Document management applications form the backbone of many corporate intranets and extranets for good reason: they can extend the file-sharing capabilities that typically reside on LAN servers to anyone with Web access. Xerox's DocuShare 2.0 is a strong example of this type of solution. This easy-to-use program puts the control of shared documents directly in users' hands, offering the drag-and-drop usability of a networked drive, plus browser and client software document management features such as version control and full-text search.
Like version 1.0 (see www.infoworld.com/printlinks), DocuShare 2.0 lets anyone with a Web browser work with document collections, which appear in a familiar, nested-folder format. Collections may contain calendars, bulletin boards, application files, and URLs. Further, the enterprise edition of DocuShare 2.0 integrates with Oracle 7.4.3 or 8.0 databases. This makes it well suited to enterprise companies, which may find this feature useful for including DocuShare meta data in their companywide Oracle repositories.
Groupware solutions do not offer DocuShare's document capabilities. Lotus, for example, recognising the complexity of its Notes software, has introduced its QuickPlace teamware solution, and Instinctive Software's eRoom provides document sharing and interactive functions, including polls. But these solutions target interactive teamwork, offering document sharing only to support online collaboration. DocuShare, however, is designed specifically to handle large data libraries.
During my tests, there were no problems creating individual user accounts, groups, or shared workspaces. Buttons and pull-down menus offer straightforward access to these functions, as well as collections management. Significantly, I never encountered broken links to files, because each time a collection changed, DocuShare dynamically updated the content index.
With its full-text indexing and searching capabilities using the latest Verity engine, DocuShare performed more accurate indexing of 30 file types than did earlier versions. Also, incremental indexing makes documents available for searching the second they upload.
Users may also customise DocuShare to varying degrees. I was able to redesign my DocuShare 2.0 Web home page and to change icons throughout the site. Further, by modifying the Extensible Markup Language templates that dynamically generate DocuShare Web pages, users can radically alter the way in which the program appears and operates.
After loading the client software, I used Windows Explorer to drag and drop files to a DocuShare collection, bypassing the browser-mode download step. Explorer also made it easier to lock files and change document properties.
Though it is deceptively easy to use, DocuShare 2.0 is strong enough to function as the main document repository for an enterprise. Alternatively, it is a very good supplement to more expensive, complex groupware products.
Mike Heck (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a contributing editor and manager of electronic promotions at Unisys, in Blue Bell, PennsylvaniaTHE BOTTOM LINE: VERY GOODXerox DocuShare 2.0Summary: This application is an easily customisable, programmable solution that helps workgroups publish, manage, and use documents on the Internet, corporate intranet, or extranet without IT involvement.
Business Case: DocuShare offers a low per-seat cost and one year of included support. Also, three versions are available to accommodate basic needs and the more sophisticated needs of larger enterprises. Its scalable architecture, centralised software deployment, and Secure Sockets Layer security make it well suited for complex organisations.
+ Customizable Web interface uses Extensible Markup Language and templates+ Full-text indexing+ Supports WebDAV+ Works with ODMA 1.5-compliant applicationsCons- Windows-only client softwarePlatforms: Windows NT Server 4.0 or Sun Solaris with any Web browser