Monday, April 14, 2008

OneNote - Sharing documents

There used to be a problem here at work. We didn't managed to share documents properly. We tried lots of methods, till we finally checked OneNote. You can easily tag information, and search for this quickly, and can even insert printouts into notebooks.

I was thinking that being in a company, the sharing documents feature is a request so i took a look over the capabilities of that software. Here are the simplest 3 ways of sharing documents between all:

A. You can create a OneNote notebook that’s enabled for sharing. You can then put this notebook on a Windows share on your network. Then you can open this notebook from the share on multiple machines, and each OneNote instance on a machine will figure out how to sync with this version on the network share. Each OneNote instance creates a local copy of the notebook and periodically syncs it’s local copy with the network copy. It’s constantly doing a diff, to figure out what change, and then committing those changes. It’s super easy to setup, and it works great!

B. You can tell OneNote to create a new shared notebook on your machine. OneNote will then create the notebook, and then create a network share automatically for that notebook and expose it to the network! Very easy too. The difference between this approach and the first is that in this case, the network share is on your machine, and in #1 the share is on a different machine.

C. The last approach is very cool as well. You can start a Live Sharing session in OneNote, and allow other OneNote users on the network interactively edit your notebook with you! They don’t have to have a copy of the notebook on their machines either! You just start a Live Sharing session and OneNote takes care of the rest… it starts a sharing server on a port, and opens a hole in the firewall. Then on the other machine, you simply connect to a live sharing session on the first machine (by providing it’s WINS name or IP address) and you are good to go! It works brilliantly! When you are done with your sharing session, a local copy is left on the remote machine, which you can work with locally! You can reconnect to the live sharing session later, etc. This is brilliant! What a great use of P2P technology! I’m surprised Microsoft doesn’t advertise this feature more.

OneNote is very helpfully if you want to manage lots of fluid information that must be persisted and replicated reliably, without having to copy files, and run cron jobs, or know how to use SVN and setup a SVN server.

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