Working with online documents means
that local files frequently need to be
uploaded for sharing, or downloaded to
be used for local processing. Files may be
extremely large, which can cause problems
with transmission (delivery) in terms of
speed and network usage. To reduce this
problem, fi les have to be compressed (i.e.
reduced in size) before transmission and
then expanded after transmission. A
common method of doing this is to
convert them to zip fi les (.zip format).
Zip files are basically stores of data files which may
have been compressed. There are many different
algorithms for doing the compression – with most
compression software supporting several of these. The
last item in a zip file is an index, which shows the
placement of each of the data files and allows other
files to be added. Quite often the zip file will also
contain some program code (a sequence of
instructions) to allow the files within the zip file to be
unzipped (known as self-extracting files). There is a wide
range of software available for zipping files, with one of
the most popular being WinZip.
introduction: Online documents (such as text
documents, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics
and forms) are any documents that are held on a
computer but can be accessed, edited and shared
from anywhere. Services which allow this include Live
Documents, Microsoft ® Office ® Live and Google™
advantages of using online software
The biggest advantage of using online document
software is that you can allow many people to share a
version of a document and work on it at the same time
as other people (known as collaborative working). You
can also access content:
Online documents can also have
automatic backup. Backing up files means
that you save a copy of the file at a known
point in time. This means that you can
always go back to that version if you lose
or corrupt the present version.
Some software programs will automatically make a copy of the file
you have open and are working on at set time intervals. In Microsoft ®
Word ® you can set how often you would like the fi le to automatically
backup (every 30 minutes, every 60 minutes, etc). Automatic backup of
online documents is just an extension of this concept.
Controls over online documents
Version control is important when users are sharing documents
online, as all users need to be working from the most up-to-date
version of the same document. One of the simplest ways of
implementing version control is to allow just one user to open a
document, or part of the document, for update at any one time.
When one user has the document open and someone else tries to
access it, the document will be locked . It is only unlocked when the
original user has completed updating the fi le and has closed it again.
Other methods of version control include the software allocating the latest version number showing
the time and identity of the person making the changes. If, for any reason, a document does
become corrupt (damaged) or is missing important updates, it is possible to roll back to a commonly
agreed version number.
Levels of access and file permissions The
system administrator within an
organisation can control the levels of
access users have to a particular
document. They can allocate access to
individuals or particular groups of
documents by using fi le permissions .
Some users may only be able to read
documents but not edit them. Other
users may be allowed to read and edit
documents some may be allowed to add
new documents and some will be
allowed to delete documents. File
permissions can be used to restrict
access to certain documents and to
restrict what can be done to them. An
example within an accountancy business
is shown in Figure 1.3 on page 10.
Read-only access. This allows a user to look at and read a document but not to change it. A university
lecturer could use a Word® document to create a test for their class, if the document was set as
‘read-only’ then the class would not be able to make any changes to the wording.
Read/Write access. This allows a user to
look at and read a document, but also to
make changes to it. •
Full control. This allows users to retrieve a document, read it, edit it, add a new document or
delete or archive an existing document. Full control is usually given to people who administer the
system. They may be senior people within the organisation or senior administrators who report
directly to senior management.