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GroupWise Document Management

This is the first in a series of articles on the topic of GroupWise Document Management.

By Andrew McGregor, Messaging Support Specialist

Although GroupWise is initially an E-mail client, there are other features of GroupWise that are now available to the user since the recent upgrades (5.2 and 5.5). One of these features is GroupWise Document Management Services (GWDMS). The document management feature is actually quite impressive and a good fit with the functionality of the GroupWise client.

Document Libraries

The concept behind GWDMS is the management of electronic documents through the GroupWise client. Since users already have the client on their machines and should be fairly familiar with it, using it for organizing documents should come quite easily. Using the client folder structure, the end-user can create their own organized way to view and manage their documents that reside in the document library. For instance, a search folder can be created to only find documents with the phrase "fiscal year reports". When the end-user opens the folder, the search is automatically carried out and they can view all the documents that fit the criteria. The searches can be as basic, or as complex as the user wants. With these search folders, the end-user will be able to access only the documents they need and won’t have to scroll through hundreds of documents looking for particular ones.

Through the client, the user can create a document and add it to the library with very little effort. Adding already created documents is an equally effortless task as well. With the import feature that is built into the client, the user can even add entire directories of documents to the library. After documents are added to the library they are indexed so that text-based searches can be done on the document bodies. In this way the GroupWise client can be set up to act as an electronic filing cabinet simply by creating a few search folders.

All of the documents accessible by the client are encrypted and compressed and reside in libraries that are associated with GroupWise post offices. The libraries are physical storage areas where the actual documents reside. These documents are accessible by any GroupWise user in the system using what are called, "Document References". Document References are pointers that are created in the client folders to represent the document it points to. Effectively, one user can create a document and make it available to any number of other users on the GroupWise system. This arrangement facilitates collaboration among GroupWise users, sharing documents, and effective organization of a large number of documents all using the GroupWise client.

In addition to the searching capability, GWDMS offers the ability to checkout and check-in documents. To explain this, let’s look at a typical situation involving a document that needs to be edited by two or more people. When user A opens the document and starts to edit it, an in-use flag is set on the document so no other user can edit it at the same time and risk corrupting the document. Therefore, if user A is not done editing it on Friday afternoon and doesn’t want anyone else to edit it until he or she gets done, user A will have to leave the document open all weekend to keep the in-use flag set. Well, this is not at all practical and is remedied with the checkout and check-in feature. When user A checks the document out on Friday, the in-use flag is set, but the document doesn’t have to stay open. In essence, checking the document out means setting the in-use flag without having to open the document. In conjunction with that, the user checking out the document has the option of updating the document without checking it back in. This gives the other users that have rights to the document the ability to see the changes made to the document as they are made while not being able to edit the document themselves.

Web Publishing

Along with these features, there is also the Web Publishing feature. Through GWDMS, users can publish documents to the Internet using a published library. A published library is one that has been given the ability to display its contents through the GroupWise WebAccess interface on the Internet to anyone choosing to look at it. Using the GroupWise WebAccess interface gives non-GroupWise users the ability to view documents in the GWDMS. The way this works is simple, a user creates a document that they wish to make public and they put it in the published library and give all users general access to it in the sharing properties of the document. This way any Internet user could view the document as well as copy it to their local machine. There is a point to be made here that is quite impressive. These documents in the published library are not necessarily HTML documents. In fact MSWord, Excel, and WordPerfect documents that make up many of the documents that would normally be viewed in this context can be displayed on the Internet. In other words, GroupWise converts the documents to HTML in order to be viewed, but the document itself remains in its original format. Using this technology, a user can edit a Word document and have the updated document displayed on the Internet in a matter of minutes without having to take any more steps than with normal editing. This could prove to be quite handy.

More Information

Stay tuned for more neat GroupWise Document Management features next time. If you want to do some reading in the meantime, check out the topic of "Document Management" in the Novell GroupWise Cool Solutions vault.