Vizit Releases Vizit DRM for Microsoft SharePoint

Vizit is proud to announce the general availability of version 6.1 for SharePoint 2010 and 2013. Vizit provides solutions for SharePoint search, document viewing and sharing, collaboration and annotations, and with this release, protecting important company assets with Vizit’s new Digital Rights Management feature.

Vizit allows you to give your users the ability to view important documents and get their work done while securing your documents. Automatically direct users to Vizit Essential or Vizit Pro when they access documents and know exactly where your content is at all times — safe and secure in SharePoint with Vizit.

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The Effect of SharePoint 2013’s Minimal Download Strategy (MDS)

More and more captivating web-based user interfaces require additional logic and processing to be passed along to the browser. Fortunately, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and more recently IE have met the task head on – creating more robust and efficient runtimes for these needy wares which are primarily written in JavaScript. Vizit fits that bill. SharePoint 2013 introduces a new feature, the Minimal Download Strategy (MDS), in an attempt to more efficiently manage these browser resources. MDS has both pros and cons and this blog explores them in the context of how they impact what we do at Vizit.

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Since its inception, Vizit has been proud of its zero footprint mentality. Even when it was cool to develop in Flash, we understood that it wasn’t the right tool for the task. Well maybe it was, but it was clearly a dead end. Considering the uprising of mobile and its cold shoulder to those plugin-based technologies, the decision couldn’t have been a more correct one. Even though we don’t use Flash, we still managed to have dynamic user interfaces that work as well as a desktop app while shedding the deployment headaches that typically come along for the ride. As with any design decision, though, this one came with a trade-off: bandwidth required by application resources.

When dealing with web-based interfaces, transferring resources (JavaScript files, CSS, etc) utilize precious bandwidth. Every new feature requires more code to be sent to the browser — increasing our footprint. Bear in mind, Vizit’s footprint has been small and our caching techniques have allowed us to utilize the browser to its fullest and only re-download resources when they’ve been updated due to a software upgrade. This isn’t always the case for third party solutions that use JavaScript. And that is why Microsoft’s Minimal Download Strategy is so important. And even more important than Microsoft adding this into SharePoint is you – the SharePoint community – knowing about it.

At its heart, the MDS does what its name suggests: it reduces the amount of resources your browser needs to download to the bare minimum at a particular moment in time. Instead of loading full pages of data every time you navigate from one Document Library to another, it only loads the parts of the page that need updating – foregoing any resources (JavaScript, CSS, etc) that might be common between the two. While this sounds like a win, it is not a hands-off change. Third party tools must update their software to handle this new world. Without reacting to it, the experience seems to break down as you browse and the inconsistency leads to frustrated end users.

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The way it works can be broken down into two basic steps. While I’m not familiar with the exact underpinnings of the entire process, this is based on our experience in adding support for MDS in Vizit. First, when a user clicks on a link in the SharePoint interface, instead of downloading that full page and all of its required resources, it queries SharePoint for what amounts to just the difference. That delta is then sent to the browser where it is processed and all the swapping occurs. Any areas that are no longer relevant are removed and their content is replaced. Second, and probably the more critical of the two for JavaScript solutions, is any and all global variables are deleted as part of the garbage collection process. To avoid this fate, each global variable must be registered when it is first loaded by making a call to Type.registerNamespace(ns) – where ns is the string name of the global variable you don’t want cleaned up. In most cases, if you simply register all of your global variables (and those used by third party, JavaScript toolkits you may be using), you should be fine.

