IBM Connections Explained: all about files!

Ok, I admit, this one was a long time in coming but it’s finally here! The next video in my little series on IBM Connections usage questions. This time it’s all about files and especially about the difference between :

  • Attachments vs Files
  • Personal vs Community files

I hope it helps explain a little what the difference is between them and how to use each. Good luck!

 

Indexing support for Activity and Forum attachments in IBM Connections 5.5

Sometimes with large updates you miss the little things that make the difference… One I missed with the release of Connections 5.5 was that apparently the indexing on attachments has been added for Activities & Forums now:

in 5.5: “IBM Connections supports the indexing of file attachment content from the Files, Wikis, Library (Enterprise Content Manager files), Activities, and Forums applications. Content from file attachments in Blogs is not searched.source

Was: “IBM Connections supports the indexing of file attachment content from the Files and Wikis applications. Content from file attachments in Activities, Blogs, and Forums is not searched.source

For most people probably not a big thing but it means that now at least one will be able to search for content in the documents that were added as attachments to forums and activities. Something that was often causing headaches to users who couldn’t find back information they were sure they had added to IBM Connections.

It’s still wise to train your users to upload files to a community or personal files first and share them from there (as it allows things like locking, version management and commenting) but all in all still a very nice little feature of 5.5 that had slipped under my radar!

 

Salesforce & IBM Connections integration – keeping your organization connected

With so many solutions touting social capabilities out there and being used for different situations it can be daunting to decide on when to use what and why. Your organization might already have Salesforce, IBM Connections, Sharepoint and solutions like Jira that offer social capabilities but how do you get all these worlds together? The last thing you want after all is to have one department ‘being social’ in one platform and another somewhere else. That completely undermines the whole aspect of cross company collaboration….

Social Islands

but there might be good reasons why they need to use those different platforms. Your sales departments might live and breath in Salesforce and need that direct connection between their Chatter posts and the accounts they pertain to and your developers might scream bloody murder if you take away their JIRA wall. But what if Salesforce and JIRA aren’t being used in the rest of your organization and other solutions are required or used there? Like IBM Connections. How do you prevent a ‘social island’ culture in your collaboration landscape?

Bringing it together

There are several solutions and integration options out there that address the problem of ‘social islands’ and offer integration for a large number of platforms like JIRA, BOX, SharePoint and even Salesforce already. Mostly orientated on pulling information from these platforms into the IBM connections environment or integrating specific parts of IBM Connections into them. But when it comes to integrating IBM connections into the Salesforce environment or two way integration there really was still a lot to win. This is changing as QKOM has been working hard on creating a solution that will allow for deep and seamless integration of Salesforce and IBM Connections.

Seamless Integration

By allowing the user to connect through OAUTH to use, create, search and post directly and effortlessly from within Salesforce to IBM Connections communities, files, activities and update streams – Salesforce users will be able to collaborate and work in both systems at the same time without having to leave their environment. Keeping other organizational users (or even external partners!) who might not have access to all the info in the Salesforce environment up to date of developments and statuses and utilizing the many great options each system offers. This will save your organization on potentially expensive licenses and allow for a connected yet still also secure and specialized collaborative landscape.

QKom

logo_qkom_gifI’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with QKOM on this topic discussing further use cases and functional requirements and am excited to see more bridges between the Salesforce & IBM Connections worlds being build. After all, it’s all about finding ways to collaborate!
 —–
Please see the following clip for a first glance of what is possible but keep in mind that there is more to come very soon so stay tuned

IBM Connections: Default follow on public files is it logical?

At one of my customers a user complained about the fact that every time he opened a publicly shared file it would automatically ‘follow’ that file. This meant that every subsequent ‘like’, change or comment to that file would show up in his timeline. Of course he could ‘unfollow’ the file but found it irritating that it would follow it at all without him making that conscious decision.

