Article

What Is a Document?

Posted:
July 28, 2016

For a company specializing in document management, you would think the concept of a “document” would be consistent, clear, and precise.

Instead, what we see across our customer base is a variety of interpretations of what makes a “document,” limited only by WebDocs’ insistence upon a discrete file format with a document title and type and index key data. Understanding the reasons for this variety allows you to define “document” in an informed way for your own projects.

Documents in WebDocs

Because document versioning is basic to WebDocs, customers can choose to have one updated document with archived versions, or they can choose to treat each new version as a distinct, separate document. The latter situation is useful when historical versions need to be cited frequently, as is the case with workplace procedure documents or annually-updated HR forms. Depending on their choice, users end up managing one always up-to-date document or multiple historical versions of their documents.

Instead of keeping individual documents filed separately, some customers take the opposite approach and merge seemingly different files into a single “document.” A single WebDocs document could include a purchase order (PO), customer correspondence, shipping documents, and an invoice—all as a single file!

While this works for some, we generally recommend the more conventional approach of storing each document separately and assigning index key data.

Index Key Data in WebDocs

Assigning index key data to documents attaches little chunks of metadata to a stored document, allowing the software to quickly locate the document when searched. By storing each document separately and assigning index key data, a search for a particular term—such as an invoice number or customer name—will return all documents related to the indexed term. Index keys, titles, and document types replace the need for deeply nested folder structures and allow users to immediately find the documents they need.

How a user stores and accesses documents depends on what type of file is being stored as a “document.” The index information that WebDocs retains is not intended to replace the contents of the document. Instead, it’s intended to provide adequate means for finding the document, which can then be opened to review its full contents.

If only a few pieces of information are needed from the document, these details can be stored as index key data to provide an at-a-glance view. However, more comprehensive questions (about contract stipulations or itemized discounts, for example) require a perusal of the document contents.

There are a few cases where the index key data is all that matters. This is most commonly seen when a customer is migrating from an older, outdated solution to WebDocs, and the outdated software did not require or permit document storage. For example, a stored document might simply be a stub—a small text file, for instance—with no useful information in and of itself. In this instance, the document stub serves as an anchor for a set of metadata that the company wishes to track and treat as a unit.

Document Size in WebDocs

Most documents are 10-50 KB and are stored as PDFs or TIFs. Many are generated digitally (either locally or via email from clients) or are scanned on location and then uploaded. Generally, documents tend to be consistent in size, allowing system administrators to predict future disk usage by simple extrapolation. But some users store documents that vary in size and require more storage space. For instance, one customer stores raw video data with files between one and two GB in size. No matter what your needs require, or how you define or store a “document,” WebDocs has flexible options for storing and accessing your files.

Learn More

Now you have a better understanding of what can constitute a document in WebDocs. As you can see, there are many kinds of documents, all of which, regardless of file size or type, can be easily searched for, accessed and used according to your own unique needs.

 

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