For more complicated solutions, there are some other pieces that you should investigate: window event handlers, and most painfully, the window’s unload event. First, we’ll go over window event handlers in general. Just like all of your global variables being destroyed by the garbage collector, any event handlers you’ve attached to the window object (for example, the window resize event), you’ll need to reattach after the partial page is loaded. It took some digging, but I managed to find an event deep inside the internals of the SharePoint MDS stack that fires whenever a partial page is loaded and cleanup needs to occur. Here’s a code sample for attaching to that event:

asyncDeltaManager.add_endRequest(function() {}
// your code here
});

SharePoint Thumbnail Previews

I suggest you wrap that in a check for whether the asyncDeltaManager is available, but it might not be necessary for some deployments. In our case, we allow our code to be loaded on non-SharePoint pages where this is neither available nor needed so a simple check to see if (typeof asyncDeltaManager) is “undefined” is enough. Whenever this event fires, you can take the opportunity to re-register any events that may have been destroyed. Vizit also uses this as an opportunity to attach mouseover event listeners to any document format icons that are on the page. One great feature of our product is to display a preview of a document when the user hovers their mouse over the icon next to a given document. Without knowing the page had updated, we would stop working if MDS was enabled.

I’ll get into it more deeply in an upcoming post, but what I consider to be the most controversial of side effects that MDS has on your JavaScript deployment is how it handles window unload events. In the typical life cycle of a page, the window load even fires, the page lives on, the user either closes their browser window or clicks a link to navigate to another page and the window unload event fires. This is a fairly complimentary process. At the beginning, it allows for any setup and configuration, and at the end, it gives the script an opportunity to clean up its memory space to avoid leaks due to closures and be a good citizen, overall. In the world of MDS, unload is fired for every partial page load. This can wreak havoc if the unload handlers are completely destructive (which in many cases they are, intentionally).  Depending on the situation, you may need to remove any unload listeners you’ve got or add complimentary code to the asyncDeltaManager’s endRequest event to pick up the pieces.

In the end, it may take some work to get your solution to operate properly in an MDS environment, but the trade-off is worth it.

Note: Some of the graphics in this post came from the MSDN article on Minimal Download Strategy which can be found here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/office/dn456544.aspx

Vizit Announces Extended Format Support for Viewing & Previewing in SharePoint

Vizit now supports Microsoft Project and Visio file formats and has introduced an API extension to enable customers to support an unlimited number of format.

Vizit, a leading provider of solutions that enhance SharePoint usability, SharePoint search, and SharePoint document reviews, announces support of Microsoft Project and Visio file formats for Vizit Essential™ and Vizit Pro™.

Vizit continues to build on its legacy of making SharePoint more usable through efficient file previewing and viewing by adding support of Microsoft Project and Visio formats. Vizit also announces the expansion of the platform’s API enabling developers to connect converters to support an unlimited number of file formats.

Seat licenses for Microsoft Project and Visio are expensive, especially when users simply need to view a project plan or drawing

“Seat licenses for Microsoft Project and Visio are expensive, especially when users simply need to view a project plan or drawing,”said Paul Yantus, Vizit’s Chief Executive Officer. “Our SharePoint customers can now preview and view these files and hundreds of other formats for under $5 per user on average.”

Vizit Essential remains the fastest most efficient method for previewing and viewing hundreds of file formats in SharePoint. Microsoft Project and Visio support along with the new API extension are available in the latest product download from Vizit’s web site (http://vizit3.wpengine.com/try/).

About Vizit, Inc.

Vizit is a leading provider of solutions that enhance SharePoint usability, SharePoint search, and SharePoint document reviews. For more information contact us at http://vizit3.wpengine.com, or email sales(at)vizit(dot)com, or phone US toll free (855) VIZIT-US, International +1 (425) 216-6170.

Introducing Vizit 6 for SharePoint

Vizit provides solutions that enhance SharePoint usability, SharePoint search, and SharePoint document reviews and we’re pleased to announce the general availability of Vizit 6. This latest release of Vizit builds on our core legacy of providing world class previewing and viewing solutions for Microsoft SharePoint by enhancing Vizit Essential’s PDF & Email capabilities, and greatly expanding Vizit Pro’s annotation capabilities. By popular demand Vizit 6 also extends thumbnail previews to SharePoint 2013 Document Libraries for both Vizit Essential and Vizit Pro.

