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This is a draft in progress.

Discussion about file management and what components might emerge.

File Management Definition

File Management is a broad term with a variety of definitions.  For scoping and discussion purposes we define file management as overall user-management of files.  The files are generally uploaded into the target web application from a user's personal computer or another website or application.  Users can then organize their files, typically represented navigationally or spatially.   They may decide to share these files with others, either as information (read-only) or in a more collaborative manner. 

Problem/Pain

The Resources Tool in Sakai tries to do too much.  It is the file manager within a site, the place for all site members to view files in a variety of contexts, the place users can pull files from other sites into the current site -- it even allows users to create links and in-line documents.  Basically, it does so much that it is very difficult to know how to do anything.  It is the "stretch armstrong" of tools.  General consensus is that the functionality needs to be chunked in different ways and the UI generally simplified.  The Resources Tool is also challenged by several usability issues for specific interactions.   Those details will be fleshed out through the work of this project.  For some examples, check out Allison's UX Walkthrough which focused on the Resources tool.

 File management is a common activity and user's have expectations based on their experience with their personal computers and the desktop metaphor.

Scenarios

Sarah Windsor - Primary Persona

Getting course site set-up
Sarah needs to set her course site up for the semester.  She begins gathering the course materials -- the syllabus which needs some updating from last time she taught the class, readings for various topics / class sessions (docs, pdfs, websites, etc.), some assignments she'll be reusing from a previous class along with her handy list of useful links she likes students to have.   Now she needs to get the material onto her course site.  After the site is created, she needs to upload all of this material and would like it to be mapped to her syllabus.

She asks her 3 Teaching Assistants to gather and upload material for several topics on the syllabus.  They'll do that over a stretch of several weeks. In addition, Sara continues to appropriate course materials throughout the semester.  Sometimes this will be an addition and other times she'll have found a replacement for something already on the site.

Sharing files across courses 

Sarah would like to use some of the class material from a previous class she taught.  She had a Sakai site for that class too so would like to reuse some of the materials in the class site.  There are several assignments that she can reuse as-is and a couple that she wants to make minor tweaks to before using in the new class.  Many of the readings are the same.  She can even reuse the syllabus with some minor tweaks.  Perhaps she needs to browse the old site to see what else might be of use.

Display syllabus content in-line 

Sarah has already created her syllabus.  It's currently a pdf.  She would like the content of the pdf to be displayed on the page when students visit the Syllabus tool.

More scenarios to come...

 

Ed McClellan, Undergraduate

Collaborating on a file

Ed and his project team are in the final stretch -- they just need to pull together their various pieces of the final paper and then Heather will do the final edit.  The plan is for everyone to upload their pieces to the project site.  After all 5 sections are uploaded, Heather will pull them all together (copy & paste) and do a final edit to put it all in one voice and check for spelling and grammatical errors.

More scenarios to come...

Andrew Devall, Principle Investigator Research Project 

Collaborating on presentation 

Andrew and his colleagues are creating a project update presentation to share with their department.  They worked on the outline together and uploaded to their project site.  Now they'll each take their section to flesh out with details.  The presentation is in 3 weeks so they'll work on it at various times over the next few weeks.  They want to work on the same document so they don't have merging challenges later on.  The current challenge then will be to make sure they are always working on the most current file on the site (current version) and that two people aren't working on the file at the same time.

Confidential Information 

Andrew has a document he'd like to share with Stacy and Greg on the project team.  For confidentiality purposes he is not allowed to share it with the rest of the team yet but eventually probably will. 

More scenarios to come... 

Blue Sky Vision

*Random Thoughts*

  • Personal file manager available from anywhere in application.  Main home is probably within My Workspace.
  • The file manager allows users to view their files in a navigation or spatial view; with details and without
  • User can drag and drop into, out of and within.  
  • Tagging for files allows users to find files via their tags and others tags.  They can search or browse by previous tags (a.k.a. tag cloud).  Standard known metadata could be auto-tagged.  System knows the difference between my tag and others tags.
  • Robust search that not only searches meta-data tags but also document content.  It should be simple by default (think Google) but allow users define searches at a fairly granular level.

Possible Components

File Uploader

Allow users to upload files directly into their file manager and in the context of other activities or working in other tools.  While creating a wiki page, allow the user to upload a file.  The file should then be accessible from within that same context and from their file manager.  

Questions:

  • How does synching work?  If user accesses the file from within the tool and makes changes,  

File Management Views

a.k.a Mac Finder or Windows Explorer

Allow users to have several views on their files.  Sometimes a hieararchical tree and folder structure will work best and others user will want to see the items spatially.  Allow users to "drag and drop" files around for organization (reorganizer component).

File Manager

Rather than views described above is there a component that includes more robust functionality like search,  add & delete files, etc?

File Management Fleshing Out at Summit meeting

  • Getting files in
    • create / retain linkages
    • upload once, use in multiple locations -- sometimes should remain "as one file", sometimes new location is the base of something new
    • upload many at once - making web-dav easier -- bookmarklet (delicious one click to add files to my space)
    • Upload happens in context of other activities / workflows
    • Upload to general file space
    • Connections between file space and in context
    • assign information important to me about my files (context, tags, etc.)
  • Organization of my files (personal resource management)
    • manipulating
    • rearranging
    • slicing them up in various ways -- make structure match use (by topic for course for instance)
  • Sharing files as information (read-only)
    • across my course, across courses or projects, between courses and projects
    • with certain groups of people in specific contexts
      • subset or site participants
      • group of people not associated with sites and/or system (not logged in)
    • I decide how I share -- rules for sharing -- how & when
  • System representation of a file
    • how is it displayed to me
    • how it is displayed to others
    • what other information it shows me about the file (metadata, tags, auto-tags -- what course have I used it in, when last updated, etc.)
  • Collaboration 
    • I "own" the file versus share ownership / management with others

 Design Goals

  • System understands how I think about files and handles them appropriately
    • View images as thumbnails
    • Hiearchical and detail views of files
    • Display file contents in-line on page
  • Performance
    • If I can do it quicker outside the system than I will
    • File organization on the desktop
    • Web-dav performance issues
    • Web-dav getting started requirements overwhelming

 Next Steps

  • Talk to users
  • Flesh out use cases for problem spaces
  • Identify Components and prioritize
  • Choose 1 or 2 and form multi-disciplinary team around them
  • No labels