then went back to the forum index and searched for the keyword in the same forum and got zero results. Unfortunately, the only way to find what I need is to manually scan each page of posts, but who really wants to do that?


I was toying with the idea of adding a place to store documents on another website of mine. What I needed was a piece of software where users could sign up, log in, upload and store documents with various extensions, and then control whether or not other logged in users could view, read, alter, or delete those files.

I found plenty of candidates that would fit my requirements, but most of them seemed to be geared towards collaboration. While this function is nice, it wouldn’t be necessary for me. As long as the collaborative features were optional, I would have no problems.

Even though I had found a number of possible contenders, I kept looking because every one I came across appeared to be unfinished in the design area. I was hoping to find something that looked more polished but I never did. After a couple days of searching it finally struck me why this is the case. The majority of website owners utilizing a document management system will be integrating it into their site design, so giving the framework its own finished look might be a waste.

On the other hand, someone like me would have been happy to have a website document vault look all pretty right from the start, but clearly I’m in the minority here. Sprucing up the look of  it shouldn’t be too bad of a project. I first experienced having to do the very same thing when I realized my search engine built with SmarterSearch was completely bare bones. It’s definitely something I’m willing to try, but it will definitely take longer to get to a state where I’m ready to roll it out.

I finally chose OpenDocMan because it had the few features I required and looked extraordinarily simple. I figure if I’m going to have to start opening files to add some html, I may as well choose a platform that looks fairly simple to navigate. I have yet to install this software so my observations so far are based entirely on the information on the site and the demo. If you want to poke around and try it out, the username and password is “demo” for both.