DocuShare 2.0 makes Web document management work
- By Patrick Marshall
- Sep 27, 1999
Given the performance and navigation issues involved in using the World
Wide Web, the key to designing an effective Web application is simplicity.
Xerox Corp. clearly has learned that lesson well. If your agency is looking
for an effective document management program that offers easy access through
any Web browser, you'll want to take a look at DocuShare 2.0.
Installing DocuShare on your Microsoft Corp. Windows NT or Sun Microsystems
Inc. Solaris server is a no-brainer. And once the software is loaded, it's
a snap to create users and document collections. The administrator, like
end users, accesses DocuShare through a Web browser. The program offers
easy-to-follow dialogs for creating user profiles and granting permissions,
creating document collections, setting document properties and configuring
other server options.
Users logging on to DocuShare will be greeted by an easy-to-navigate interface
that offers quick access to document collections, help files, site maps
and other helpful features.
Once users get into a document collection, clicking on the file itself launches
it in its parent application on their local system. Alternatively, by selecting
the appropriate icon to the right of a file, users can open its properties
form, check out the document or view it in the Web browser. Checking out
the document allows users to edit it—assuming they have the appropriate
permission—and prevents others from doing so until that user has checked
DocuShare allows the administrator to maintain logs that record all such
activity. The other way to access files is through DocuShare's powerful
search utility. The program automatically performs full-text indexing ?
using Verity Inc.'s indexing engine ? on files brought into DocuShare.
As a result, users can search not only for text strings in files, but also
by date, author, document type or other properties associated with the files.
And the program's incremental indexing means that as soon as a file is uploaded
or checked back in, it is updated and fully accessible to users employing
the search tools.
In addition to check-in/ check-out capabilities, DocuShare allows users
to retain successive versions of files and track any file's revision history.
What's more, DocuShare offers direct integration with Windows via Windows
Explorer. Installing the Windows client software from the DocuShare server
automatically mounts DocuShare as a network drive on a user's system. That
user then can access the DocuShare collection like any other local directory.
You can choose from two different versions of Docu-Share, in addition to
the Basic Edition. The Office version of DocuShare offers Extensible Markup
Language support, the Windows client, Open Document Management API support
and a command line interface to the basic package. The Enterprise version
allows for an unlimited number of users and delivers Oracle database connectivity.
The Oracle Corp. support in the Enterprise version enables you to include
DocuShare meta file information in Oracle databases.
We found only three significant drawbacks with DocuShare 2.0. First, because
the program is a Web application, users and administrators alike will find
the back-and-forth navigation of pages to be a bit tedious. Second, the
program is subject to the performance slowdowns often experi enced on TCP/IP, especially when connecting via the Internet. Finally, we were a bit disappointed to find that the DocuShare interface allows users
to add only a single file at a time to a document collection. You can add
batches of files only if you install the Windows client or Uphelper application
and use Windows Explorer to move the files into DocuShare.
In the big picture, the drawbacks are relatively minor. If your agency needs
a cross-platform solution that provides easy access to users while retaining
control of user access, DocuShare is a powerful, easy-to-use solution.