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Document Management Systems

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Posted by Slartibartfarst
Jan 28, 2013 at 02:38 PM


Posted by Richard06118, Jan 27, 2013 at 04:45 AM:
...I use the free version of Copernic Desktop Search and the Sleuthhound
Posted by Dr Andus, Jan 27, 2013 at 11:47 AM:
I also thought that file and folder explorers are a different category from document management software. Probably a lot depends on the volume of existing and incoming documents one needs to manage, and the frequency of having to recall them, which will call for specific solutions.
But re file/folder explorers, I think it’s definitely a category where if you try a Win Explorer replacement, you’ll have few reasons to return to Win Explorer, even with the free versions, such as Explorer2 lite.I’m a very basic user of Directory Opus (just scratching the surface) but since I’ve tried it I couldn’t live without (mostly for reasons of time-saving):
- opening pre-set number of folders (in tabs) simultaneously, when Dopus launches;
- switching on vertical dual-panes with one click, whenever needed;
- having key folders colour-coded (creating a bread-crumb trail to destination folders);
- ability to resit my pre-set default view and location with one click, when things get messy.
- a preview pane that can view pretty much any files out there.
As you said, I didn’t know these features even existed until I tried my first Win Explorer replacement - which is why it’s worth to keep on CRIMPing.
Posted by Alexander Deliyannis, Jan 27, 2013 at 03:38 PM:
I will agree that my use of the term Document Management _System_ for Windows Explorer is a bit far fetched. It is first and foremost a File (including Documents) Management _Tool_.
A System implies that there is some method/procedure/framework, as shown by Slartibartfarst in respect to Knowledge Management. Though Windows Explorer has not much to offer in terms of facilitating such work, I maintain that there is some kind of underlying framework, as witnessed by specific conventions:
- Folder tree
- Default user directories
- Shared folders
- Network sharing
- File associations
- Versioning
- One document - one file
- Files can only be in one folder at a time\
All of the above are conventions which facilitate document organisation, development, collaboration and distribution. We take them for granted, but they are not; in the thread on Paperport, a tool is mentioned which puts all documents in one big bucket and organises them via tags. There are tools like Scrivener and PageFour which take care of the file infrastructure, while the user works with “books’, “projects’ and “chapters’. There are other tools which store multiple documents in database files, etc.

In short, one can build a Document Management System using Windows Explorer as the Document Management Tool, and standard Windows conventions as the framework to implement specific procedures. There may be more advanced tools, better suited for particular work; the advantage of Windows Explorer is that it’s already there, wherever you may find yourself.
Posted by Graham Rhind, Jan 28, 2013 at 08:18 AM:
Alexander Deliyannis wrote:
> When you say you put files in OneNote, do you mean actually embed them, i.e. import them _into_ OneNote notebooks?
> And are you talking about different kinds of files (which themselves alone can be really big), including Word documents, images and PDFs?

It depends how one defines “archive”, right?  Data files which I’m not likely to need again get zipped and backed up on external media.  But I have a load of customers who contact me with “We met and discussed x in 1998.  Remember?”.  Er, no.  Or “what work did you do for my predecessor in 2002”.  Because I have around 130000 document files scattered over my PC I need to put some of them in a place where they can be easily found, previewed and tagged, so that I can get answers to questions like that.  So I both link and read any type of file (particularly Office, image and pdf files) into OneNote because that allows me to find the file and to view the file without opening it (as it is “printed” onto a OneNote page), and it allows me to seamlessly sync (properly sync, not use the same file as) between PCs.

Disk space is not at a premium, so reading a file into a file doesn’t seem as illogical to me (that’s what all these document management programs are doing, plus TreeProjects, UltraRecall etc. etc.).  I admit, this is not the ideal way to work - I have a very disciplined and logical brain but a very ill disciplined and illogical workspace.  No wonder I need this forum!


The above and other comments in this discussion thread generally go to illustrate that the de facto Windows file structure can be said to provide a viable and logical DMS (Document Management System) framework - for example, as outlined by @Alexander Deliyannis.
The opening post seemed to indicate that @Gary Carson was interested in a DMS which somehow operated at some kind of (presumably higher) other level - different to the otherwise adequate Windows File System.
I tried to make the point that one’s definition (and criteria for) a DMS would largely be dependent on how one wanted to use the Knowledge incorporated in the documents, and I suggested a definition for KM Knowledge Management. The implication was that if you had such a definition for KM, then your criteria/requirements for a supporting DMS would be more easily identifiable.

