By Michael Caton  |  Posted 2004-05-10 Print this article Print

Companies looking for a tool for building and maintaining a knowledge base of internal- or external-facing information will find that KnowledgeBase.net 4.0 is worth a look.

KnowledgeBase Solutions Inc. began shipping KnowledgeBase.net 4.0 Enterprise Edition earlier this month. The application, which is priced starting at $60,000, combines good workflow and document management tools. In eWEEK Labs tests, KnowledgeBase.net 4.0 Enterprise Edition did an excellent job of managing information and included the necessary features to build complex self-service support applications.

Pricewise, KnowledgeBase.net is an affordable option: Most content management solutions start at two to three times its price. The two APIs used for creating custom portals and integration with existing Microsoft Corp. .Net applications do cost an additional $10,000 each, however. KnowledgeBase Solutions also offers a lower-cost Professional Edition (starting at $4,995) and a $200-per-month hosted version. Both versions increase in cost depending on the number of articles stored in the system.

From a platform-support standpoint, KnowledgeBase.net 4.0 Enterprise Edition is limited, running on only Windows 2000 or Windows Server 2003 or later. It also requires Microsofts SQL Server 2000, Internet Information Services and Indexing Services.

KnowledgeBase.net gives companies a way to create and manage individual knowledge bases by using categories, articles, FAQs, glossaries and a Solutions Builder.

Version 4.0 gives content authors good options for creating new documents or leveraging existing content. For example, we could create content either in an embedded rich-text editor or by uploading Microsoft Word and Excel and Adobe Systems Inc.s Acrobat files to the server.

Document authors can then have Microsoft Office documents appear in native format or convert the content to HTML. Although we liked the convenience of not having to convert documents, we are wary of the way KnowledgeBase.net 4.0 accomplishes the feat—it is done by running a copy of Microsoft Office XP on the server.

We managed the document workflow process through an internal workflow management tool. Its a convenient feature, but we would like to see tighter integration with a notification engine, which would enable us to assign notification options while building a workflow.

In contrast, the solutions builder provides good options for creating decision trees so users can find answers to particular questions. From an article management perspective, we found it relatively easy to create and manage content, particularly when it came to associating other content, such as attachments, with a particular article. Although we liked the simplicity of the management tools, we found we needed to jump around more than wed have liked to ensure users had sufficient rights.

KnowledgeBase.net uses an API to integrate content within a corporate portal. It provides good integration tools for managing the type of content as well as user access to that content. For example, companies can manage FAQ content that may be used for marketing separately from purely technical content.

KnowledgeBase.net supports four access types, which give companies flexible options for building secure internal and external document-centered applications.

Technical Analyst Michael Caton can be reached at michael_caton@ziffdavis.com.

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