Electronic documents are all well and good - but when you work onthem collaboratively, they can end up being more difficult to handle thanordinary pieces of paper. Multiple versions, competing standards, accesspermissions and revision history tracking are just some of the issues thatarise in a paperless office. This article discusses building and deployinga document management system across your network - and also teachesbeginnners a little bit about designing Web-based applications with PHP andmySQL in the process.
Having understood the problems, it becomes easier to decide on the requirements of the solution. An analysis of the problems above reveals that most of them would be resolved if we had a system which:
1. offered a central storage area for group documents;
2. used some manner of secure access to ensure that only users with appropriate permissions viewed or edited sensitive information;
3. made it possible to identify which users were working on which documents at any point in time;
4. tracked the changes made to each document;
5. offered a quick and easy way to locate documents in a large repository, and categorize them according to type;
6. provided a framework for multiple users to collaborate on a document, without imposing any special software requirements or constraints on them.
I initially debated restricting the system to text documents only; however, since we use a variety of different applications for internal communication (spreadsheets, documents, project schedules, schematics), I decided to also allow users to upload binary files of any type (administrators should, of course, have the option to restrict certain file types if necessary.)
This, therefore, constitutes the initial feature set for our application. If I am able to meet these basic requirements, it will make a lot of people very happy, and more features will be requested. Once I have enough requests for more features, I plan to go to the guy in the corner office and ask him to make me a manager, double my salary, give me my own office and assign me to the project full-time. Ahhhh haa haa ha ha!
This article copyright Melonfire 2001. All rights reserved.