Documentation tools and services

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webfork
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Documentation tools and services

#1 Post by webfork » Fri Sep 18, 2020 8:08 pm

Disclaimer: Probably not a major draw on this site (none of the tools below are portable, only a few are locally installed on your machine) but I wrote this up for a friend of mine and thought maybe it'll be useful for someone else. To be clear, there are LOADS of document management tools out there, but these just happen to be the programs I've had some exposure to.

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Features that are good to have

These are a list of things I really recommend from my own experience:
  • Simultaneous edition - this is problematic for a lot of reasons, especially when you're dealing with a bunch of people who think they can write, but does avoid individual files getting stuck in one person's queue for weeks at a time
  • Tight version control - even tracking edition of a single field can be useful with some groups to avoid overwriting each other and one or more people give up on the toolset in frustration.
  • Integrated comparison - you need to be able to easily compare different versions with each other to see overall differences. Again, this helps track activity, show your work, and back up on changes if something is very wrong.

Tools

Confluence - probably my favorite that I've tested so far. I really like confluence because it gets people to start writing stuff down, it accepts attachments pretty well.

It's not the most organized platform ever and a lot of functions are buried underneath a lot of weird menus and headings that are not intuitive. But it definitely shortens the distance from people having stuff on their computers to start collecting it in one spot. Search tools are reasonably good. I haven't tested their collaborative edition tools.

There are also some good backend services that are fairly smart and capable.

OneDrive / SharePoint - this is the default for most companies as they're already paying for it but we've had a lot of fights with this toolset in the past and I really don't trust it. Search tools are very much focused on Microsoft's own toys and not great with other formats. As with most things with Microsoft, once you go down this path, you're kind of stuck with their decisions, good or bad.

Box.net - it's really just a fancy file preview tool and server with loads of available tools to connect/share, but it doesn't do much else. Their available editor (similar to Dropbox Paper) allows for collaborative edits, but is very self-contained and won't export to other formats, so we avoid it.

Dropbox - the poor communication about expiring links on this service have basically put me off working with it as anything other than a temporary solution.

Wikimedia - (Note that my last serious effort with this was many years ago, so it may have improved a great deal since then.) My efforts with this toolset seem to come together as how we'll come up with an authoritative set of ideas and concepts, similar of course to Wikipedia. Maybe it's meant to bring everyone together, but I've not had good experience here. In particular, you'll want one person to constantly be going through and adding structure, tools, cleanup, etc. That tends to make people feel like you're looking over their shoulder, which is a mixed bad. It does great as an *export* format but it's not easy to import tools into the wiki toolset. So those Word documents that have loads of useful data will stay on some random person's desktop.

OnlyOffice - I'm not thrilled with the interface that this uses, it's like a very dense version of Microsoft Office. I seem to click on three different things to just enable basic formatting. Also, everything is focused on a document format, I didn't see anything for organizing those documents into a cohesive structure or system. The presentation tool is admittedly pretty good, but that's not most groups. Their suggestions of being "fully" Microsoft compatible are not accurate in my testing, and probably not something they can actually do.

I haven't tested this program in a groupware environment, just locally on my machine. More on our topic thread.

Very positive review from PCMag: https://www.pcmag.com/reviews/ascensio- ... onlyoffice

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Feedback welcome.

vevy
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Re: Documentation tools and services

#2 Post by vevy » Mon Sep 21, 2020 4:29 pm

Have you tried one of the tools of https://framasoft.org/en/ ?
I do NOT have other accounts.

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Re: Documentation tools and services

#3 Post by webfork » Thu Oct 01, 2020 6:44 pm

vevy wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 4:29 pm
Have you tried one of the tools of https://framasoft.org/en/ ?
Framasoft sounded familiar and I figured out why: evidently they put together a french language portable software distribution (discussed here viewtopic.php?p=49#p49).

Unfortunately, their home page is unclear to me, so I'm not sure what they do or how that would help with the documentation question. I tried looking up their Wikipedia page to try and decipher what software they're distributing or hosting but it appears to be only partially translated: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Framasoft ... anything else you could point me to here?

vevy
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Re: Documentation tools and services

#4 Post by vevy » Thu Oct 01, 2020 6:53 pm

I haven't checked them in a while, but they are trying to be a libre alternative to Google services. So they do dozens of things, some of which may be relevant to you, especially collaborative editing. See here: https://framasoft.org/en/lite/ under free services.
I do NOT have other accounts.

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