DOCman 5.0 - the evolution of a legend

After almost a year of concerted effort by the Joomlatools team we're thrilled to announce that DOCman 5 is available to download for general release. If you haven't already, head on over to the downloads area in your Joomlatools dashboard, you'll see that you can download DOCman 5 today.

In this blog post we'll cover all of the new-features and important changes in DOCman 5 that we touched on in back in January. Before we do that, we'd like to take a moment to thank all of our early adopters, without whom real-world testing and bug-fixing would have been a thankless task.

Required Joomla version

It doesn't matter which modern version of Joomla your site uses, whether that's Joomla 3, Joomla 4, or the latest Joomla 5, DOCman 5 is compatible with them all. Developed on Joomlatools' own framework, DOCman provides a consistent set of features across the Joomla versions.

New and improved features

You may have already read January's blog post where we mentioned the new and improved features in DOCman 5, let's go through them one-by-one and you can see what's new.

DOCman's all new flagship content plugin, DOClink, doesn't just let you add links to your documents from within your Joomla site's content. You can also embed a document into your content, if that document is for an audio or video file, then DOCman will transform that file into a HTML5 audio or video player element when you choose to embed it. That's not all, if you have Joomlatools Connect installed you can embed .pdf files as well.


File versioning

When you have different authors of a file, or when you update a file but don't want to lose track of the changes that you've made to it, then DOCman's file versioning system is for you. Enabling it is straight forward, just head over to your Joomla website's DOCman dashboard Administrator > Components > DOCman > Documents then click on Settings. Once in the settings view, toggle the switch for File versioning to Yes then save and close the page, congratulations, you just unlocked a DOCman superpower!


From now on, whenever you access a document's details from your DOCman dashboard you'll see a new tab, next to the description tab, labelled Versions. Clicking on this tab will show you all of the versions of a file that are associated with a document. You can make any one of the versions the active one, the file that your website's users get to view and download, simply by selecting it and clicking the Set as active button. This functionality comes in handy, for instance, when you have a document that you want to update but you're not ready to release the updated file for download, etc.


Joomla custom fields support

Documents have had custom fields in DOCman for quite some time now, they were more a power-user feature than for every day use though. Requiring a bit of PHP coding knowledge and being comfortable to follow our developer guides, power-users could add HTML overrides to DOCman's output and display custom fields for their documents.

It's been nearly six years since custom fields were added to the Joomla core content component, over the years more and more website owners have started using custom fields in their Joomla articles. Now that those website owners and administrators are used to adding custom content fields, many of them and indeed many of our business and agency subscribers' customers started to enquire about adding and displaying custom fields in their DOCman documents' descriptions. Our power-users were able to add them pretty easily, but for others the learning-curve was often too steep for them to implement themselves.

Starting with DOCman 5, you'll find a menu item for Field Groups and another for Fields, just like you do in Joomla's content component, in your DOCman dashboard or by navigating to Administrator > Components > DOCman > Field Groups / Fields. From here, the process is pretty much identical to adding custom fields in the Joomla content component because DOCman uses Joomla's own custom fields component for end-user ease of use.

Learn more about Joomla custom fields.

Once you've added your custom fields, whenever you access a document's details from your DOCman dashboard you'll see a new tab, next to the description tab, labelled Fields. Clicking on this tab will show you all of the ungrouped fields that can be / must be associated with a document. Any field groups that you set up will have their own tab next to the Fields tab.


Now that you've set up your custom fields and added custom field values for your documents, you'll want to display them on your site. As is the case with Joomla's content custom fields, you have a choice of options for displaying the document's custom fields. Where a field gets displayed is set in the field itself in the Options tab's Display options > Automatic display setting, you can choose from:

  • After Title - After the document's title
  • Before Display Content - Before the document's description
  • After Display Content - After the document's description
  • Do not automatically display - The field will not be displayed unless you add it in your document's description using Joomla's built-in fields editor-plugin, or from within a DOCman template override.

Learn more about using custom fields in DOCman.

Combined list layouts

Do you have a few documents but they're in more than one category, do you wish there was a way to display a list of all of the documents without having to click through each category? Don't worry, you're not alone, we got asked about this a lot, so we've added a new combined list setting to the hierarchical list menu item type. Set this to yes, choose all categories from the category selector and boom! you've now got a single list with all of your categories and their documents.


