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One of the more powerful features of the ACS Network is that around collaboration on documents.  I am going to use this post to explain how you can create and edit documents together now and how the experience will improve later this summer.





Let’s start first with definitions:

  1. Type: A document can be one of two types --one that you write online or one that you upload.



The online document is essentially a wiki document. You write the document in a browser window. There is an online editor which allows you to format the text (bold, italics, bullets, etc.) as well as insert an image, or a table, or even a video.






A document file that you upload  is really any file that you want to share via the Network. I can obviously be a MS Word document or an Excel spreadsheet, but it can also be an image, a PDF, or almost any other downloadable document.







  1. Tags: Remember to tag your document. This will help you organize your documents and for people to find them more easily.


  1. Place: Currently your document has to reside somewhere, and that can be in a forum or a group. Later this summer, after we upgrade the system, you will be able to add to have “private” documents that are only associated with your profile and that only you (and whoever you designate) can see.  (Click on the image below to see a larger version showing how locations might show up for you).





Once you create (or download) your document you can collaborate with others. You can manage collaborations or versions through the links in the Action Box.



Manage collaboration allows you to set who else you want to be able to work on your document and if you want people to be able to comment on it.


Manage versions, allows you can capture a new version anytime a change is made to the document. You  then can compare versions or revert to an earlier version.  The comparison of versions of an online document is very powerful as you can see two versions side-by-side with green highlights indicating information added, and red highlights indicating deleted items. 









Here are some examples of how you might collaborate on a document.

  1. You create a document and tell a group about it. They come in and make comments below and make changes to the document. At the end of a certain period of time, you close off the document so only you can edit and comments can no longer be made.
  2. You might have an event that you capture some minutes or other information. You embed an image and some comments. Another person at the event has another image and comments. They can either enter a comment at the bottom and insert their picture, or they can insert their picture in the original document, add some text, then put a comment at the bottom to let folks know of the changes.





Finally, collaborating on documents will only improve after our upcoming upgrade.  Many downloaded documents (word, excel, etc) will be able to be viewed in the browser without actually having to download it. Users reviewing your document can insert inline comments as well. 


Look for this functionality coming up later this summer.





Mark Obrien

Email Alerts

Posted by Mark Obrien Jun 1, 2010

One of my favorite features on the ACS Network is email alerts.  Email alerts are email messages that are sent to your email in-box when new content is posted on the Network.  The email alert identifies the person who contributed content, the forum or group where the content was posted and the actual discussion, comment or document (link) that was posted in the Network. Email alerts help you stay connected with the latest discussions without having to log on to the Network.  But here’s the best part, you can hit reply to the email and your response will automatically be posted on the ACS Network.  This functionality is native to the ACS Network, so you can respond to alerts using your preferred email application including your mobile devices (e.g. Blackberry, iPhone,etc).





You can set alerts to follow specific discussions or choose to follow all discussions in the groups or forums of your choice. Simply click on the “Receive email notification” link in the "Actions" box that appears on each page to toggle your preference to Receive or Stop email notifications.  



email notifications.png

As a network administrator, I receive lots of alerts. So, I've set up a rules in Outlook to automatically move my ACS Network email alerts to an ACS Network folder.   The rule that I set up looks for email when it arrives from communities@acs.organd moves it to an ACS Network Communities folder in Outlook. 

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