Christine Brennan Schmidt

Using Documents to Collaborate on the Network

Blog Post created by Christine Brennan Schmidt on Jun 21, 2010

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.