The moment you install DOCman 5 your Joomla website will be super-charged with a sophisticated and powerful, yet incredibly easy to use, documents search-engine. If you're a business or agency subscriber and you've installed your Joomlatools Connect plugin, DOCman will index even the content of your documents so that it becomes searchable too. We completely re-wrote the DOCman front end search-engine's core, doing so allowed us to add powerful search prefixes, which are available via the DOCman search menu item or search module.

There's a new DOCman search menu item type, giving your website's users a powerful filter to search documents from. Once you've installed DOCman 5, you'll also find that a new DOCman search module is available to publish on your site. We've Christened it a smart-module because, unlike even Joomla's own search module, there's no need for you to create a separate menu item in order to display the search results from the DOCman search module, it's completely stand-alone and self-aware to work out whether or not you have created a menu item linking to DOCman search.

Search prefixes aren't a new thing in DOCman, they've been available in the documents dashboard since DOCman 3.3 and they allow for fine tuned filtering. Site owners and administrators found them so useful that we've had a fair few of them ask us to bring them to DOCman's frontend search so that their website users could also use them too.

Here are a few example search terms showing how to use search prefixes:

  • title:lorem - Search only in document titles for documents that have the word lorem in their title.
  • description:ipsum - Search only in descriptions for documents that have the word ipsum in their description.
  • contents:delor - Search only in document contents for documents that have the word delor in their content, if you have Joomlatools Connect enabled.
  • id:123 - Search for the document that has the id 123.
  • title:lorem :and description:ipsum - Search for documents that have the word lorem in the title and the word ipsum in the description.
  • title:lorem :or description:ipsum - Search for documents that have the word lorem in the title or the word ipsum in the description.
  • title:lorem :or description:ipsum :and contents:delor - Search for documents that have the word lorem in the title or the word ipsum in the description and the word delor in the content, if you have Joomlatools Connect enabled.

Of course, you can use any combination of search prefixes, just remember to use the :and and :or keys.


Documents data CVS export

DOCman stores its documents' data in your website's Joomla database, that's great if you're a MySQL whizz and need to create a spreadsheet with the data from the documents on your site, but what if you're not a whizz and you need to create that spreadsheet?

You'll find a new Export button in the toolbar of DOCman's documents dashboard, just select the documents that you want to export the data for and click the button, you'll be prompted to confirm that you want to run the exporter then DOCman will go ahead and generate a .csv file for you, containing permalinks to the documents that can be reused and shared.


Noteable changes

The iteration of a new DOCman version doesn't just mean new bells-and-whistles, we also put great care into stabilising DOCman's core and fine-tuning its existing functionality, after-all that's what makes DOCman the natural choice for building document management capabilities into your website.

One of the first things that you'll notice when you update to DOCman 5 is the improved Admin UI, DOCman's stable-mates LOGman and FILEman got more tightly integrated. If you have either or both installed you'll find that your documents have an Activities tab (LOGMan) and an Attachments tab (FILEman) next to the document's description. This should make it much easier for you to keep an eye on the activities for each document and manage any files that you have added as attachments to a document's description.

You already know how to show the logged in user only the documents that they own, right? DOCman 5 expands this capability and added a new menu item setting so that you can show the logged in user only the categories that they own. While we're talking about categories, we made browsing flat lists a bit more user-friendly, in the flat list view, you can now browse the documents of a specific category by clicking the category link of a document.

As you might have guessed from the work we did to super-power the documents search in DOCman, we've improved documents filtering in more than one place. The DOClink plugin is one such place, now when you're searching for a document from within the DOClink plugin's modal view it doesn't matter which category you're in DOCman will find your documents. An under-the-hood search feature that you might want to know is that DOCman's search terms data is Google Analytics friendly, there's nothing for you to switch on or off, it's friendly by default.

Last but by no means least, we made a few small changes to DOCman's media filetypes displays and players. Image documents displayed in the gallery view now have a built-in slideshow, it's fired-up by clicking the title or the thumbnail of a document. Video file streaming got a bit easier too and you're able to select a poster image to display while the video loads in the background, to do so you just have to select an image for your desired video poster by adding a Featured image to your video document.


Check the changelog to see what's changed since DOCman 4

Upgrading from earlier DOCman versions

Our upgrade guide fills you in on how to upgrade. Curious? Try our demo.

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Supercharge your Joomla document management with DOCman. Go ahead and try DOCman 5 on our demo or download it from our Dashboard. Not yet a member? Get a subscription and start using DOCman today!

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