Hosting for Niche Software and Apps
The wonderful thing about the internet is that it has everything — if there is some type of software you need, chances are you're not the first one to look for it.
You may find that an entrepreneurial individual has already recognized that need and met it by creating just the software you're looking for.
Demand Varies Between Software Categories
Of course, some software categories offer many software options. For example, blogs are very popular, so there are a lot of blogging tools.
Every website uses a content management system, so there are a lot of content management systems from which you can choose.
However, not every type of application is so in demand that there are dozens of competing projects from which you can choose.
Niche Software Options
Even so, the most unusual requirements have attracted development teams willing to craft niche software products.
In the following sections, we will cover some niche software options that you might find interesting.
If there is currently a pain point in your life that could be fixed with the appropriate software selection, read on for some possible options!
We take a brief look at niche web applications on this page. Be sure to check out our more detailed coverage here.
Now let's take a look at some examples of niche software.
Noah's Classifieds was originally an open-source web application written in PHP. Users could use it to create a classified ads website similar to Craigslist.org.
At one point, Noah's Classified was relaunched as a commercial product offering both cloud and self-hosted versions.
There was also a free version available for use.
Digital Marketplace and Support
Since then, Noah's Classifieds has been acquired by Yclas, which bills its product as the easiest way to create a digital marketplace.
Yclas allows someone with little to no knowledge of web design to create a classifieds website in just minutes.
For Noah's Classified users affected by the acquisition, Yclas offered a free migration tool.
However, users could choose to remain on the existing Noah's Classified platform, though they would not receive technical support for Yclas if they chose this option.
SHOUTcast is a complete tool for managing an online radio station.
SHOUTcast provides a total solution for streaming live or pre-recorded audio.
It also provides a platform for sharing and discovering internet radio stations, as well as a robust API for integrating their service with third-party delivery services like Roku.
Audio/Video Content Types and Monetization
While SHOUTcast remains a platform primarily for audio content, it does support video content as well.
This is a selling point for those looking to venture into video.
Finally, for those who seek to monetize their radio stations, SHOUTcast offers the features and functionality you need to do this.
WWW Paint Board
WWW Paint Board is a web application (currently defunct) that allowed users to draw vector graphics dynamically in a browser-based GUI.
In addition to its dynamic drawing capabilities, WWW Paint Board possessed primitive social features, such as commenting, user voting, and the like.
WWW Paint Board is still available for download, but it has not been under active development since 2005, and it is likely not fully compatible with modern browser technology.
Dolibarr provides a complete, open source solution to enterprise business management, and it includes the features and functionality you need to:
- Create project proposals
- Track projects
- Manage your customer relationships
- Manage your orders and inventory
- Create invoices
Dolibarr also has an integrated mobile app that you can use on the go.
Dolibarr is modular, so if there are features that you need (but do not ship with the default installation), you can add the appropriate modules.
You can be hosted on one's own server, or users can purchase a hosted SaaS (software as a service) plan.
You can host Dolibarr on your own servers, or you can purchase a hosted SaaS (software-as-a-service) plan to outsource the need to manage any of the required infrastructures.
DotNetInvoice is a simple billing and invoicing system aimed at small business.
DotNetInvoice is an ASP.NET application that runs on the .NET platform.
Features and Perks
DotNetInvoice's interface is web-based and easy to use, especially for those less familiar with technology (DotNetInvoice boasts that you're just "three minutes to you first invoice").
Its features include:
- Email invoices
- Digital payment acceptance
- Automated monthly billing
- Easy configuration and customization
- Support for nine different currencies
It integrates seamlessly with QuickBooks, and the product itself can be extended by any developer familiar with the .NET framework, C#, and VB.NET.
Joget Workflow is an open-source, web-based tool that allows you to develop your own business workflows and process management applications.
If you are also looking for something that will facilitate a rapid application development process for your company, Joget will fill that need as well.
Deployment, Interface, and Features
Joget Workflow itself is built on Java's Spring Framework and deployed using Apache Tomcat servers.
The Joget user interface is web-based and features drag-and-drop functionality that allows even non-software developers to create their own apps.
