Compare XWiki to the Data Management Systems

What is a DMS/ECM software?

Definition and features

Data Management System (DMS) or Enterprise Content Management (ECM) implies a computerized method for organizing and managing information and electronic documents within an organization.
It also signifies the software that allows document management.

In this document, we will focus on the software aspects.

DMS/ECM mainly implement acquisition systems (ie: paper document numerization), indexing, classification, management, storage, data access (navigation and search) and document consultation.

That kind of data management contributes to the implementation of a collaborative work process within the company, as well as to capitalization and information sharing.

DMS/ECM software takes into account the full document life cycle, from its creation/acquisition until its final use and consultation.

This software category features rating, navigation, a search engine allowing to retrieve structured or unstructured data in plain text.

There are four major steps in the electronic management of documents:

  • Acquisition
  • Ranking/classification
  • Storage
  • Distribution

Due to these steps, DMS/ECM software must provide features to perform the tasks.

DMS/ECM software is not only a document repository.
The software must provide some additional features:

  • Scanning document features, coupled or not with a character recognition software
  • Document Import/Export
  • Metadata
  • Indexing (metadata + keywords)
  • Search (structured data / unstructured data (full text))
  • Backup features
  • Access rights
  • Workflow

The most famous DMS/ECM solutions are Sharepoint, Alfresco, KnowledgeTree, Nuxeo and Exoplatform.

Use cases

The software is mostly used to create: 

  • knowledge bases
  • documents libraries
  • documentation
  • store/save documents in electronic version

In addition to these use cases, the DMS has the advantage of allowing to:

  • Centralize and control essential information
  • Secure the information (documents, plans, contracts, ...)
  • Share / access information in real time, wherever you are.

What is XWiki?

What is a wiki?

A wiki is classically presented as a set of alterable web pages by all users with permissions. It allows the collaborative creation of content (including text, images, videos...), as well as the creation of links between different sets of content.

Wikis have been made popular by the famous multilingual Wikipedia encyclopedia (created in 2001) that became one of the most visited websites in the world, with more than 17 million articles (beginning of 2011).

Basic wiki features are:

  • Page creation
  • Page modification: it simply consists in the adding/modification or suppression of content
  • Creation of links between information
  • Discussion: the creation of a page can generate a lot of exchanges between all the contributors
  • Modifications history: it is possible to follow the modifications made on a wiki page (What was modified? By whom? When?)
  • Rollback: it is always possible to rollback and choose the previous version of the wiki page
  • Rights management: each user registered on a wiki has rights that allow to create, modify, consult or delete wiki pages.

But some wikis, such as XWiki, go further by proposing additional features addressing professional needs.

XWiki, a second generation wiki

XWiki distinguishes itself from the other wikis by offering enterprise-oriented features such as:

  • Office documents import (i.e a Word document is transformed to a wiki page; XWiki retains the layout, images contained in the document and also the documents attached to the page)
  • The management of unstructured data (like Wikipedia), but also structured data (forms, spreadsheets...)
  • Export of the data in many formats (PDF, HTML, XAR...)
  • An activity stream allowing an overview of all the wiki activities
  • The customization of the wiki (logo, colors, look and feel of menus)
  • Connection to the Enterprise Directory (data retrieval, SSO...)
  • Fine rights management (by space, page, user groups...)

Other strengths include flexibility and scalability.
XWiki is also a web application development platform.
For example it allows the creation of dedicated/specific applications (Meeting management application, Customer Relationship Management...). Extensions, applications and macros are available for free.

XWiki is an Open Source software developed under the LGPL license.

The XWiki SAS company provides a full range of services including consulting, development, support, training and hosting.

In the Enterprise, a wiki such as XWiki is used most of the time in a private manner for the following needs:

  • Knowledge base
  • Collaborative intranet
  • Documentation
  • Support

Comparison between XWiki and DMS/ECM

Even if we can find similar features and use cases between the two solutions, some differences persist.
First in terms of approach, wikis are focused on "collaboration on the document", while Data Management Systems are more focused on "document sharing".

In terms of document structure: documents are wiki pages that can be exported in several formats (pdf, .doc, etc..) while in a DMS, documents are files (they remain in the original format).

Finally, even if the two solutions considered change the working methods in the professional environment, the XWiki solution is a real Enterprise 2.0 solution, the document actually being a web page with an URL.

Tools strengths and weaknesses

  • Information structuration
  • Import of both electronic and paper documents (XAMBOX)
  • Document sharing features
  • Collaboration around the document
  • Allows to capture knowledge and develop ideas
  • True collaborative platform, extensible and scalable
  • Applications development platform
  • Information structuration
  • Import of both electronic and paper documents
  • Document sharing features
  • Information centralization
  • Need someone to animate the wiki (community manager)
  • Change in the work routines (vs emails and documents repositories)
  • No collaboration around the document
  • Evolution of the working methods but no Enterprise 2.0 revolution

Why use XWiki rather than a DMS?

XWiki's benefits on the DMS usages

One of the main advantages of XWiki over the DMS uses is that XWiki offers a real Enterprise 2.0 solution bringing new ways of working in your company.

In addition to providing sharing documents and information functionalities, XWiki enables collaboration around them.

Moreover, documents are wiki pages. It is not necessary to have the appropriate software files on your computer / or to download documents. A simple web browser allows you to create, view, edit, comment or annotate a document.

You are free to export your wiki page in PDF or DOC format to store your document locally.

Is it possible to make Enterprise Content Management with XWiki?

It is possible to make ECM with XWiki thanks to the following features: 

  • Imports (Word documents and many other formats)
  • Ability to attach files to wiki pages
  • Creation of spaces to organize your files
  • Ability to customize XWiki to create your own entries / menu access to information
  • Search Engine on metadata and text (including the attachments)
  • Sharing features / monitoring / exchange of documents