Thursday, August 6, 2009

Note to a Software Vendor, regarding Document Managment Integration

Hi ----, Thanks for getting back so soon. I hope you can look at this issue over your entire product line. Here's the situation as I see it. Ancient Times:
  • I had "my" computer, "my" files, I managed everything myself. It was all about me, Me, ME! If you wanted a file, I would mail it to you or copy it to a network share.
Modern Times:
  • I have at least two computers, a desktop and a laptop. My files are under revision control and stored in a central repository. I sync files to my local box and work on them. Sometimes I work on the same file on two boxes -- my desktop coz it has a big screen, and my laptop coz I can take it to meetings. If you want a file, I can just tell you where it is on the central server and you can access it at your leisure. And good news for you, I have two copies each of [your product].
Most existing software works well in the first case. Software that works in the second case will, IMHO, start to replace software that does not, even if the other software is better in most other regards. As an example, we've installed [a web-based package] on our wiki. Butt ugly and limited, but certainly matching the modern time requirements and very "friction free" with regards to sharing files. Of course, it's hard for any local app to beat a web app in the sharing arena, but I hope that all your products become "so close" that there's no temptation for people to switch. As a practical thing, here's what I would love to see for all your products.
  • easy to check in / check out in revision control system.
This means either
  • - making documents into single files
  • - adding support for various revision systems
  • - adding hooks so revision system plugins can be created
  • easy multi-machine usage.
This is a big deal for something like [the project tracker package]. I'm sad to say I've got two copies but I stopped using it, because I would leave it running on my desktop, and then I couldn't run it on my laptop at home. Or I would add some action items in a meeting on my laptop, close the lid, and at my desktop, not have them show up. For programs like this, you should look at how IMAP email works. It is very convenient, I have my desktop mail open, my laptop mail open, my PDA mail open, and no matter what I do they all just magically stay in sync. Anyways, all IMHO, of course, and I hope this is useful feedback to you. Regards, Mark

No comments: