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freerangemonkey's avatar

Best tools to build a collaborative project site using only open-source Apache/Mysql/PHP tools

Asked by freerangemonkey (353points) January 11th, 2008

I am in the process of building a project site for my current project at work and I need help with the best of breed tools for this site. The site will be used by the project team (about 12 members) for file storage and collaboration.

It need not be designed for heavy traffic but should…
1. Be easy to use
2. Be easy to upload/download multiple files to/from
3. Be easy to tag or categorize files
4. Have the ability to create custom folder structures
5. Use existing open-source CMS or collaboration tools

It would be nice if it…
1. Were easily themeable
2. Based on any combo of the following systems:
-Mambo Open Source
-4Images Gallery
-Coppermine Photo Gallery

It needs to be able to handle uploads of up to 20MB files with unlimited file types.

Please let me know what you think is the best framework to use for this and if you can suggest any similar sites for me to check out or literature to read I would be thankful!

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11 Answers

paulc's avatar

We’ve used Trac for a few projects with success. Its not perfect but it is configurable and you can extend it. Of course its geared very much towards software development and I’m not sure what your project entails. Trac integrates with Subversion quite well too(not sure about other source control solutions).

If you can get your team to do documentation via the Wiki it is really nice – that is if you don’t generate your documentation. I find that a well-maintained Wiki is a great place to store everything about a project and can get new members up to speed quickly. I don’t know if that satisfies your CMS requirement but it did the trick for us.

If its a significantly large project that requires some specific things that you can’t find in an existing solution I don’t believe it is a waste of time to roll your own if you really need to. We threw together a quick Rails app once for a specific set of tracking and documenting and were glad we did later on in the development cycle.

Mokujin's avatar

I’ve had experience with both Joomla and PHP-Nuke. More so with Joomla.

Any of the CMS programs you mentioned are great to use for collaborations. It’s a little difficult to create themes though. You have to know which files to update and use the syntax Joomla uses. Other than that.. it’s a superb system.

Maybe use that and also use a Wiki. That way you can easily update the documentation and let users contribute possibly.

Breefield's avatar

if it were me I’d code it from scratch…PHP straight up

sumul's avatar

I have a lot of experience with both Joomla and Drupal, and I have developed a strong preference for Drupal. With that said, have you looked into Basecamp? Based on your list of software, it doesn’t sound like you’re considering any hosted solutions, but I’ve found Basecamp to be indispensable for project management, collaboration, and even dealing with files.

It’s not free (here’s a pricing chart), but it’s very reasonably priced, and it’s definitely worth it. If the file storage amounts seem insufficient, you can tell it to use your own server’s storage space.

xmen24's avatar

We use Trac and Basecamp

freerangemonkey's avatar

This has all been helpful.

I would like to clarify the following:
1. I am a construction project manager for a design-build real estate developer. I am creating a site for our development, construction, design and consultant team members to store project documents. The team is composed of internal and external members, thus the need for the website. I do realize that I could also use a hosted solution, and I am aware of many of them, but I would prefer not to.
2. I would like the site to be as user-friendly to non-techies as possible. To this end, common file metaphors should be used. I know Drupal has some AJAX-based file management modules available. For some reason, I prefer the look and feel of Joomla. Siteframe looks ugly and underdeveloped, but it comes with the best out of the box file management tools….though there appears to be a bug in the system or I have fouled something up. Wordpress has so man modules, I assume there is something that would suit my needs, but I don’t even know where to begin…
3. The files will be primarily word docs and excel sheets (less than 1MB), CAD files and PDFs (up to 20MB).
4. I have some technical background, but I am not a programmer. I am currently trying to teach myself PHP/MySQL, but I do not want to rely on this for this site. I would rather use off-the-shelf open-source packages if possible.
5. I have installed multiple CMS’ on my server and played with the following: Drupal, Joomla, Siteframe and Wordpress. All of these are interesting and show potential, however none of them work with just the core modules. Therefore, if you are aware of the best-of-breed add-on modules to do what I need, I would love to know about them.

Thanks for your responses so far!

HeNkiSdaBro's avatar

Check out the online services. Go check out, it boasts Trac, subversion, storage space, chat, messaging and loads of other things, might be a good thing for you.

thegodfather's avatar

CakePHP is my recommendation. With this framework you can more customize things than with CMS packages but it also gives you rapid development and scaffolding, etc. Since you are wanting PHP/MySQL, this will be your best bet, better than Symfony or Zend Framework.

You can check out for how to get up and running quickly. Also, let me know and I can email you directly a book I’m writing that gets you running Cake quickly and powerfully.

deathfrombelow's avatar

My recommendation is to go with Drupal, it is one of the better ones, it has an easy instal, comes out of the box with an easy to use and customizable permissions system, and has enough plugins to everything that you want, many of which I believe are already built in. Though if you want something that you can easily fix if something goes wrong, or you want more or different features, making you own, is not a bad option, especially because then you know what is already there and don’t have to worry about people putting info in the wrong places.

project007's avatar

Wordpress with the Wordpress project management plugin (this is a start, there are lots of collaboration plugins such as twitter that can be added)...

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