After testing and a little digging by our admins it turns out that indeed this is the default behavior for IBM Connections and can be managed by changing a setting in the files-config.xml:

<emailNotification>
    <addOnMediaDownload enabled="true"/>
</emailNotification>

So no big deal but we did have a bit of a discussion as to why this setting is there in the first place and if it is logical. Yes, there is a case to make for auto-follow as that will ensure you keep track of subsequent changes to that file. After all, a publicly shared file that you don’t follow or isn’t in a community that you follow is sometimes hard to track but at the same time it can be quite annoying. In an environment with thousands of users and where public files are shared and mentioned in other sources like the intranet, auto-following a file simply because you opened it once, can cause lots of updates in your activity stream by other people ‘liking’, commenting or editing the file. Information you might not be interested in at all as you only just wanted to read it that once.

To be honest, I think this is one of those settings that can be interpreted either way. The bigger discussion now is do we disable it? This user clearly finds it annoying but what about all those other users? Do they want to auto-follow or not? The setting is org-wide so any change will influence all. You can’t just change the default behavior of a system used by thousands of users without annoying at least some.  I guess this is something that will have to be decided by the the business.

So what do you think: Is auto-follow indeed the logical behavior or not in a Enterprise Social Network and how does your organization handle it?

Re-Thinking mail – Attachment storage in the cloud

2015-05-06_23-42-40This week Microsoft is hosting its big Ignite conference in Chicago and based on comments from some people in my network I was alerted to an intriguing announcement about Microsoft releasing a new integration between outlook and OneDrive by the end of 2015 that would allow attachments to reside in OneDrive and shared and co-authored across recipients both internal as well as external without the need to actually ‘attach’ the actual file in the mail itself.

“Why is this relevant?”

  •  If attachments are stored and referenced from globally accessible cloud storage it saves on data being transfered across networks and cluttering our mail servers.
  • More importantly, it allows for central storage and versioning instead of people blindly sending each other copy upon copy with all the risks of lost changes and incorrect versions
  • Furthermore…. Single point of data means that other great options like online simultaneous co-authoring are possible!

It is in fact the basis of true collaboration and it is something many customers have asked for.

Most enterprise social networking tools and some mail providers already offer or are working on similar features but the main problem has always been “what to do with external recipients?”

This is where Microsoft is trying to make a difference apparently. The idea being that you don’t have to ask yourself whether someone has access to the central storage depository (OneDrive) or not. Based on the recipients email address the system will simply check whether the recipient is a known user, prompt the user to create an account so he or she can then authenticate and open and edit the file.

“Nice, but what if my org doesn’t use OneDrive?”

This is where I actually got a bit excited while watching the recorded session as they recognize this scenario and are actively working on including other cloud storage systems like Dropbox to work with this feature as well. So no vendor lock-in on OneDrive… nice!

I am curious though as to what the larger implications are going to be with this. The main one being data consistency….

Like how do I, as a recipient, ensure that the attachments I receive in this way remain unchanged and available? With attachments received in the old fashioned way the sender would not be able to change my copy of the mail/attachments as it would physically be located in my mail box. With this new way the attachment on the OneDrive location can easily be changed or even removed by the author and/or other recipients. This could cause questions in regards to legal implications and E-Discovery needs.

Overall I think Microsoft has just throw down a serious challenge to the other major players in this market and I look forward to seeing what they are going to do!

Tidbits about this feature from watching the session recording:

  • Automatically suggests to upload large attachments to OneDrive instead of sending as attachments
  • Easy ‘share from OneDrive’ options that will upload and set the correct accessibility settings
  • Previews without downloading (cloud only)
  • Support for non-Office files
  • Real time online co-authoring for MS Office files through O365
  • User can control whether attachments are send as a ‘cloud attachment’ or authentic attachment
  • Works both for on-prem as well as for O365 environments
  • Allows users to connect to multiple cloud storage platforms & accounts
  • Is planned to work with different cloud storage providers. Talks are already underway with DropBox

The session “Rethinking attachments: Collaborating in Outlook with OneDrive” is available online.Watch the session here yourself  (I’m not sure how long this will be up) or check out the sessions detail sheet.

