While document management software (DMS) is often used as a standalone program for businesses and other organizations, a more streamlined use of DMS often involves integration with business software applications that are used regularly as essential elements of businesses, including email and productivity programs like Microsoft Outlook and the Microsoft Office Suite, accounting programs such as QuickBooks and Freshbooks, and CRM (customer relationship management) programs such as Salesforce and InfusionSoft.
Most open-source and proprietary DMS systems use one or more of several available open standards to facilitate communication between themselves and external applications. These standards and protocols were created specifically to allow interaction between programs that require interchange of documents or other types of data. The most commonly used open standards include the following:
- LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol): This vendor-neutral communication standard is designed to allow applications to share directory-level information. LDAP is frequently used to implement a single sign-on feature that shares login information between services. KnowledgeTree’s DMS tool includes an LDAP integration component.
- ODMA (Open Document Management API): This API was created in 1994 to simplify interoperability of standard desktop applications with document management software. OpenOffice, the Apache productivity suite, has a built in ODMA Content Provider (OCP) that integrates a DMS document structure within each of the OpenOffice applications. ACS Software, DMS built specifically for storing engineering files, is an example of DMS that supports ODMA.
- SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol): This protocol defines how HTTP headers can be encoded with an XML file so that programs can communicate with each other independent of which operating system they run on. Treeno Software’s DMS product has a web services API that makes use of SOAP for data integration.
- REST (Representational State Transfer): This API architecture lends itself very conveniently to sharing hypermedia (which includes various forms of media, such as files, text, graphics, video, and more) between applications. The capabilities of REST in regards to performance and scalability make it one of the most popular DMS integration standards. eFileCabinet’s API for its Cloud-based DMS consists of a set of REST document management functions that can be executed from any program, regardless of what programming language is used.
- WebDAV (Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning): The WebDAV protocol is an extension of HTTP and serves as a framework for performing distributed document authoring. SeedDMS, an open-source document management solution, provides WebDAV access for its software.
These open standards are well represented among the hundreds of document management systems available, including both open source and proprietary versions. Organizations that create document management systems normally advertise their support for integration standards on their websites or in their support documentation.
In addition to these web-based standards, many DMS applications have platform-specific integration tools. For instance, Windows-based desktop DMS can often integrate with other programs through the use of Windows Component Object Model (COM) functions or Software Development Kits (SDKs) that can be registered with the operating system using DLLs (Dynamically Linked Libraries). To find out whether a DMS system has support for desktop integration, check their documentation or contact their technical support.