Microsoft Sharepoint: collaborating on documents

2007-11-14 17:17:00

A dutch translation of this page, can be found here, on my Wiki.

During my second semester at Hogeschool Utrecht I got into my first group assignment. The five of us had to work together on a project for Kijk op Leerlingen 1, which is a course focussing on student identity and psychology.

School expects us to store all of our reports and materials on a dedicated Sharepoint site. Now, you know that when multiple people start working on the same documents, that things are going to get messy. So in order to prevent mayhem, I've created a short HOWTO for my project buddies.

Making sure you don't work on the same thing, at the same time.

With software like Sharepoint it's very easy to start mixing up versions of documents. For example, let's say that both Badegul and Arjan have downloaded the file called Foobar.doc. Both of them are making changes to the document on their own computers. First Arjan uploads the new document to Sharepoint. Then Badegul does the same.

Now there's a problem! Because all the work that Arjan has done, has now been overwritten by Badegul's document. All of his work is lost. Of course, it's still stored on his own computer, but that's besides the point.

In order to prevent multiple people from working on the same document, at the same time, here are some simple rules. All of this is explained in the video below.

  1. Never continue working from a document on your computer. Always download a new version from Sharepoint.
  2. Before you start working on the document, use the "checkout" command.
  3. The only one who can make changes to the Sharepoint version of the document, is the one who checked out the file.
  4. After you're done working on the document, upload a new version.
  5. After uploading the new file, "checkin" the file so others can work on it.
  6. If a document is already checked out, DO NOT start working on it! Contact the person who's checked out the document, to see when he/she is done with it.

One of the risks in working this way is that one person can keep a file locked indefinitely. So please, keep an eye out! If you're done working for now, please upload your file and check it in. Don't keep a document checked out, unless you're really working on it.

Click here to open or download the movie.

What if you need to work on the same document together?

If you're in a situation where multiple people need to work on the same document, then things get interesting.

Put one person in charge of the document; this is the person who'll do the checkout and checkin. Now everyone can start working, BUT with one difference. The person in charge has the document itself. All the others only send their -changes- to this person. Thus, they tell the person in charge exactly what needs to be changed and where.

The person in charge then gathers all the changes into the main document and uploads the new version to Sharepoint. tags: , , ,

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