Email Attachments

Vizit Essential has always provided the ability to quickly view email messages in SharePoint (Vizit supports .msg, .eml, .emlx file types). Now users can view and navigate email attachments as a natural extension of viewing an email message in SharePoint. A new slide-out panel has been added to Vizit Essential which provides a thumbnail preview of all email attachments. Users open the panel by selecting the familiar paperclip icon, and can open any attachment by simply clicking on its first page preview.

Vizit Essential Email Attachment Support

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SharePoint 2013 Document Library Previews

SharePoint 2013 Hover-Over Library Previews

SharePoint 2013 Hover-Over Library Previews

Vizit Essential greatly improves SharePoint 2013 usability by extending the platforms preview and viewing capabilities with important formats including PDF, Email (.msg, .eml, .emlx), TIF, DWG and hundreds of other file types. Vizit Essential & Pro also now provide hover-over previews within SharePoint 2013 document libraries. Users can simply place their mouse over the file type icon in any SharePoint library where Vizit is enabled to see the first page of a document. Clicking on this icon launches the Vizit Essential or Pro viewer for full file access.

PDF Bookmarks

A new slide-out panel has been added to Vizit Essential enabling users to navigate PDF documents using existing bookmarks. Support of PDF bookmarks adds another method for users to navigate directly to what the user seeks in SharePoint files. Vizit conducted a survey of over 1,200 organizations using SharePoint that revealed most SharePoint file searches seek something more granular than the file itself. This is typically a key exhibit or passage. PDF bookmarks provide an additional navigation method for users to locate the information.

Vizit Essential PDF Bookmarks

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Vizit Pro Custom Annotations

Vizit Pro Custom Annotations for SharePoint Documents

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The latest addition to Vizit Pro’s API adds support for custom annotations. Integrators can now register a plugin through PowerShell or a console program with Vizit Pro. Whenever the user selects the custom annotation in the Vizit Pro interface, Vizit Pro passes a .NET graphics object to the associated plugin to draw the result. This enhancement provides an unlimited number of annotation possibilities to integrators and their end users.

And More…

With the introduction of this release Vizit Essential can now be deployed to take over document links in SharePoint 2013 document libraries to provide a quick view versus a download of a file. Vizit 6 adds a SharePoint 2013 site level feature to Vizit Pro for adding a ribbon button and drop down menu item. Vizit Pro also has a new full screen thumbnail mode for splitting and merging large documents.

Vizit Announces Essential SharePoint 2013 Enhancements

Vizit a leading provider of solutions that enhance SharePoint usability, search, and document reviews
announces improved PDF, Email, and SharePoint 2013 Document Library support for its leading SharePoint
add-on solution, Vizit Essential™.

Vizit continues to build on its legacy of making SharePoint more usable through efficient file previewing and
viewing by adding PDF bookmarking support to Vizit Essential. Support of PDF bookmarks enables Vizit
Essential users to quickly preview, view and navigate PDF files in SharePoint 2013.

Support of PDF bookmarks adds another method for users to navigate directly to what they seek in SharePoint files.

“We conducted a survey of over 1,200 organizations that revealed most SharePoint file searches seek
something more granular than the file itself ,“ said Paul Yantus, Vizit’s Chief Executive Officer. “Support of
PDF bookmarks adds another method for users to navigate directly to what they seek in SharePoint files.”

This new release of Vizit Essential also adds support for email attachments. Vizit Essential has always provided
the ability to quickly view email messages in SharePoint. Now users can view and navigate email attachments
as a natural extension of viewing email messages using Vizit Essential for SharePoint.

Vizit Essential greatly improves SharePoint 2013 usability by extending the platform’s preview and viewing
capabilities with important formats including PDF, Email (.msg, .eml, .emlx), TIF, DWG and hundreds of other
file types.

Vizit Essential also now provides hover-over previews within SharePoint 2013 document libraries. Users can
simply place their mouse over the file type icon in any SharePoint list to preview the first page of a document.
Clicking on the file type icon launches the Vizit Essential viewer for full file access.

Vizit Essential greatly enhances an organization’s ability to use SharePoint as an Enterprise Content
Management (ECM) solution by offering SharePoint 2013 administrators an alternative to having all document
links download files. Vizit Essential can be deployed to take over document links in SharePoint 2013 document
libraries to provide a quick view versus a download of a file.

Vizit Essential remains the fastest most efficient method for previewing and viewing files in SharePoint. This
release of Vizit Essential is available today on the Vizit web site.

About Vizit, Inc.

Vizit is a leading provider of solutions that enhance SharePoint usability, SharePoint search, and SharePoint
document reviews. For more information contact us at http://vizit3.wpengine.com, or email sales@vizit.com, or
phone US toll free (855) VIZIT-US, International +1 (425) 216-6170.

Custom Vizit Pro Annotations
Custom Vizit Pro Annotations

Vizit Announces Custom Annotation Support for its SharePoint add-on Vizit Pro

Vizit a leading provider of solutions that enhance SharePoint usability, SharePoint search, and SharePoint
document reviews announces support of custom annotations for Vizit Pro™.

The latest addition to Vizit Pro’s API adds support for custom annotations. Integrators can now register a plugin
through PowerShell or a console program with Vizit Pro. Whenever the user selects the custom annotation in
the Vizit Pro interface, Vizit Pro passes a .NET graphics object to the associated plugin to draw the result.

One of the most requested features for Vizit Pro has been custom annotations

“One of the most requested features for Vizit Pro has been custom annotations, unfortunately the broad nature
of the requests have made the addition challenging,” said Paul Yantus, Vizit’s Chief Executive Officer. “This
new API extension provides the flexibility integrators need to address any document annotation need in
SharePoint.”

The new release, Vizit 6, also adds a SharePoint 2013 site level feature to Vizit Pro for adding a ribbon button
and drop down menu item. Vizit Pro now supports hover-over thumbnail previews in SharePoint 2013
document libraries without the need for Vizit Essential. Vizit Pro also has a new full screen thumbnail mode for
splitting and merging large documents.

Vizit Pro offers powerful document management and collaboration features creating a more complete
SharePoint ECM user experience. Vizit 6 is available today on the Vizit web site.

About Vizit, Inc.

Vizit is a leading provider of solutions that enhance SharePoint usability, SharePoint search, and SharePoint
document reviews. For more information contact us at http://vizit3.wpengine.com, or email sales@vizit.com, or
phone US toll free (855) VIZIT-US, International +1 (425) 216-6170.

Site Mailboxes
Site Mailboxes

Best Practice for Team Email and File Sharing

Like it or not people still like to communicate using email. It provides a way to communicate in a time frame most convenient to the user. It also provides an arm’s distance method of saying what people won’t say in person.

The downside of email comes from its popularity as a communication medium. Many business people receive hundreds of messages a day, and as a result they live in their email box. It isn’t unusual to find that the software business users are most comfortable with is their email client (most notably Outlook).

Email may be a great way of sharing messages, but it isn’t ideal for sharing files. Most email systems have limits on file sizes that can be problematic when sharing large documents. Document management policies are also frequently circumvented by sharing files via email.

SharePoint has become a popular place to manage documents but the average user is not always comfortable operating in SharePoint. With the introduction of Office 13 there is now a new Exchange and SharePoint feature called Site Mailboxes that addresses this issue for team email and file sharing.

Site Mailboxes

Site Mailboxes let the user live in Outlook but have all the advantages of SharePoint document management. It really blends the best of both worlds into a solution that is easy to implement and use for a team. The idea is to have a central place where teams can share emails and files. The emails are managed by Exchange and the documents are managed by SharePoint.