 

Folders versus Tags – Infographic

For a while now I’ve been working on various posts on the topic of “Folders versus Tags” and why there is no such comparison really… This is a topic that is often hotly debated among people involved with social business and definitely close to my heart. The problem is, none of those posts ever saw the daylight as they became too long, too complicated and simply said: boring. There is a lot to say about this topic but most of all a lot of explaining. therefore I tried something different. I hope this infographic will help explain some of the specifics of each of the options and why comparing them isn’t always possible. Have fun!

Click on the image to see a full version preview

Folders versus tagging

IBM Insights highlights

Last week I had the privilege of attending IBM Insight 2014 in Las Vegas. The largest Big Data conference in the world that focuses on Business Analytics, Information Management and Enterprise Content Management. As someone with a keen interest in both Analytics as well as ECM it was the perfect place to learn a bit more of the solutions IBM offers – or is planning to offer – in this space.

Out of the many highlights of this week three stood out for me personally:

1. IBM Watson Analytics: A cloud  based solution that allows you to upload a data set and get an in depth data quality & relationship analysis back in the form of graphs and infographics. Combining cognitive computing & analysis to deliver predictive business analytics.

I was a bit skeptical about all this but had the chance to play around a bit with it in one of the usability sessions and must say I really liked it. It’s currently in Beta status but I can’t wait to see the end result and to use it in my own environment.

2. IBM Navigator:  This one threw me a bit because of the name as there is also the IBM Content Navigator that I was familiar with already. Where Content Navigator is an on-prem user interface & toolkit that allows access into existing CMIS enabled ECM systems and offers a great level of integration with other systems -without being tied into any of them-, IBM Navigator (without the “content”) is a cloud implementation of that same interface but with a fully functional cloud ECM solution already behind it. Allowing organizations the ability to utilize the cloud ECM with user interfaces & mobile applications without having to install or maintain the heavy systems that are required for most enterprise ECM’s themselves. Now I have to admit I don’t know the full extent of what this product is going to offer and what its limitations will be as I’m currently still awaiting access into the IBM Navigator beta to try it all out but what I’ve seen and heard so far is promising. Especially for SMB customers who don’t have the knowledge or capacity to maintain an Enterprise level ECM but do require the functionality.

3. Case Management: This isn’t a new product but simply one I hadn’t been around yet and that really ticks a lot of boxes for me as someone with a strong interest into ECM related business processes.  “Case management is built around the concept of processing a case, which is a collection of information and coordinated activities by knowledge workers or case workers. […] It looks at repeatable business problems from the perspective of the knowledge workers, and empowers the knowledge worker to solve those problems. Bundling the case information, documents, rules, and all the tasks that might be required to solve the business problem into a flexible solution“.

I really enjoyed working with this one in one of the labs. It allows you to quickly create and adjust case oriented applications with workflow, task management and content management by easily configuring properties, forms and process flows. Currently this is not yet available in the cloud but I understand there are plans for it. If it does become available as a cloud solution (perhaps as extension to the IBM Navigator platform?) it will open up a lot of possibilities to the larger SMB market as it provides a single ECM framework that includes case management, content management, processes, records and analytics in a easy to manage way.

There were many more products and announcements there and I’m sure others would have probably named other highlights but for me these are the things that really peaked my interest. Some might have been around for a while now but were simply not on my radar before. Others were entirely new.

Currently I’m signed in and awaiting access to several of the beta’s and reading up on more documentation. I hope to post more about these as I continue learning!

 

IBM Connections Folders #4: Some final recommendations

This blog is follow up in a series of blogs on Folders in IBM Connections. For full understanding I would recommend reviewing the previous blogs: #1: Community Folders, #2: Ownership of files and folders and #3 working with folders first.

 

So in the previous three post I explained a bit about the ins and outs of IBM Connections folders, the different flavours you have and how they work and differ from each other. But the question now is how do you use them…?

I’m not going to tell you.

