Help with DOCman for Joomla 1.0 developers


The DOCman document management extension is a useful and powerful Joomla Add-on. Unfortunately during the period of development for Joomla 1.0 versions it was sometimes let down by inadequate documentation and support information in its forums, leading to large numbers of frustrated users desperately searching the help forums for information on how to configure DOCman so it works.

This article is to assist developers to get up and running with the DOCman 1.3 component for Joomla 1.0.12 and 1.0.13, giving some relatively straightforward hints based on our own discoveries at Channel Digital while implementing the product on client sites.

We should note here that for Joomla 1.5 versions and the latest version of DOCman the situation seems much improved, and DOCman remains one of our preferred extensions.

Joomla and DOCman Versions:

This information refers specifically to use of Joomla 1.0.12 stable release, and DOCman component downloaded in, Version 1.3 RC2.


The assumption is that you have a functional Joomla 1.0.12 installation on a web server, and have installed DOCman 1.3 RC2 using the Joomla Administrator's Component installer. In the administrator module you can now navigate to Components / DOCman, and configure the DOCman component.

CMS and website development by Channel Digital


1. DOCman keeps crashing

A lot of users have an issue with this version of DOCman crashing, and the most usual fix is well documented in some of the DOCman forums. All you have to do is navigate to the DOCman/Joomla php file [\components\com_docman\themes\default\themeconfig.php]. Edit the file and look for the line: "var $details_homepage = "1"; You will see there are two versions of this line, and one of these must be deleted or commented. This usually solves the problem.

2. I can't start using the DOCman component

In the DOCman Manager in the Joomla Administrator module you should create one DOCman category, upload one file (often a PDF document from your hard drive), and using that file create one DOCman 'document'. This is all the content you need to get started.

Now you need to add the component item to your menu. In the Joomla Administrator backend go to Menu, pick a menu - probably mainmenu, list the items in that menu. Select New to create a new menu item. Select 'Component' on the top right of the first screen, and DocMan in the components list of the second. Save the menu item, and from you main menu you should now be able to navigate to the DocMan component, and see your documents available for download.

3. Want to view the DOCman document thumbnail image instead of the PDF icon

By default DOCman allows you to display an icon by each document. However when you set up a document you have already added an image thumbnail, which might be a JPEG of the first page of your document, for example. It seems a great waste to have set up a document thumbnail, and then not use it in the list. If you want to have this image displayed instead of the PDF icon, you can do a quick dirty hack to the DOCman/Joomla code to display the thumbnail.

The file to edit is:


The lines to change are in CASE 1 of the switch statement (looks like it should be using Case 2 but you can look into that). You need to change the code to:

if ( $this->doc->data->dmthumbnail ) { /* Altered by Channel Digital Limited to display document thumbnail image*/ ?><img src="/<?php echo $this->doc->paths->thumb ?>" width="100" height="130" border="0" alt="

All we did here was manually set the size of the thumbnail required using the width and height attributes of the image in the code.

We haven't bothered to make this configurable, that task can be for someone else.

You may also want to look in the DOCman config files like:


to find a cleaner way of making this change although this fix works well enough. 

4. DOCman file and directory permissions

When DOCan gets installed it often creates problems with file and directory permissions.

You will need to make several directories writable to allow DOCman to function properly. The most important is the dmdocuments directory itself, for which you should change the permissions to 777, or something similar, at least during the development phase. Some recommend 707, but I doubt it makes any difference.

Sometimes DOCman actually locks file permissions so they cannot be changed. A couple of work rounds for this are:

  • Ask your hosting provider to sort out the permissions problem. One person in the forums got around it this way.
  • Another is to rename the offending DOCman directories to something else, FTP them back to your local PC, set the permissions there to writable, and FTP them back to the original directory names in your Joomla installation.

Not enough of an APACHE / Linux / FTP guru to know exactly what this is about, but its something to do with setting the owner of the files. The main problem with this approach is that you end up with the old Docman files remaining in your installation, taking up space for ever.

This item came from the DOCman help forums, and I'm simply relating it here for your reference.

5. DOCman and OpenSEF Joomla extensions

We use OpenSEF with all our projects, and initially I thought there was a problem with DOCman and OpenSEF. However, once these changes were made DOCman and OpenSEF seem to have worked well together. The principal problem was the link breaking from DOCman pages to the 'Documents Home' page and displaying the message: 'You don't have permissions to view this page'. This was fixed by putting the DOCman component link on the main menu (Item 2 above).

That's all folks

OK that's all we have so far. Frankly the documentation and support of DOCman is a joke, but the component is quite useful, and these three little tips made it quite workable for us. Good luck, and please link to this page if you think it will help others. I know this should go on a Joomla Forum at some point, and at some point we'll get around to it.


If you would like the assistance of Channel Digital with the design, development of a Joomla or other web CMS system, databases and software, please contact Channel Digital using our enquiry form.

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