Site Mailboxes

Picture Courtesy of Exchange Team Technet Blog

You setup a Site Mailbox by adding the Site Mailbox app to your SharePoint 2013 site (see more here). There is a small bit of configuration to link it to Exchange and you are off and running. Anyone who is added to the SharePoint site sees the Site Mailbox in their Outlook folders list.

You drag and drop or send emails to the Site Mailbox and the entire team gets access to them. Documents are stripped off and stored in a SharePoint Document Library. You can access the Document Library from Outlook and drag and drop the documents (links) into new emails.

Benefits of Site Mailboxes

Site Mailboxes give the user a consolidated view of both team email and documents from the comfort of their Outlook. The end user doesn’t have to understand Exchange or SharePoint this is just an extension of the familiar Outlook folder metaphor. The user also has the ability to send an email directly to a Site Mailbox by adding it as an email recipient. The user can “Forward” a link to a document that is stored in SharePoint without ever leaving Outlook.

Site Mailboxes blend the best of Exchange and SharePoint into a seamless solution.

Retention policies can be applied at the Site Mailbox level and behind the scenes the policies are implemented in both Exchange and SharePoint simultaneously. This lessons the burden of implementing policies for IT. Site Mailboxes also encourage the sharing of links versus actual documents which makes managing the documents much easier.

Limitations of Site Mailboxes

To provide a unified view of content across both Exchange and SharePoint the solution is forced to the lowest common denominator. In the case of Site Mailboxes this means that you are sacrificing things like tagging, validation of check-in, renaming files, editing meta-data, and there is no version control. If a document has the same name as a pre-existing document the save simply fails and the user is notified via email.

You also have to keep in mind that both Exchange and SharePoint have to be updated to 2013.

How Do Site Mailboxes Compare?

Site mailboxes act as a central repository for storing team files and emails where the content can be accessed through either Outlook or SharePoint directly. A site mailbox brings emails and documents together in a manner that is efficient and fosters collaboration.

A traditional method of team collaboration with email and documents was using Exchange Managed Folders (a.k.a., Public Folders). The problem with Public Folders is they are available to everyone on the Exchange server. This really didn’t address the team dynamic.

SharePoint 2010 added the ability to configure a discussion list to receive emails. This became a popular replacement to shared folders. SharePoint 2010 also added the ability to strip off document attachments from emails and store them in a separate document library. This provided an easy and efficient method for a team to see all email activity in one place and to have easy access to the files being shared. The problem with this method was you had to go to SharePoint to see what was happening.

Site Mailboxes blend the best of Exchange and SharePoint into a seamless solution.

Six Steps to a Great SharePoint 2013 Search Experience
Six Steps to a Great SharePoint 2013 Search Experience

Six Steps to a Great SharePoint Search Experience

If your users are complaining about SharePoint search and constantly saying they can’t find anything you should consider upgrading to SharePoint 2013. The face of search has been totally redone in SharePoint 2013, and under this new user interface there is a much more powerful architecture.

The issue isn’t whether SharePoint 2013 search is better than previous versions, it is. There are those that will tell you that just upgrading to SharePoint 2013 search out-of-the-box will make your search better. In many cases this may be true, but if you want to create a great search experience you’ll need to go a bit farther than this. Here are a few suggestions to really addressing your user’s concerns:

1. Learn What Users Already Know

If you want to know what your users are complaining about you might try researching the queries that return no results or produce useless results (no clicks). Did you know SharePoint has had the ability to tell you this since 2007?

One of the most underutilized features is SharePoint search analytics. It can tell you what terms are used to search for content, what queries return no results and what queries produce results with no clicks. Knowing this helps you understand the problem you are trying to solve.

Once you arm yourself with this information I would also suggest you invite some of the more vocal naysayers into your planning. Once you get past the noise of their frustration you are likely to find that some of what is being described as a search problem is really a broader SharePoint structural issue (see next section).

