Evaluate Document Management Solutions

Goal: Choose a solution for managing scanned and digital documents and associated meta-data for a personal-scale document repository.


There are an overwhelming variety of choices available, which based on my (incomplete) experience can be broken down into several major classes:

Ad-hoc CMS

These are often less designed as grown, ad-hoc, by a variety of involved parties. They are:


  • Designed to run on shared hosting
  • Familiar to a wide variety of novice technical types and non-technical creative/administrative types
  • Works for simple sites


  • Lack native support for certain "basic" document management features such as metadata, workflow, ACLs, drafts
  • Lack of architectural planning leads to a mess of third-party add-ons
  • Often administered "through the web" leading to developer headaches, vomiting

Prominent examples include:

Institutional CMS

Designed for use as an institutional knowledge repository for medium-to-large organizations, a well designed ICMS natively supports features such as:


Characteristic Features

  • Versioning/Staging/Drafts
  • Workflow Modeling
  • User-defined meta-data
  • ACLs
  • Image management


  • You are stuck with it, and it may be a giant planet-eating alien of a CMS.
  • Difficult to know if a solution will work until you've invested alot of resources

These I have less experience with. There are HUNDREDS, with similar features on "paper", of which I've tried a few tens.

Roll Your Own

The idea here is to identify your requirements (store files, attach metadata, access through the web), current assets (a versioned content repository using GIT), and then design a minimal solution to fit your needs while minimizing disruption to your process.