Targeted document distribution

Targeted document distribution

In most enterprises, it's important that employees have immediate access to up-to-the-minute documentation, from ISO-9000 procedure manuals to customer service forms. Traditional e-mail and hard-copy delivery is sufficient in certain circumstances, but these methods are labour-intensive and make it hard for users to determine whether they have the latest version.

Marimba DocService, Version 1.1, automates the process of getting the right material to the right people, both within your organisation and to others you authorise through an extranet. Its well-designed interface organises subscribed documents so that end users can quickly locate up-to-date material. For document creators, the software makes it easy to publish files to categories so that users automatically receive only what's relevant to their jobs. By making documents easier to distribute and update, your organisation can reduce training and support costs, enhance communications, and improve productivity.

DocService is the first stand-alone application to run on top of Marimba's Castanet architecture. The core Castanet solution lets you deliver, update, and maintain applications across the Internet. If you already have a Castanet system, installing and configuring the DocService plug-in should take less than an hour. A new installation, which is similarly easy to set up, will probably take less than one day.

Certainly, other products address this document-delivery problem, such as Allegis' Net-It Central. However, such competitive applications often cost more than DocService and don't offer DocService's immediate, targeted distribution.

Using DocService was a breeze. I immediately understood DocService's user interface, and after I connected it to the server, a hierarchical folder list displayed just those categories to which I had subscribed. Moreover, highlighted folder names and other clear indicators pointed me toward new content.

To retrieve a file, I right-clicked on the title in the main document pane. Another option on this pop-up menu let me request an alert message when the document changed. Taking customisation further, I used the preferences menu to change my subscriptions and perform other tasks, such as delivering only the abstract of a document. Conversely, LAN users can have DocService automatically export the content of entire document trees to a directory on their local hard disks.

Publishing is also straightforward. From the same client software, I merely selected the Publish New Document command, entered a title and abstract, chose the file to upload, and indicated the categories in which the document would appear. In addition, I specified that the document would expire after a designated time, an important feature that helps ensure that old material isn't inadvertently used.

Alternatively, I could instruct DocService to restrict viewing to one person. This feature is useful if you need documents to be reviewed and approved before widespread distribution.

When publishing documents, I could distribute a Web site containing various HTML files and graphics in addition to documents in other formats, such as Microsoft Word. Furthermore, DocService let me select Web delivery in addition to the standard document deployment to those using the client software. As such, it was easy to allow users to access files through a password-protected extranet.

Beyond DocService's usability, I appreciated how it leverages Castanet's underlying architecture. For example, the DocService client compares locally stored documents with those on the server and then intelligently downloads only the changes, conserving valuable network bandwidth.

IT managers will also like the system's ability to publish from existing databases or document-management systems, thereby protecting the company's investment. Finally, distributions draw names from your existing directory infrastructures, such as Windows NT domain lists. Thus, user information doesn't have to be duplicated - and it's automatically kept current.

In all, DocService makes sure that important documents stay current and reach the right people quickly, with the least amount of effort.the bottom lineMarimba DocService 1.1Summary: DocService uses Marimba's Castanet server to automate the delivery of documents and updates to Web sites and users of the DocService client. It should be seriously considered by any company that distributes frequently updated documents to specific employees or partners.

Business Case: DocService makes documents easier to distribute and update than using Web posting, e-mail and CD delivery methods, thus reducing training and support costs, enhancing communications, and improving productivity.

Pros: ¥ Simple document publishing and retrieval ¥ Targeted delivery of multiple file types ¥ Secure Sockets Layer and strong encryption ¥ Parallel Web deliveryCons: ¥ May require firewall configurationPlatforms: Windows NT Server 4; Solaris 2.5.1; HP-UX 10.20; IBM AIX 4.1.5.

Cost: $US1000 per server; $100 per client. There is no known Australian distributor.

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