2. Organize

The old saying in real estate is location, location, location. We know what we need is in there somewhere but finding it is a nightmare. Don’t just assume another search engine is the solution.

Most of SharePoint started with small workgroups spinning up sites and sharing files. This led to what many refer to as SharePoint Sprawl. If this sounds like your SharePoint environment you’ll need to create better meta-data, classify what exists, and plan a better taxonomy.

Fortunately, there are many tools to the rescue. One of the ones I like the best is Concept Searching’s Smart Content Framework. It is designed to automatically create better meta-data, classify your content and offer suggestions on taxonomy. I suggest you spend as much time thinking about this as trying to get to the next search engine.

3. Teach Search Basics

I still find it amazing that most users don’t know how to use AND to narrow a search or OR to expand it. Concepts we take for granted like using quotes to search for a phrase or using wildcards are not understood by many users.

I recently read a great blog “10 Essential SharePoint Search Hints” by Susan Hanley a SharePoint Consultant. I would strongly recommend checking it out and planning training in this area.

One area I want to emphasize further is doing Property searches. Even users that know the basics often don’t know how to use Properties to search for content in SharePoint. Assuming you’ve taken my second piece of advice above and have begun to plan better meta-data and taxonomy teaching your users to leverage it will go a long ways.

The bottom line is a little training will save you a great deal of heartache later.

4. Search Suggestions & Query Spelling

You can store search queries so users can be more efficient when they frequently use similar queries. You can also pre-populate suggested phrases to get your users started. This is a great way to suggest good search queries to your users.

Don’t assume your users know how to spell turn on spelling suggestions (a.k.a. “Did you mean?”). This will check each query term the user enters to ensure it is spelled correctly. SharePoint comes with a standard dictionary and expands the dictionary for terms that are used frequently. With a little work you can manually expand the dictionary or lower the limit for what is considered frequent.

5. Get familiar with Query Rules and Result Templates

Search Keywords and Best Bets were the easiest way to improve relevance in SharePoint 2010 search results. In SharePoint 2013 Query Rules provide a more powerful method to deduce what the user seeks and present a relevant block of results.

SharePoint 2013’s Result Templates let you control how a search result is displayed. This gives you complete control over the styling of a search result type. For example we create a Search Result Display Template called “Vizit Item” that can be used for putting previews of PDF or TIF documents in the SharePoint 2013 search hover panel.

6. Search Refinement

A simple way to let a user narrow the scope of their search is through Result Sources. SharePoint 2013 comes with a whole host of options in this area, and they can really help a user get a more meaningful search result. For example if you are searching for a person or document, simply using a result source can ensure that only people or documents are shown in the result. Here’s a link to a technet article on the topic.

If you’ve taken my advice and planned meta-data and a taxonomy you can use the crawled meta-data in the refinement panel web part. You can also user the Result Sources in this panel. This is a powerful tool that can be customized to really help users easily narrow search results to what they seek.

Choose Vizit Pro over Adobe Acrobat for SharePoint document reviews
Choose Vizit Pro over Adobe Acrobat for SharePoint document reviews

4 Big Reasons to consider Vizit Pro over Acrobat for SharePoint Document Reviews

When companies move to SharePoint and begin to plan their document review processes we often get asked why use Vizit Pro versus Adobe Acrobat? There are four big reason Vizit Pro offers a superior solution for SharePoint document review workflows.

1. INTEGRATION WITH SHAREPOINT

The most obvious reason to choose Vizit Pro is its tight integration with SharePoint. There are many touch points between the review and the SharePoint library where the document lives. Vizit Pro makes the interaction between these two functions seamless. Let’s explore a few of them:

[headline size=”small” align=”left” color=”5d9732″]Workflow[/headline]Many reviews occur because we are attempting to manage some form of legal or financial risk, as a result they are often required by governance policies. To ensure reviews occur and that a complete audit trail is maintained to prove compliance with these policies most companies turn to workflow. Vizit Pro has several big advantages when it comes to integrating with any SharePoint workflow (native, Nintex, K2, etc.).