The truth is that each organization is different and each situation is different. IBM Connections is a social business platform that offers you tools that can help you stimulate collaborative work and knowledge sharing and there really is no ‘right way’ or ‘wrong way’ as long as you can achieve that. Having all three different types of folders (Shared Folders, CCM Folders and Community Folders) means you just got more options to find YOUR way. But to do so it is important to understand how each of them function, what their strongholds are as well as possible weaknesses. In the previous 3 blogs I’ve tried to give you an overview of those strengths and weaknesses.

Control?

Having so many options that work so differently at times can be quite confusing. Can you prevent users from using a certain type of folders?

Well in a way yes, by simply deactivating the whole feature. Shared Folders is part of the personal files, as far as I know you can’t easily deactivate those without deactivating personal Files too but I’m no admin so check with your admin before dismissing that. CCM Folders require CCM Licensing and an additional installation. You can definitely choose not to buy it / install it. Then again, that would mean you lose some great features that CCM could offer to your organization so make sure you fully evaluate before deciding! Community folders, which is part of the default offering as of IBM Connections 4.5 CR4, has only recently been released and it requires a specific act from your administrator to activate so again, that is something that you can choose to do, or not.

But….! Don’t just dismiss these options. Make sure you test them and discuss them with your users. They might in fact solve problems you weren’t even aware of. In that sense, having so many different options also means you have a rich variety of possible use cases. Just make sure you are aware of how each works.

Recommendations

So what would I recommend?

Well, again, it’s all up to your situation, organization and needs. But there a few things I would definitely recommend:

  1. Do not implement CCM just so your users have nested folders…. Yes, I know having this option is a great selling point for CCM but it will always fall short in replicating the functioning of their file shares, even with subfolders. If that was the only reason to implement it, users will only get disappointed. Instead, highlight the other benefits of social file sharing and look at the other features CCM offers like approval cycles, document types and the option of having users control the security access levels to it. Use that to show users why CCM could be a great thing to use.
  2. Inform users of the Ownership differences between Community Files/Folders and Personal Files/Folders. Try to come up with a strategy with them, on when to use what. There are clear cases where personal files are preferred but in other situations community files can be a better way to go. If for no other reason than to at least make sure they are, by default, editable to all community members or ensure a better security within a community.
  3. Do not use Shared folders in Restricted communities. See this blog for an explanation why.
  4. Train your key users so they know how IBM Connections Files & Folders work and provide cheat sheets so they can understand and explain to other users why certain things work the way they work.
  5. Try & experiment. As stated before, IBM Connections is a platform offering more than one way to go. That is its strength but sometimes is also seen as its weakness as it can be confusing to users. Find out what works for your organization and base your content strategy on that.
  6. Lastly, but probably most importantly…. If you haven’t done so yet, explain to users what the key thoughts behind IBM Connections is and try to get them to realize that when it comes to Sharing information in a social platform, the premise about who should have access to a file or folder shouldn’t be “I, unless…” but “Everyone, unless…”!

 

So have I covered everything there is to know about IBM Connections folders? No! There are whole areas I haven’t even touched upon. So I will most likely be publishing more blogs on this topic in the future. In the meantime, let me know if you thought this series was helpful or if you have any questions by posting in the comments.

IBM Connections Folders #3: working with folders

This blog is follow up in a series of blogs on Folders in IBM Connections. For full understanding I would recommend reviewing the previous blogs: #1: Community Folders and #2: Ownership of files and folders first.
 

When I was starting this series of blogs on the different options of sharing files & folders within IBM Connections it was mostly influenced by my own interest in how it all worked. As a Business Consultant specializing in both Document Management as well as Social Business anything having to do with structuring file management interests me. So after our test environment was upgraded to IBM Connections 4.5 CR4 I set out to test how the new Community Folders option fitted in with the two existing Folder options in IBM Connections: Shared Folders and CCM Folders.

Truth is that I find certain things kind of confusing...

