Filr 4.1: A Quick Look At Online Editing

Later this year, scheduled for October, a new release of Filr is planned, version 4.1.  This will include a number of  new features and changes.  The new user interface, though still not complete, has advanced significantly since the current release, but the star new feature will be the built-in Secure Online Editing capabilities.  I was lucky enough to get an early beta of the product for evaluation.  Please remember that some of the features and dialogs mentioned in this article may well change before the final release.

There are a number of advantages to online editing above the existing document editing capabilities that we have:

  • You can edit a file from any platform, web, mobile or desktop.  You do not need any editor installed locally; it is all done through a browser.
  • Multiple users can edit the same file at the same time.
  • The file remains in your data centre and it is not pulled down in its entirety.  All that is transferred to the workstation’s memory is the visible part of the document.
  • There are Data Leak/Loss Prevention (DLP) options that can be set to help protect the security of your documents.

Online Editing will only be delivered as part of Filr Advanced.  If you currently have Filr Standard, as for example your entitlement through your Open Enterprise Server maintenance, there are options to upgrade to Advanced.  Certainly, with this new functionality, and the existing extra features, there is now a very strong incentive to move to the Advanced version.

Online Editing Appliance

The online editing capabilities will be delivered as a separate appliance using the standard Micro Focus Appliance framework.  The initial configuration of this is much the same as any other Filr appliance; add a couple of disks, boot the disk and set the network etc.  The virtual appliance administration screen will be familiar to Filr administrators, albeit it with a new configuration option for Online Editing (see fig. 1).

When selecting this option, you are prompted for the WOPI host,  which is the Filr Appliance.  When clicking the Submit option the address you have entered is checked for communication, and you will not be able to save it if it is not a running Filr web appliance.

44-1-LoolConfig
Figure 1: Setting the WOPI host on the Online Editing Appliance

Filr configuration

The configuration from the Filr side is done from the Administration Console. There is a new option for Online Editing in the left-hand menu.  Selecting this gives a number of options.  The main one is the Server URL, which is the address of the Online Editing Appliance.  There is an option to test the connection and confirm that it can connect successfully.

44-2-FilrConfig
Figure 2: Enabling online editing in the Filr Administration Console

There are a number of policy options that can be set.  Bear in mind that these are global options that will affect all access.  These include options to disable the printing of documents and Disable Copy which will ensure that the users can’t copy data outside of the document.  The Enable Watermark will add a background watermark of the user’s email address to the background of the document.  If there is no email address then the user id is used.  This means that if a user does a screen shot or takes a photo of the screen then there is a trail back to them.

Once successfully configured the new user interface will display a Secure edit option when you left click on a file, if it is a supported format, (See figure 3).  This will launch the online editor and open the document for you.  Depending on the policies selected you will be able to edit the file (see figure 4).

44-3-New UI
Figure 3: The new UI with the secure edit option.
44-4-editing
Figure 4: Online editing, showing the watermark and internal copy only

Multiple users will be able to edit the file at the same time.  Users will be able to see what other users are doing as they do it, character by character, if it is in the part of the document being displayed.

When the file is saved the file will be updated on the back end server.

Future plans

On the current roadmap there are plans to expand the DLP options to be more granular than just global settings.  It is probable that in future these options can be set on folders and down to individual files.  With the planned content analysis capabilities this will mean that you can configure the system to set these automatically; for instance, that any file with Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is flagged, to prevent compromise.

Conclusion

Online editing will add significantly to the capabilities of Filr, and will really make it come of age, moving it from file access and sharing into a true collaboration product.  If you would like to test the online editing before it is available, it is likely that there will be a beta nearer the release date.  If you cannot wait that long then do get in touch with your local Micro Focus representative and we can set up a demonstration for you.

 

This article was first published in OH Magazine, Issue 44, 2019.2,  p32-33

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