The applications you can develop using Joget will include features like form entry, data submission, and records management.
OrangeHRM is a popular application for human resources professionals at organizations ranging from startups to enterprise level institutions.
It offers an open source version, as well as paid professional and enterprise level solutions that are hosted by OrangeHRM.
OrangeHRM features, which are modular and can be included or excluded as desired, include:
- Recruitment process management
- Onboarding management
- Personal information management (PIM)
- Employee self-service (ESS)
- Leave and time off management
- Time and attendance tracking (PTO)
- Travel and expense tracking
- Performance evaluations and training
Languages and Customizability
OrangeHRM is available in English, Russian, Spanish, and Danish.
OrangeHRM is fully customizable, so subscribers to the paid version of the product can request an implementation configured to the needs of their businesses.
The company also offers professional services, including online and onsite training in HR management techniques and processes.
Asterisk is a telephone private branch exchange (PBX) system that runs on a server and utilizes connected telephones (and other hardware-connected technologies).
Asterisk serves as a link between an organization's phone system and a public phone service like a PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) or a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) system.
Common phone system tasks that Asterisk is capable of handling include:
- Phone-tree menus
- Conference calls
- Call Queues
A Malleable System for Open Source Fans
Asterisk is fully extensible, which allows developers to build new modules. Some of the things organizations can do with such modules include programmatically controlling a phone system or connecting a phone system to a secondary (or tertiary) system.
For example, an organization might implement a system that routes an incoming phone call to a customer service agent.
This is while displaying the customer account data associated with that phone number to the agent's computer screen at the time the call is received by the agent.
There are a number of proprietaries, and very costly, PBX systems available. Asterisk was one of the first open source solutions available, which means that it is very popular in areas of the world where you find companies that have limited access to resources.
anyInventory is a (now defunct), fully customizable web application that served as a basic online inventory tool for digital businesses.
It provided a highly customizable system that allowed users to track products of all types using user-specified fields and categories.
anyInventory is relatively light in terms of the features it includes, but you do get functionality for advanced searches and file uploads. It is still available for download, but it has not been under active development since 2005.
It is unlikely to be fully compatible with modern browsers or server technologies.
OpenBiblio is an open source, automated library catalog system that includes:
- Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) integration
- Circulation-related features
- Lending features
- Cataloging features
- Tools for staff administration
- Reporting for things like overdue items and statistical models on the use of items in the library
Its ease of installation, simplicity, ease of use, and great supporting documentation make it popular with small and rural libraries around the world.
Language Availability and Value
There are many different translations of OpenBiblio available, and sometimes the languages are not those most commonly used.
For example, OpenBiblio supports the Nahuatl language spoken by the 1.5 million Nahua peoples who now live predominantly in central Mexico.
Furthermore, there have been many projects that improve the value of OpenBiblio, including the training and use series developed by the University of Wyoming and targeting librarians who may not be comfortable with technology.
OpenBiblio is written in PHP.
The Open Media Collectors Database (OpenDB) is a web application that allows either individuals or small organizations to inventory and catalogs their media collection.
Collection items might include DVDs, VCDs, CDs, VHS cassettes, games, books, and laser discs.
OpenDB can also be used to help you keep track of who you have lent materials out to. It functions as a lightweight library cataloging and circulation system. It is an open-source product that is written using the PHP programming language.
To store the data itself, OpenDb uses a MySQL database.
Though OpenDb has not been updated since 2010, you can still download and use a stable version of the product.
On the internet, there is something for everyone, and software is not the exception.
Regardless of how unconventional you think your need might be, chances are, there is an application or tool that you could use to make your work or life much easier.
What Did We Learn?
In this article, we covered several niche software options. Some are actively maintained, some are not, yet are still popular in certain niche circles.
These tools range from simple databases targeted toward specialty groups to full-featured platform options designed to disrupt an industry.
You never know what you might find on the internet, so if you ever find yourself thinking, "Gee, I wish there were an app for that..."
Well, there just might be.
Also check out Niche Hosting categories, which is related to this page.