A big part of this is that IBM Connections is a Social Platform, concentrated on offering users ways of sharing large quantities of information that is mostly unstructured. This, in contrast to ERP and document management systems that deal mostly in structured information. But the lines between structured and unstructured information is not as clear cut as most people would like it to be. Certain documents could fall in both categories depending on the user or situation and because of this you see that more and more solutions are trying to straddle the fence between structured & unstructured information management. With overlaps in functionality and requirements and often confusion as a result. It’s a common problem for most systems trying to manage diverse flows of information.

The place where this is most visible within IBM Connections is the way it handles Files & Folders.

Tagging

‘Social die-hards’ will tell you that in situations where unstructured information is stored and a need for organizing or categorizing arises, folders fall short. They advocate “tagging”, another feature IBM Connections has.

I agree! Tagging, a more fluid and user driven way of categorizing and linking files, can greatly help in making unstructured information more findable. Tagging, by being flat instead of hierarchically structured, allows a file to have numerous tags by numerous people. Often even giving weight to the number of people who tag something and how often it is tagged with the same tag. A file can have dozens of tags but in general can only be in one folder so when a file is not as unilaterally recognizable as belonging to one category folders often fall short as you have to choose, whereas tagging will simply allow you to have multiple completely unrelated tags.

The problem is though that users like folders. It gives them a sense of structure, and frankly…, they are used to it. Plus they sometimes offer additional options like limiting what users can do (CCM folders for instance that allow for approval cycles on documents added to their folders) and offering options to link folders to communities.

So IBM implemented folders. At first only as in Shared folders. And as it figured restricting files to only one folder wasn’t ‘social’ they gave files the option of being shared with more than one shared folder. That was actually quite inventive but users wanted more. They wanted nested folders. So then, with the advent of CCM, users got CCM Folders with security options and the much asked for option to nest folders (subfolders). That was a major change that a lot of users liked as it was something they were used to while using file shares. Unfortunately CCM did require additional licenses which, for a lot of organizations, proofed to be a big deterrent in implementing it. And lastly, with CR4, we now have Community folders.

Great! So enough choice for our users! What is the problem?

Confusion. That is the problem. When offering users features and functionalities you hope to offer them solutions that help them do their work. To do that they need to be aware of how it works and it needs to be logical. How can folders not be logical? You ask. Well, because folders in IBM Connections, as stated before, do not work the same as folders in for instance Windows. Regardless of what we think is logical in a social system, the users will always compare it to what they know, which in the case of ‘folders’ is windows. In a way, the first thing you need to teach your user therefore is that an IBM Connections folder is not a Windows Folder and once you’ve done that, you need to teach them that within IBM Connections a Folder is not a Folder either as CCM folders work differently from Community Folders and completely different from Shared Folders

Take for instance the fact that you can place (share) a file in more than one Shared Folder but only in one CCM or Community folder and there is your first confusion….

Functionality

Even I, after several days of testing all the ins and outs of the Folders functionality in IBM Connections find myself wondering how certain things work so what I did was to create a simple list of some key features and actions and how each of the folder types responded to it. Keep in mind that as Community Folders is still quite new, certain things might still be in the pipeline (like mobile support) and that overall, IBM is constantly updating and improving IBM Connections. Things might change over time. Another factor to keep in mind is that this is list is far from complete. There are so many more features I didn’t even touch on yet but I still wanted to at least share what I have. I might blog more on some other features in the future:

 

Adding files to folders:

An important thing to know when working with folders is how you get your files into the folders. Can you for instance select multiple files at once by having a file picker option or do you need to go into each file independently to add it to a folder?…

Getting files into the folder:

Shared Folder CCM Folder Community Folder
Does the folder have an option to upload files directly from the the pc? Yes, multiple at the same time Yes, multiple at the same time Yes, multiple at the same time
Does the folder have an option to add files to the folder that were uploaded into the community files first? No No Yes, multiple at the same time
Does the folder have an option to add files that were uploaded into your personal files first? Yes No No
Does the folder have an option to add files that were uploaded into a CCM Library (both the one in which the folder is located as well as others located in the same Community) first? No Not easily. You can’t select files within the same library to add to a folder in the “Add Files” interface but you can go into individual files and use the “Move to folder” option to get them there. But only for files in the same library. Yes, as long as that CCM Library is in the same community
Does the folder allow nested folders? (e.g. subfolders) No Yes No


Folder_13

Adding files is one thing, moving them around between folders another!