First, the workflow can send out a review task that includes a link that opens the document in the Vizit Pro viewer. Workflow actions can also be surfaced in the viewer in the form of buttons that can be added to the user interface using Vizit Pro’s API. Using buttons to trigger workflow actions and events enables the workflow to keep an audit trail of user actions taken during the document review.

All of the annotations created in Vizit are stored as XML data in the SharePoint document package, making it easy for a developer trigger workflow events from the addition of specific annotations (e.g., approve stamp). Vizit Pro maintains an annotation tree which provides a visual representation of the markup history. With Vizit Pro you can achieve a very tight workflow integration and audit trail.

Acrobat’s workflow occurs outside of SharePoint making a tight integration with SharePoint workflow much more challenging.

[headline size=”small” align=”left” color=”5d9732″]Navigating Document Sets & SharePoint Libraries[/headline]
What happens when more than one document needs to be found and reviewed? Vizit Pro includes a navigator panel that enables the user to move from one document to another within a library or document set. Users can also open all of the documents at the same time and move between them using Vizit tabs. Users can navigate to other documents in the library or through documents set without having to leave Vizit Pro’s interface and return to SharePoint.

Often times a traditional document navigator will not be of much help in getting the user to the next document they seek. This may be because the library has too many documents to do traditional navigation or because the document lies beyond the navigator’s view. Vizit Pro solves the problem of large libraries by letting users search using document properties and Boolean logic. By using document properties users are quickly able to locate documents in very large libraries. Users can also use SharePoint search from the Vizit Pro interface to find documents that lie beyond the open SharePoint library.

Acrobat lets users see the contents of a SharePoint library in a traditional file navigator. There is no column, property, or SharePoint search function. Even when a user opens multiple documents from a single library the user experience is challenging as there is no visual indication of other documents being open.

[headline size=”small” align=”left” color=”5d9732″]SharePoint Check-In/Check-Out & Version Control[/headline]How do you deal with two people accessing and reviewing the document at the same time? The SharePoint solution for this is Check-in/Check-out. When a user has a document Checked-out another user cannot change it. When a user edits a SharePoint document in Vizit Pro the document is automatically Checked-Out of the SharePoint library. When they save the document it is checked back in. In Vizit Pro this all happens naturally, as the product is designed to be an extension of SharePoint.

How do you keep track of all of the changes that occur through the review process? The SharePoint answer to this is version control. When a user annotates or marks-up a document using Vizit Pro and saves the changes a new minor version of the document is created automatically. This creates a complete history of all the changes that have occurred through the review process.

Adobe only offers an integration with SharePoint check-in/check-out and version control with Acrobat XI which requires most companies to purchase an expensive upgrade (see price section).

2. SERVER VERSUS CLIENT SOFTWARE

Security and Compliance are significant concerns for many organizations and often a driving force in SharePoint deployments. The theft rate for laptops and other mobile devices has never been higher making most IT organizations keenly aware of the threat of losing control of confidential or other mission critical information. Government regulations such as SOX, GLBA, HIPPA and other regulations have also mandated corporations follow specific measures and auditing practices in protecting customer, patient and employee information. These are often factors when choosing a server versus client solution.

Vizit Pro’s zero footprint deployment ensures all document information is maintained securely at the server. With Acrobat documents must be downloaded onto the client’s device to be reviewed and annotated creating significant security vulnerability and may also create a compliance gap.

3. BROADER FILE FORMAT SUPPORT

Vizit supports several hundred file formats (see Vizit Supported Formats). Acrobat only supports one format, PDF. This may seem trivial on the surface as PDF is a widely accepted format, but there are two related considerations that should not be ignored. The first consideration is discussed above, using client software to view PDF documents creates security and compliance concerns that are not easily dismissed.

