Web Apps – Sharing and Organizing Documents

With Web Apps and “Wave 4” Windows Live users have an expanded set of resources and services. The Office section has been added and the looks of SkyDrive have changed. It is now possible to create, store and share documents right in “your office in the cloud”.

As with all things new, there is some learning and getting-used-to involved. Organizing and sharing are important tasks to master and are quite a bit different from what you are used to on the desktop.

Let’s start from the beginning. The first thing to do, of course, is to sign in to your Windows Live account. You can always start at www.live.com. If you are not already signed in (your browser may remember) this takes you to the sign in page. Then to your Windows Live Home page.

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Click on Office and you are in your new place in the cloud. In fine geek tradition, this is a messy place. Here is what my friend Frank saw when he “walked” into his office this morning:

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Well, it could be messier, you should see mine!

On entering “Office” you see a nav pane on the left showing items in the categories “Personal”, “Shared”, and “Shared with me”. In the main area there are documents that Frank has shared and documents that others share with him under “Recent documents on SkyDrive”. More sharing information is in the “Messenger social” section. There are nice icons for creating new online documents and a bit of advertising. This ad is the small price we pay for all these tools and services – I have taken the liberty to replace the ad with a fake one for my book. There is much to explain about this view, but to stick to the topic of this post, here is what Frank got when he clicked “View all” (there are several of those links, they all do the same thing).

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This is a cleaner view and shows folders and documents (here just one). I will call these the “primary items”. When a document is created by clicking one of the nice icons in the previous view, this is where the document will be located. Imagine creating all your documents here – a large and unmanageable list. The primary items are special and differ in important ways from all other items that are inside these folders – I will call those “filed items”. For primary items, folders or documents, sharing can be specified. Point to an item and it changes in appearance to something like this:

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imageYou get the file details and several links, “Edit in browser”, “Share”, “Version history”, “More”, and an “X” delete icon. Share is what we want to talk about. “Edit permissions” allows specifying who can see and edit the document or the items in a folder. There is a slider control for setting the access from “Just me” to “Everyone (public)”. “Just me” keeps it a personal document, inaccessible to all others. For “Friends” there is an additional control to specify whether they can edit the document (or documents in the folder) or just view them. The public or friends of friends can only view items.

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Regardless of the slider setting, it is also possible to give specific individuals access to an item with the “Add specific people” option. Access by an individual – it does not have to be a friend, it can be anyone who has an e-mail address – is set up by entering the person’s e-mail address and pressing Return or Space to enter more people.

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For each person it is also possible to specify just view access or full edit access. (In the illustration Emily’s e-mail address is not fully shown to protect her privacy.) On clicking Save a page is presented to permit sending notifications to the people.

So sharing of primary items can be done on a very “granular” level with full control. This is one feature of the “primary” items. All filed items take their permission from the primary folder that they are in.

Now that I discussed sharing of primary items in detail some important information:

Primary items can be shared, renamed, or deleted – they cannot be copied or moved. This means reorganizing primary documents is not possible – or at least not easy. This is why I do not recommend creating documents in this location, in spite of the beautiful and inviting icons.

Filed items, those inside primary folders or folders inside those, take their access settings from the primary folder. So no share settings are available for those items. However, for those items management options are available.

Inside a folder there are a number of options.

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You can create documents or add files from your computer. Adding files opens a field and you can just drag documents or photos over from Windows Explorer (but not folders).

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For documents in folders there are now options to move or copy the file. Folders inside folders can be moved to other folders. Now you can organize your documents! Easy, straightforward.

One more point: You can upload documents only into folders. That keeps them “off the floor” in your office right from the start.

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About Ludwig

Lending a helping hand where I can. . . My motto: If it is worth doing, it is worth doing well.
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One Response to Web Apps – Sharing and Organizing Documents

  1. Dana says:

    Thank you!

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