Shared Folder CCM Folder Community Folder
Can files uploaded as personal files be moved between folders? Yes No No
Can community files be moved between folders? No No Yes
Can CCM files be moved between folders? No Yes, but only within the library they are in. If a community has more then one CCM library (this is very well possible) then files cannot be moved between libraries No

 

Where do my Folders show up?

A big thing in working with any feature is that it’s behaviour is recognisable to the users. So I set out to test how folders and files in them are depicted to the users. Would they for instance be shown on the homepage of a community and how do you know in which folder a document is located?

Shared Folder CCM Folder Community Folder
Are the folders visible on the Homepage of the community? Yes, through a special “Folders” tab in the Files section No, you do see the most recently added files that are in it though in an overall list of files without indication in which folder they are stored Yes, through a special “Folders” tab in the Files section
Can you see files recently added to folders on the community Homepage? No, only in the Shared Folder itself. To see the files the user will have to open the Shared Folder On the Community Homepage all recent CCM files will be shown in the Files section including any added to a CCM folder. There are no folders visible on the Homepage so from the homepage it is impossible to see whether that file is in the Library or within a folder within the library. On the Community Homepage all recent files will be shown in the Files section including any added to a community folder.
Can you see on the details page of the file itself in which folder it is placed? Yes, on the Sharing tab you can see with which folders a file is shared No No
Are the folders available in the mobile app? (iOS tested) Yes Yes ? (I couldn’t test this with my setup)
Is the folder (and files within it) visible in the IBM Connections plugin for Windows Explorer? Yes Not yet, but it is accessible through the Quickr Dektop enabler plugin and inclusion into the standard Windows IBM Connections plugin is said to be planned for a later release this year No

 

Additional features:

Apart from the default options IBM Connections has some additional features you would normally not find in for instance a File system folder. These can help the user keep track of things changing and help them download document sets and are therefore great features!

Shared Folder CCM Folder Community Folder
Does the folder allow for subscribing to updates on the folder? (updates show up in the activity stream) No No Yes
Does the folder offer an RSS feed? Yes Yes Yes
Does the folder allow for bulk download of folder contents (e.g. all files in one ZIP file?) Yes No Yes

Folder_12

—————————————–

It all works and all does what it needs to do but it doesn’t always work together or work together well. Moving files around, how you can share information in folders, where you see your information and what options you get… Each of these folder structures seems to have its own logic and implementation. That is what I find confusing and I’m sure a lot of users will find confusing too.

Don’t get me wrong, I can understand why certain things work differently and I can also understand that certain things are simply still under development (like the fact I can’t view community folders in my Windows Explorer plug-in) but the problem is most users might not understand if you don’t tell them. So there is a definite need, when implementing these features to explain them to your users. Better yet, come up with a content strategy.

In my next blog, the last of this series, I will talk a bit about the things you have to consider while deciding on how to use folders in IBM Connections.

IBM Connections Folders #2: Ownership of files and folders

This blog is follow up in a series of blogs on Folders in IBM Connections. For full understanding I would recommend reviewing #1: Community Folders first

Ownership is quite important in IBM Connection when it comes to data. Why? Well because ownership isn’t always straight forward and sometimes data shouldn’t be public.

Obvious! Why would you even need to say that?

Well… The premises of any social platform like IBM Connections is to share. That means that in theory the thinking is that every file you put into your social platform should be ‘public’ (e.g. findable and accessible to all). Reality of course is that this is not always the case. Even in a very ‘open’ organization certain files will still require protection and limited access. This is one of the reasons why users in IBM Connections can specify “Sharing” settings on files they upload as well as folders and communities they create, restricting access to only specific groups or users. The basic idea is though, and this is something you feel very clearly when working with IBM Connections, that everything is open, unless.

