As part of our making Documentum Better in 2018 series, this post will look at how users can work with folders and documents within a folder in Webtop as compared to OpenContent Management Suite. In prior articles, we’ve explored how users add documents to the repository and search for documents. For this post, we will look into the available functionality for both consumers and contributors when looking at a group of related documents, typically contained within a folder.
Back in 2012, we looked at how folders were managed and exposed in a number of interfaces. The article is still worth a read today since the concepts are largely the same in 2018. Some of the highlights include:
- Foldering in an ECM system can pose challenges since:
- Ensuring documents are always placed in the correct folder can be tricky
- For large systems with many folders, traversing a complex mutli-level folder tree can be cumbersome
- For large systems with few folders, these folders typically contain many thousands of documents, making it hard to find documents and suffering from interface performance issues
- Webtop makes primary use of a folder tree navigation component
- OpenContent Management Suite (in 2012 called HPI) takes a different approach, where metadata searching is the primary mechanism for finding folders
Let’s look at how Webtop compares to OpenContent when working with folders and documents within a folder:
Webtop utilizes a folder tree navigation pane on the left hand side of the interface that is largely unchanged from when we did our analysis back in 2012:
Users can find folders by browsing the folder tree, similar to utilizing Windows Explorer. While this may be familiar to users, keeping a complex taxonomy stored in a folder hierarchy can be cumbersome, and increasingly is unfamiliar to users that are used to searching either by metadata or full-text search.
While working within a folder, documents and any subfolders are displayed in the main pane:
Some thoughts on the webtop folder view:
- Filtering documents in this view is limited to only a “starts with” search. There’s no way to filter or facet on these documents utilizing any other approach.
- Sorting and ordering columns is limited in the same way as the search results view discussed previously in the search comparison. While the user can control which columns appear and in what order, the attributes available are limited to the out of the box “dm_document” attributes. Custom attributes are not available, meaning users cannot display or sort on custom metadata.
- All document and folder actions (ex: view properties, checkout, etc) are either in the menu bar above the documents or in a right click menu. While this does organize the actions neatly in a hierarchical fashion, many users don’t know that certain actions exist because they are buried under menus and sub-menus.
- Viewing documents is only accessible via a double click or “Open (Read Only)” action available in the ‘File’ menu or right click. This downloads the document to the user’s local and opens the document in it’s native editor, meaning that it’s impossible to view documents in the browser. This can be very cumbersome for large files or when the user needs to find the one document she is looking for out of many documents in a folder.
OpenContent Management Suite
By contrast, OpenContent Management Suite has a much different approach to both finding and working with folders. Instead of a full-repository folder browser, users find folders via a metadata search. By focusing on search, OpenContent frees up the taxonomy on the back end – no longer does the folder structure need to follow how users navigate the folder tree.
This approach has a number of benefits beyond freeing up the folder taxonomy on the back end. Finding folders via metadata provides many ways to access a group of folders vs. a static hierarchy of folders that only provides one way. Additionally, after searching users can sort, filter and facet results just like any other search. Once the user clicks on a folder, OpenContent Case displays the folder in a configurable case management view:
Some thoughts on this folder view:
- Key metadata beyond simply the folder name is quickly visible in the top left corer of the view. The attributes that display here are configurable in the admin UI.
- Folder Actions are configurable and clearly listed for use based on the user’s security permissions. Menus and sub-menus are not utilized
- The View All Documents action clearly lists the documents in the right pane that are in the folder. This view is exactly the same as the search results view. This means that the user can:
- Filter, sort and facet the list of documents
- Control which columns are visible and in what order. This extends to any attribute, including custom attributes.
- Documents can be displayed in the bottom left using metadata categorization. This displays to the user like subfolders, but it’s really metadata on the documents that’s controlling which ‘subfolder’ the document displays within.
- Advanced folder and case management actions are exposed and easily accessible to the user. These include:
- Combine PDF – allows the user to quickly combine many documents into one. The resulting document can be stored in the folder or downloaded to the users machine
- Send Email – allows the user to quickly send an email directly from the case folder. Documents within the folder can be attached to the email. The email itself is recorded in the case folder for reference and later viewing.
- Folder Notes – allows the user to add notes to the folder, which can be useful when more than one user is working within the folder over time. Additionally, notes can be automatically recorded here when certain actions are performed on the folder. For example: document upload, delete, email sent, etc.
Diving a little deeper into the ‘Related Objects’ section of the OpenContent Case view, it’s possible to configure other related documents and folders to display here as well. This provides a mechanism to surface other content outside of the current folder that may be useful to the user. In the example above, we can display other related policies and claims for the current policy on this screen without losing the user’s context (and forcing the user to execute another search):
When viewing documents in OpenContent Case, the document is quickly previewed in the browser, typically utilizing OpenAnnotate as the viewer so that the user can annotate on the document as well. This allows the user to quickly preview the document without needing to download to the local machine and open in the native editor:
Some additional notes:
- Document actions are clearly visible above the document. The available actions are configured by an administrator in the admin UI and are security dependent. For example, if the user only has READ permissions on the document, then actions such as checkout, delete, etc. will not appear.
- Users can utilize a dual pane view to view two documents at once. See the screenshot below.
- Document properties are displayed along side the document, allow the the user to easily line up content with metadata. See the screenshot below.
- Advanced document actions include:
- Document Notes – similar to Folder Notes mentioned above, but tied to a particular document.
- Split Document – the opposite of the the Combine PDF action, this action allows the user to split up a single document into many.
- Send Email – Executes the same send folder email functionality, but automatically attaches the current document to the email.
Dual pane view – viewing the policy contract along side a claim loss report:
Dual pane view – viewing a document and it’s properties on one screen:
When it comes to working with folders and documents within a folder, Webtop’s interface has not changed much at all in the last 10+ years. While the interface may work for small implementations, in a large system the folder navigation and hierarchy can be cumbersome to work with especially in case management scenarios. By contrast, OpenContent Management Suite is being continually improved and enhanced by TSG’s community of clients and is geared for highly configurable case management scenarios. Let us know your thoughts below.