NextPage solves document-management dilemma
Quietly efficient NextPage 1.5 slips document management into everyday routines
In Word 2003, NextPage 1.5 automatically recognizes when you’ve used the Merge tool and takes the task off the To-Do list; otherwise, you have to remove it manually. Once the task is removed, the version history shows the alternatives that have been incorporated into the master.
Identity Is the Key
NextPage 1.5 performs its magic by creating a unique identity for every document and placing that identity in the document’s metadata. It shares that identity with a central server, so two versions of a document on different machines can be related to each other, even if the name has changed.
NextPage assures me that the central server identity data doesn’t contain any information from the document that you would want to keep private; the server simply stores an opaque trail of relationships. The document is the key that’s used to reconstruct the relationships: no document, no information.
Because of the central server, NextPage can serve non-NextPage users, too. NextPage 1.5 gives you the option of including an e-mail document signature, which would include a URL pointing to the document’s homepage on the NextPage server. The homepage provides the current status of the document, including whether it’s the most recent copy.
This Web page service portends some interesting possibilities for Web services. For example, some companies might want to audit where certain documents are for Sarbanes-Oxley compliance. NextPage servers could easily return that information as a Web service.
Aside from users’ potential unfamiliarity with NextPage’s document-ownership concepts, my chief complaint is that there are too many places to get information in NextPage 1.5. In addition to the NextPage toolbar in Word, there’s a new menu item in Office documents and an icon in the task bar. And if you right-click any document NextPage is tracking in the file explorer, yet another menu appears.
If these were just different places for the same information, it wouldn’t be so bad, but each menu is slightly different. It left me wondering which one I should use to get the information I needed.
Nevertheless, NextPage 1.5 is so easy to use that there’s really no more excuse for not managing documents at your organization. If you’re a CFO worried about Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, or just a project manager trying to get a handle on who’s got what, this product will solve your problems.
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