By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2005-08-08 Print this article Print

Although Xythos Enterprise Document Management Suite 5.0 emphasizes easy user interfaces and simple and quick deployment, we were impressed with the products broad, capable features. Document Management Suite doesnt measure up to high-end document management solutions such as Documentum or FileNet Corp.s FileNet, but it will provide nearly all the capabilities most companies need for document management.

Using the intuitive and flexible browser-based UI, we were able to easily find and edit a wide variety of documents, share them with co-workers and create capable workflow processes for our documents. It is also possible to integrate the Xythos product with corporate user directories and basic corporate storage infrastructures. However, like DocumentMall and many other document and content management products, Enterprise Document Management Suite works fully only with IE.

The Xythos product is built on standards-based technologies, and the server will run with most leading Web servers, J2EE (Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition) application servers and relational databases. The default installation (which we used for our tests) loads with the Tomcat application server and the PostgreSQL database.

Click here to read eWEEK Labs review of Ricohs DocumentMall. Pricing for Enterprise Document Management Suite 5.0 begins at $45,000 for 250 users, dropping to $31 per user when an organization licenses 10,000 users.

The installation and setup were fairly simple. The Xythos application can use both LDAP and Active Directory for user access, but administrators must choose to enable these options during installation, not afterward. The product also has a built-in user directory that can be used instead of Active Directory or LDAP.

To set up the backup storage option, we just pointed to a mapped network drive or attached storage device. The sparse but capable browser-based administration interface let us easily configure server settings, define users and groups, and view detailed system logs.

The products main UI can easily become busy, with a lot of content and options visible, but the interfaces inherently good design never left us feeling overwhelmed or cluttered. We could easily view all folders and documents to which we had access, create useful bookmarks that let us jump directly to specific content or content another user was sharing, carry out searches using a wide variety of criteria, and view all related workflows and tasks.

However, some task interfaces werent up to the level of the main interface. For example, once we selected a document or folder, we could lock it, delete it, manage it or share it. During tests, we felt that the last two options should have been combined, as many of the manage options directly relate to sharing.

From the manage option, we could create workflows for our documents, which proved simple but powerful. From the standard "create workflow" option, we could define the workflow as serial or parallel, whether e-mail alerts should be sent at each stage of the workflow, and which users would participate and whether they were approvers or referrers. We could also define due dates and how long each task should take. More complex workflows can be created in the suites developer tool or manually in XML.

With the share option, we could define permission rights to a document for groups and users, and we could also create tickets that set expiration dates for content and could require a password to view content.

Content can be uploaded directly from the browser interface or through applications that support WebDAV (Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning). By default, the Xythos application uses the Web Folders feature in IE.

Another useful way in which content can be managed is through the Windows-based Xythos Drive application. When loaded onto a system, it creates a virtual drive from which users can access content on the document management system. Best of all, this can be configured to synchronize content for offline use.

Among the many good collaboration features in Enterprise Document Management Suite is a very nice subscriptions feature. Using this feature, we could choose to receive a notification whenever specific content was viewed, edited or commented on by another user.

Next page: Evaluation Shortlist: Related Products.

Jim Rapoza, Chief Technology Analyst, eWEEK.For nearly fifteen years, Jim Rapoza has evaluated products and technologies in almost every technology category for eWEEK. Mr RapozaÔÇÖs current technology focus is on all categories of emerging information technology though he continues to focus on core technology areas that include: content management systems, portal applications, Web publishing tools and security. Mr. Rapoza has coordinated several evaluations at enterprise organizations, including USA Today and The Prudential, to measure the capability of products and services under real-world conditions and against real-world criteria. Jim Rapoza's award-winning weekly column, Tech Directions, delves into all areas of technologies and the challenges of managing and deploying technology today.

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