Another significant consideration is SharePoint’s support of PDF, or lack thereof. SharePoint 2013 provides no support for PDF. In fact it makes reviewing PDF documents more difficult than standard Office formats by not supporting PDF in the preview callout. SharePoint 2013 provides no way to go from a SharePoint list or search result directly to a preview or view of a PDF document without first downloading the document and launching a client based PDF viewer. It even inhibits the browser from displaying a view of the document using an extension. To overcome this lack of support organizations often turn to third party add-ons like Vizit.

4. PRICE

One last thing to consider when looking at Vizit Pro versus Acrobat Pro is price. Vizit Pro’s list price is half that of Acrobat Pro. Vizit also offers volume discounts that will save you significant money at every price tier.

How do documents fit into SharePoint Social Search?

When most people think about social search they think of searching for people or conversations. Much of what Microsoft has sold us as social search is exactly that. If you do a search in SharePoint 2013 the refinement right under the search box asks you what you seek: Everything, People, Conversations, or Video. Don’t you find it odd that documents aren’t a default? I might not think this as odd if it weren’t SharePoint, but didn’t most people start out using SharePoint to store and share their documents? I think it is funny that finding a document or email isn’t a primary SharePoint search refinement. I guess they are sort of “everything” in many SharePoint implementations.

SharePoint 2013 Search Refinement Another thing I find strange is that we are encouraged in SharePoint 2013 search to find documents by first finding the person who wrote them. I’ve been conditioned to look for documents by topic or name more than by author.

SharePoint 2013 People Search Hover Panel

I tend to find people by first finding interesting content. Many of the people I’ve met in the SharePoint world I met through reading a blog or attending a webinar and then meeting them at a SharePoint event. One of the things I always loved about SharePoint Saturdays was being able to interact with the people delivering all the interesting sessions.

One of the things I always loved about SharePoint Saturdays was being able to interact with the people delivering all the interesting sessions.

So what is social search? If you ask this question in the SharePoint community what you are likely to get is it’s a SharePoint search for people expertise or social conversation threads? This is pretty much what Microsoft has been conditioning us to believe. My experience is that content plays a pretty big role in the social universe and this thought process wouldn’t do it justice. Fortunately, Wikipedia comes to the rescue with this definition:

Social search or a social search engine is a type of web search that takes into account the Social Graph of the person initiating the search query. When applied to web search this Social-Graph approach to relevance is in contrast to established algorithmic or machine-based approaches where relevance is determined by analyzing the text of each document or the link structure of the documents[1]. Search results produced by social search engine give more visibility to content created or touched by users in the Social Graph.”

Now this makes sense to me. A search should take into consideration who I am and what connections I have, and how this impacts relevance related to my search. Whether I’m trying to find a document or a person my existing relationships probably are very relevant.

It feels like we’re trying to swing the SharePoint universe around and make it social first and document management second.

Last year we conducted a study of over 1,200 organizations asking them a variety of questions about how they use SharePoint. We asked them some pointed questions about how they were using search. We found that almost 70% of the time when they searched for content they weren’t looking for documents or files. They were looking for something deeper, a key passage or exhibit. When they found these items close to 60% of the time what they intended to do next was share them with their co-workers. We believe SharePoint search needs to do a better job helping users find these key passages and exhibits. To do this SharePoint search needs to find information at this level and then create relationships between the documents, people, and conversations where it is used.

Our belief is that for enterprise social search to advance it has to find content at the level users are consuming it. Ask yourself, when you deal with a document do you read it or skim it? What stimulated your interest in it in the first place? Did you learn about it because someone shared a key passage or exhibit, or did you set out to find a document to read? Most people only search for documents and go beyond skimming when something has peaked their interest. That something is usually a key passage or exhibit that someone related to me has already found. If this is how we consume information shouldn’t search help us find it this way? When I think about where documents fit in social search this is what I’m thinking.