On the Joomla Extensions Directory, every category has 5 or 10 alternatives you can choose from. That’s a benefit, but it can also make things more difficult. How to pick the right one? For me, it’s always about flexibility, security, and support.
Long before I started Joomlatools with Johan, I was building websites for customers. Remository and DOCman were the only choices back then. My customers asked for features that neither provided. But I looked at the code, and even though I was a pretty inexperienced developer back then, DOCman’s code made sense. It wasn’t long before I started making addons for DOCman to satisfy my customer’s requirements. Some of those addons are still around: Autopopulate, AutoThumb… When I later became lead developer, adding even more ways to extend DOCman has always been my priority over adding features. Adding a feature is like giving someone a fish, adding flexibility is giving them a fishing pole.
When open source software is used by many people, bugs and vulnerabilities get discovered more rapidly (Linus’ Law). Despite the fact that DOCman is one of the most popular extensions for Joomla (and has been for years), it’s been a very long time since any noteworthy vulnerability was discovered. Building a Joomla extension is easy. Building one that can resist hacking attempts is something that requires your full attention.
Finally, yes we started charging for DOCman recently. We realize that even though the price is only that of a lunch and a coffee, it might cause many people to switch to other solutions. But you get a lot for this money: We can now focus on DOCman, instead of always pushing it to the bottom of the todo list. You can see it in the speed and quality of replies to support questions in the forum: in fact we hired Krisstoffer, who used to be a voluntarily moderator on our forum, so we are now paying him to help people. You can also see it in the development: we released the 1.5.1 update only a week after releasing 1.5.0, whereas before, releases took us 6 months or more.
(Update: We just added a brand new support portal to serve DOCman users even better!)
In the end you have to decide for yourself what suits you. With it’s ACL’s, nested categories, theming etc, DOCman is very feature-rich choice, for a very competitive price. But be aware that features and price are not the only things that can make software great.