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Intranet 2004: A No-Fuss Intranet Framework

Troy Dreier

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Imagine you're looking to quickly create an intranet for your company. There are plenty of instant-intranet options around, but they all seem to duplicate tools you already have. It's nice that they come with group calendaring and forum tools, but you already have those up and running. What you need is a flexible framework that gives you the basics of document sharing and a way to connect your existing apps. If that describes your situation, look into Intranet 2004.

Scott Postma, the founder and chief technologist for Technical Graffiti, came up with the idea behind Intranet 2004 after consulting for a variety of companies about their intranets. He found that his clients all wanted intranet portals, but bought products that had major redundancies with tools they already owned, such as timesheet systems. He could see that they needed an adaptive framework to hang apps off of, but none existed. So Postma did what any budding entrepreneur would do: he created one himself.

Along with some consultants of his own, Postma took a year to create Intranet 2004. Coded in ASP, the product is fully open code, so that the companies who purchase it can have their own programmers customize it with existing apps (and their designers can customize it with HTML and CSS so that it blends seamlessly with the company's style). Postma says the next version will be coded in .NET, but not this one because he wanted to give more people time to become familiar with the language.

Intranet 2004 is sold online for $1,999. There's no sliding pay scale for larger enterprises, since Postma wanted to keep things simple. He simply priced it as what a seasoned programmer would earn in a week. If you want to try before you buy, download the 30-day free demo.

The download gets you the complete source code, document management tools, and a file upload application, among other things. When you first launch the installer, the product's Get Started Wizard takes over, asking how you'd like to organize your folders and how many users you need to set up. You also set administrative permissions here.

After completing the short wizard, you'll have created an intranet with document-sharing abilities. When your users log on with Internet Explorer, they'll see a list of all the available document folders on the left side of the screen. All users can see all the folders (and all the documents within them), but only users with sharing privileges can add or delete items from the folders. As the administrator, you set privileges on a person-by-person basis. If you want to create a place for higher-level confidential documents, simply use Intranet 2004 to create a second intranet, this one only for corporate execs. There's no limit to how many intranets you can create with your purchased copy.

Intranet 2004 is as easy to use as it is to set up. Users can drag-and-drop documents to add them to folders, something not usually seen in a browser interface.

Intranet 2004 runs under Microsoft Windows 2000 or 2003, and requires that Internet Information Services (IIS) with FTP Server and Indexing Service be activated. Windows 2003 machines will also need to activate ASP.

After logging into Intranet 2004, the user's folders are on the left, with folder actions underneath. Select a document and it shows up in the large central window.

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