Why is document sharing in OneDrive for Business so overly complicated?

November 4, 2016

document-sharing

Technology is a prime example of our ability to quickly adopt things that are extremely complicated. The capability and complexity of the latest iPad is far beyond what most of us can understand from a technical standpoint, and yet children of an early age can navigate and use them with relative ease—it’s an example of complexities being masked by an intuitive, enjoyable user interface.

But we can also be very resistant to situations in which complications are staring us in the face. After weighing up whether these challenges are worth the amount of effort required, overly complicated software may lead to us cutting our losses and giving up.

So what of the complications involved in document sharing? In theory, document sharing (or co-editing) is intended to simplify the process of colleagues working on different sections of a large document. In reality, however, this is sometimes a complication too far.

Collaboration conflicts with document sharing

Document sharing is not without its own complexities. Let’s say you are in the office: you’ve selected a document and invited a colleague or two to edit that file together. While you are all working on your respective sections of the document in Word, Microsoft will keep you informed of any changes that are made, synchronising them automatically.

So what of OneDrive for Business in this scenario? Well, this is where complications can arise. The version of the document you are working on is not the one in the Cloud that you opened in a browser, but the local version that OneDrive for Business synchronised to your computer. This means that straying into an area of the document being edited by a colleague will put you at risk of creating conflicts (and all the complications that come with them).

Not we’re not suggesting that it’s altogether impossible to resolve created conflicts—it’s just, difficult, shall we say. Nobody wants to hear their documents are ‘conflicted’; as it suggests you’re in danger of losing your work. From what we’ve seen many a time, is people attempting to resolve their conflicted copies several times, while also creating another, separate file to ensure their work isn’t lost. Resulting in long-term pain and trying to put together old and new document versions later on. It’s a time-consuming process, but considerably shorter than losing everything you’ve worked on and starting the entire thing all over again.

Reliability issues with document sharing

Document sharing within Word is one suggested method around these issues. However, it’s a scenario where the lack of symmetry between Word and OneDrive for Business rears its ugly head again. If OneDrive for Business synchronisation has been paused, then selecting document sharing in Word will result in the software advising you that you must save that version to the cloud to carry on sharing files. Where in the cloud, exactly? Well, to exactly the same place it is already located. As counterintuitive as this may seem, when OneDrive sync is paused, Word gets confused and attempts to set up an alternative link to a shared cloud location.

And this confusion becomes especially frustrating if you have a pressing need to work on your files. If OneDrive for Business is paused—be it due to an unreliable Internet connection or wanting to make changes in your own time—you are going to have to work on that document in isolation. As a result, when OneDrive resumes and tries to upload your changes, you will be left with conflicting copies of your document.

Sync how you want to sync

The ability collaboration has in terms of getting teams working better together is undeniable. For such collaboration to be effective, however, it helps to be able to keep on top of what your colleagues are doing.

With Easier365 you’re able to make changes to your own local synchronised copy of the document without added complication. So, if you make changes while your colleagues are out of the office, they’ll get them. If your colleagues make changes while you are at lunch, you’ll get them. And if you both happen to make changes at the same time, the software will download your colleague’s changes automatically and allow you to compare changes side by side. You can then accept or reject the changes, or merge all changes into the same file. You’re in control, not the technology.

Like SharePoint, Easier365 supports local versioning and will safely version any overwritten changes in a separate location, making older file copies available for restoration if you ever need them

For those that already use the shared document features of Word 2016—by accident or design—Easier365 won’t change how file sharing works. It can work in the background letting you do your thing while still offering full control over your files. The choice is up to you.

 

Try Easier365 today to see if it can help you overcome the complications with document sharing in OneDrive for Business – download your free, 30-day trial right now!


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