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Using the new online Document Holder editor

CogniDox 8.7 added a new online editor for Document Holders.

So what does a document holder (DH) file type do?

It addresses a problem commonly found in electronics and software product development where you need to make available a coordinated set of files to users for download. The configuration is all-important - a version 2.1 software driver may not work with some other particular version of hardware.

It could be, for example, a company's product called the "ABC1234 Evaluation Board" that another company (an OEM) uses as a target device to test their software. From the downloads page we might want to make available the Gerber Layout Files (in Zip format) as well as PDF files of the Schematic, Bill of Materials, Test Procedure and the User Manual. They may include driver software options for Linux, Windows x86 (32-bit) or Windows x64 (64-bit) driver packages. Perhaps they also add the source code for reference as a zip file.

Another example could be a company that makes a small-sized single-board computer - they don't know in advance what operating system an end-user will install so, on their user downloads, page they may offer zip files for Debian, SuSE, and other Linux distributions.

A variation on that example might be a company that releases packages of Linux Drivers and Utilities, VMware Drivers and Utilities, Windows Drivers and Documentation. If there's a change for example to one of the DLL files in a Windows OS variant, only that package needs to be changed.

The problem for the Product Manager in these types of project is that it's difficult to keep track of all the moving parts. Imagine that there are ten separate pages on www.example-company.com/products/dowloads and each of them has a number of files. Just hand-crafting the HTML as each file changes will be a chore, let alone the potential for user error if someone forgets to make the change(s).

So, enter the document holder (DH) file type. During the development phase it acts as a handy checklist ("Why is XYZ still only at draft status one week before delivery?") and when it comes to delivery/release, publishing the DH is equivalent to publishing all the parts and there's far less chance of one element being forgotten or overlooked.

The problem with DH files before 8.7 was that they're XML files and editing the XML source directly was off-putting for many. The online editor makes this a far easier task, by drag-and-drop of documents into sections and by combining sections from other DH files.

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Value of a DMS for product development

Tags: Document Control, Product Management, Software Development, document management system