Storage

How you can limit access is partly determined by where the files are stored. Looking specifically at files you can say that IBM Connections allows for two* main storage points:

  1. By uploading it into a users personal Files section
  2. By uploading it into a community

In the first case, uploading a file into personal files, the file will always remain in the ownership of the user. The standard security level setting for personal files is ‘Private’, meaning no one can access apart from the owner. The owner can however decide to make a file ‘Public’ (accessible to all)  or grant specific Editor or Reader access to specific users, groups or communities. Ownership and full control will always remain with the original user though.

A file stored directly into the community however is different. Ownership of these files lies not with the user that uploaded it into the community but with the community. All users of that community from then on have equal rights to that document. This means that if the user uploads a file into a restricted community and is subsequently removed as a member of that community, the file remains in the community and is no longer accessible to the user that originally uploaded it.

A similar structure applies to folders. Folders created in a users personal files section will always remain in the ownership of that user. Folders created as Community folders and/or CCM folders however will always be property of the community, not the creating user. This also implies the biggest restriction which is that a folder created within a community or CCM Library can never be shared across communities while Folders created as personal folders can be shared with more then one community, group or user.

CCM folders have one added element to keep in mind which is that they allow for imposing additional access restrictions on folders by limiting edit access to specific subgroups of community users. You can for instance use this to restrict that only a few of the community users are allowed to edit the information in a CCM folder. Read access however will always be there to all community members though and the user creating the folder as well as the community owners cannot be revoked as owner of that folder unless they are removed from the community.

Shared folders versus Tags?

Which brings me to another peculiarity of shared folders…. A folder in the traditional sense as people know them from for instance their file drive is a place, a physical location to store a file. Meaning a file can only reside in one folder at the time. Shared folders however are different as a file can be added to more then one Shared folder. So in a way shared folders aren’t really ‘folders’ at all, they are collection sets and almost act the same as tags. After all a tag is nothing else then a categorization and several files having the same tag can be seen as a collection as well. The difference between a shared folder and a tag in IBM Connections is though, that you can control access and Share a shared folder and you can’t do that with a tag.

Folder_11So keep in mind that a Shared folder is significantly different from a community or CCM folder as those are more aligned to the standard concept of folders while Shared Folders in a way hold the middle between a Tag and a folder.

Shared folders & security

So… why would you create folders within communities if personal (Shared) folders give you more options to share across communities & user groups and allow you to have information in them that is also shared in other folders? Well because there are some risks with having shared folders. For one, users don’t always realize the implications of putting a file in a folder shared by someone else.

No problem if the community (and therefore the data in it) is public anyway but what if you have a Restricted community that has a shared folder which is also shared with another Community? A user might think that because he is adding a file to a folder within the Restricted community that therefore the file itself is also only shared within that community. Unknowingly though he might be sharing that file with other users & communities. Only if he actively opens the sharing tab will he see that it is also shared with other communities and therefore visible to not only the users of the (restricted) community he thought he was adding it to, but any other communities/users that folder was shared with as well.

Example of a folder with the ‘Sharing’ tab opened to show this folder was shared with two communities

In theory the user who originally created the folder and shared it with the community could even be removed from that community while his shared folder would remain shared and visible within the community. Which means that any files added to that folder by any other community member after the user was removed from the community would effectively still be accessible to the user (creator of the folder). Using Shared folders in Restricted communities is therefore something I would strongly discourage to prevent confusion. In these situations Community folders and/or CCM folders should definitely be the first line of choice. Shared folders should only be used to share public info where it is no problem that it is visible across several public communities

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Next up I will go into how you can work with the different types of folders and what differences and similarities are between them. I hope to publish this tomorrow.

 * Files can also be uploaded in other places like Activities and blogs but from a standpoint of file management I am leaving these out for now