@Alexander Deliyannis is arguably spot-on about the existing Windows File System and Windows Explorer. I have also long treated the OS and file management system as a DMS. The frustration for me has been that the OS was never really designed as a DMS but as an OS and associated file management system, so it has shortcomings as far as my peculiar needs go. However, there are various features and functions in the current incarnation of Windows 7 and NTFS that give it much more exciting potential as a DMS. For example (and building on @Alexander Deliyannis’ list):
- A hierarchically rigid folder Tree - each branch is unique and cannot be connected back to the tree at any other point than the origin.
- Built-in visible system default user directories/folders in the Tree.
- Built-in invisible system default user directories in the Tree.
- The ability to add folders to the Tree at almost any point.
- The ability to nest directories.
- The ability to Share directories with other users in the LAN/WAN.
- The ability to set File Associations to single programs that will automatically open/operate on those files.
- Versioning (not sure about how to control this)
- One document


one file principle.
- The ability to attach metadata, tags, etc. to a file via NTFS alternate data streams (e.g., using the Comments and a hundred or so other fields). However, this to some extent arguably breaches the One document


one file principle.
- A single unique copy of a File can only exist in one logical folder at a time.
- Logical views of files and folders to create logical flat file “Libraries” that cut across many folders - Microsoft seems to have kludged the reparse point or “junction” concept to enable this.
- There are built-in standard system Libraries.
- The ability to create new user Libraries.
- The ability to create logical reparse point or Junction folders, so that files can seem to be (have the illusion of) existing in more than one logical folder at a time (changing a file changes the file across all views).
- Windows 7 Index/Search:
(a) The OS’ built-in file index/search feature (Search via the Start menu or via Windows Explorer) enables instant full text searching across *all* the file/document types and their metadata, and all the directories that are default and/or that you have additionally defined for the index/search system to operate upon.

(b) The OS’ index/search can include *any text* in single and multi-page .TIF/.TIFF files (which text is automatically OCRed by the index/search feature, if you tell it to do that) and in OneNote Notebooks (databases), but it *excludes* the text in documents embedded as whole files saved within OneNote Notebooks.

(c) The OS’ index/search can include all text in OneNote Notebooks - that includes all text, and any text in any images in OneNote Notebooks (OneNote automatically OCRs any text in images saved in Notebooks, if you enable that facility).

(d) The OS’ index/search can include *Searching for information in audio notes in OneNote*, which includes various audio file types with speeches, songs, and dictation - refer https://www.donationcoder.com/forum/index.php?topic=31755.msg302855#msg302855.

1. The inbuilt Windows 7 File System, Libraries and Windows Explorer generally seem to provide an adequate and very good DMS with powerful file index/search/find and retrieval functionality. You can build on this with additional search utilities - e.g., Locate32, Copernic, .Everything, etc.
2. Using Microsoft OneNote as a standalone tool - which is integrated with the OS - has the potential to realise some very useful extended DMS and PIM (Personal Information Management) functionality.
3. Using a Windows Explorer replacement (e.g., such as xplorer², which I use) can further extend the DMS and PIM functionality (QED) - e.g., search functionality, flat files, scrap panes, bundle-to-go NTFS files and extended data streams, bulk edit/update of files’ metadata (esp. Comment fields), mass duplicate check/removal, mass folder/tree file comparison.
4. Given the above, and if your database is a client device (desktop PC or laptop) with minimal need for cloud-based storage or collaboration capabilities, then you might *not* need a separate/new DMS.
5. You could gain some very useful DMS functionality by incorporating Reference Management (e.g., Qiqqa) and Library Management (e.g., Calibre) functionality into your solution set. This might carry an overhead/disadvantage of duplication of data.

1. The 255 character path length max limit seems to still be a limitation in the OS under certain circumstances.
2. Using reparse point or Junction folder is risky for the uninitiated. The user could inadvertently/unintentionally wipe out their data, as anything you do to change (e.g., edit or delete) a file actually changes the real file, not some kind of image or copy.
3. Reparse points do not exist in entirely happy union with the OS - e.g., backup:
Microsoft support note (KB973455) - http://support.microsoft.com/kb/973455/en-us
“By design, Windows Backup does not traverse reparse points on a computer. However, if a reparse point is directly added to a Windows 7 Library, or if any of the child nodes of a reparse point is directly added to a Windows 7 Library, Windows Backup traverses these locations. This could cause several issues during the backup process.”
4. You can share Libraries across LAN/WAN, but may encounter difficulty in handling or sharing reparse points/Junction folders.
**Recommended reading re the latter: XXCOPY TECHNICAL BULLETIN #050 - http://www.xxcopy.com/xxtb_050.htm
5. The OS’ index/search capability can apparently include .ZIP files and contents, but does not always work on them for some inexplicable reason.