Virtual File Cabinet

Store and protect shared files with this Web-based product

Have you ever downloaded a file from your file server's shared documents folder, made changes, and then lost your changes because another user was editing the document at the same time? Are you tired of trying to track who is currently editing a common document? Virtual File Cabinet (VFC) 2.0 from Infodata Systems can help.

VFC is an intranet, Web-based document storage and management system. You use VFC through any Web browser to store, retrieve, and search for documents within a central storage facility. The product has robust search capabilities that let you search based on document name, keywords, and author's name. Furthermore, the product stores documents in a fully secure environment: Users gain access only with permissions or passwords.

The VFC software arrived on a CD-ROM, and I installed it on my homebuilt Micronics-based dual-Pentium II CPU running Windows NT 4.0 Server. The server was already running Internet Information Server (IIS), so this was a logical choice for a test platform.

The software includes a 14-page guide to help you complete the complex pre- and postinstallation processes. During the preinstallation steps, you must install a Web server and SQL Server 6.5 with the associated Open Database Connectivity (ODBC). I bypassed these steps because I already had a Web server and SQL Server on my system. However, I had to allocate two database devices (vfsdata and vfslog) via SQL Server's Enterprise Manager.

After I completed the preinstallation steps, I ran the setup program on the VFC CD-ROM. The software appeared to install successfully­the setup program prompted me for the location of my Web server's scripts directory and root directory. I then had to provide a VFC System Database Logon \[MD: Are these caps necessary?\]. The VFC software uses this logon to connect to SQL Server. I also had to provide my database administrator (DBA) logon (so the installation program could create the VFC database) and an NT logon to run the VFC File Access Services.

After I completed several postinstallation steps (which included changing the Web server's configuration, making sure the logons I provided as part of the installation existed and had the correct permissions, and securing the software's archive directory), I was ready to use the software. Unfortunately, whenever I clicked a link, I received an error message. Infodata System's Web site indicated I needed Service Pack 1 (SP1). After I installed SP1, the software worked flawlessly.

Using VFC is easy. You merely point your browser to the vfc.html file in your Web site's root directory. The .html file launches the VFC main menu, from which you can launch the administrative program or the user interface.

The user interface uses a Windows Explorer-like approach to give you access to your files. When you launch the user interface, a treeview hierarchy of VFC root containers, offices, folders, and documents appears. You drill down through the list by clicking the + and - symbols.

Root container, office, and folder are the hierarchy levels that you use to manage your document structure. For example, I created a Marketing Department and an Engineering Department root container. In each root container, I created offices for each department's managers (e.g., Mike in the Engineering Department container) and then a series of folder categories within each office. How you create and manage this structure is up to you. The structure gives enough flexibility that it will work in most environments.

After you set up your document-storage hierarchy, you store documents by drilling down to the appropriate folder and adding a document. During this process, VFC asks you to provide the document's filename and to fill out some quick search fields. Although many fields are optional, you need to fill them out as completely as possible to help the search process. Screen 1 shows where you provide this information prior to saving a document. After you provide the necessary information, click Create to store the document.

VFC has a high per-server price but no per-seat charges. An unlimited number of users can use one server, which offsets the high per-server cost. You can download a trial version of the software from Infodata System's Web site.

Virtual File Cabinet 2.0
Contact: Infodata Systems * 703-934-7154 or 800-336-4939
Price: $9995
System Requirements: Windows NT 4.0 Server with Service Pack 3 (SP3), Internet Information Server (IIS) or Netscape Web server, 128MB RAM
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