Topic: Does CloudMe (free) offer File Locking? (So users don't over-write...)

Hi

Pre-sales question: Is CloudMe (free) suitable for collaboration projects? Specifically does it do file-locking? (whereby a user can see if a file is already being edited by another users). Can users get read-only access so that they can VIEW a file if another user is editing it?

Also is there a limit to the number of collaborators?


Background
There are about 10 of us working on a project. It is a small project and we only need say 1GB of disk space if that. We have a near zero budget. We are all part time volunteers. We have tried the popular DropBox.com however it does not do file locking and the best we can do is to rename each file (e.g. to the format XXXX_being_edited_by_Fred...) but this painful...

We don't want to install new applications like this  before doing due diligence either, partly because the Windows Registry is likely to get bloated and error prone.

- Any suggestions?
J

Re: Does CloudMe (free) offer File Locking? (So users don't over-write...)

Hi J,

This is an interesting suggestion. We do not currently do file locking, CloudMe will however save each edited version and keep all prior revisions for the past 60 days (can be restored with the help of trashcan icon).

You can share the same folder two times, if shared as a pure WebShare it is read only, if shared as a Collaboration folder, people will be able to edit, delete and update its contents.

It wont be perfect for you, but partly solves the problem.

Best, CloudMe Support

Re: Does CloudMe (free) offer File Locking? (So users don't over-write...)

This is still no good because people can VERY easily over-write each other's work.

I understand that a couple of CloudMe competitors are working on this area on their free versions (e.g. copy.com and TeamDrive.com to name two). Nobody seems to be sure what the best way to implement collaboration is. Possibly some form of checkin/checkout system would work well. Either way it needs to work when connectivity is slow and unreliable. I think users need to get used to SOME level of conflicts, but what DropBox has (i.e. not designed whatsoever with collaboration in mind is a disaster for most of us!)

Re: Does CloudMe (free) offer File Locking? (So users don't over-write...)

You are right, there is no easy solution to this. We will start to think about how we can solve this and put it into our long term development plan. There will not be a quick fix to enable file locking.

Meanwhile, the best solution is probably to create multiple version of a file with a file date and initials of the person editing the document as the work in progress version, while others are reading the version with initials in the end.

It is not as elegant, but gets the job done using a convention. It wont just enforce the convention in a team.

Best, CloudMe

Re: Does CloudMe (free) offer File Locking? (So users don't over-write...)

Sorry, but no!

No, it is NOT acceptable where users are going to need to do lots of small edits, particularly if the user technically not very minded (and can't see the scale of the problem!)

This may not be possible with CloudMe technology, however from the user perspective I think what we need is "Soft Locking" - due to system lags there would inevitably be situations where conflicts occur. I think users will have to live with this. But the current situation with CloudMe (and the mighty DropBox) of having no protection from over-writing is disastrous.

From a user perspective here is how I would do it:

1. CloudMe needs to allow someone to check a file out - much like taking a book out of the library - and to KEEP it checked out even if they then go off-line. I think that is the main thing that is needed.

2. And if you start editing a file while you are currently off-line:
A) This should be possible although you should first be warned that it can not soft-lock that file,

B) as soon as you then become online, the system should attempt to soft-lock that file and it should tell you either way. And before soft-locking it should check to see if the file has been changed (or soft-locked) by anyone since your original copy was taken.

C) If you are off-line and start editing an (un-soft-locked), then as soon as you come back on line, if someone has edited your file while you were off line, you should be told immediately and the system should suggest a new temporary (conflict-type) filename to save with.

AND when the client has user-focus it needs to poll the central database occasionally to see if the other person has now saved/unlocked that file, and as soon as that is detected, the system should again fire up and suggest you open both files to see which changes you want to incorporate.

D) To stop users from hogging a file, whilst you have got a file soft-locked, you need to be reminded about this visually and prompted to let go of it as soon as you go on-line again. Ideally it would be have like a reminder in Outlook i.e. the user should be asked how soon they want to be reminded again. (say 10 mins, 30min, 1 hour, 0.5 day, 1 day etc) AND other users should be able to see how long you seem to have booked the file editing for.

E) Ideally you could even build in some kind of instant messaging system (with an user-editable in real time message if possible) so that we can messsage each other - Something like "Hi Fred - have you finished editing this file? If not how long will you be?"

F) If I was a betting man I'd say that in 5-10 years
i) not only will all this be free and easy (probably with only some of us paying and that would be either for the more advanced features or advertising removal costing anything - i.e. 'Freemium' business model)
ii) For security/privacy reasons we wont be using The Cloud as such, we'll be using Torrents to share across all our devices.

DropBox now has over 200 Million users, but they do not offer any form of assistance for 'collaboration' (e.g. as described above). All they do is "file replication".

However most of the world need to work collaboratively at least some of the time. And whoever cracks this problem first with an easy-to-use, intuitive interface will absolutely clean up!

What I can tell you 100% for sure, is that a number of your competitors are already working on this problem (e.g. copy.com and TeamDrive.com).

Whatever is done needs to allow for the fact that
A) most of us are not online continually. AND
B) we need to be able to work on - and certainly read them (if not edit them - although that will of course risk conflicts) even when we are off-line (e.g. when we are travelling).

Trying to help

J

Re: Does CloudMe (free) offer File Locking? (So users don't over-write...)

Hi J,

Thanks for your reply, very helpful to get that level of detail on the requirements smile

I actually went back in our archives and have discovered that our back-end database architecture actually do support exactly the type of check in/check out functionality that you are looking for. We designed it for the scenario you are describing. For some reason, we have not exposed the functionality yet in our API or clients, but every file ever created in CloudMe have these properties!

It will therefore be possible for us to implement the functionality with less efforts than anticipated. We will put this in our development plan. The hard work will be to get it into all our clients.

Once again, thanks for your most valuable input.

Best, Daniel
Founder CloudMe

Re: Does CloudMe (free) offer File Locking? (So users don't over-write...)

> We will put this in our development plan.
Fantastic news! Like I say, whichever company is first to offer a reliable, intuitive, easy-to-use (like DropBox), hosted collaboration (unlike Dropbox!) tool on a freemium business model (i.e. offering quite a lot for free and with a couple of tiers of extra services at a reasonable extra cost)... they will absolutely absolutely clean up.

To apply Lean Startup thinking, in the first instance something basic and simple would suffice.

Any idea roughly when this might take shape?

We would be happy to help beta test if that helps.

J

Last edited by ship69 (2014-02-19 15:04:30)

Re: Does CloudMe (free) offer File Locking? (So users don't over-write...)

Thanks, would be great to have some testers, please email us at support at cloudme.com, so we know how to contact you! We need to see where we can fit this in our product road map, but will try to fit it in as soon as possible. So we can't make any promises on timing yet :-)

Best, CloudMe Support

Re: Does CloudMe (free) offer File Locking? (So users don't over-write...)

What ever happened to this?

18 months have passed.  Did your team ever implement any form of file locking?

Background
My small team of family members are still using the much hated DropBox. 'Hated' because we keep running out of storage space and worse we keep over-writing each others work. Yes there is a conflict file generated by DropBox but it's a pain. Yes we sometimes rename files before working on them to show each other when we are editing specific files (and then renaming them back) but in practice mostly it just doesn't happen!
Our team still refused to use the all-conquering Google and/or Microsoft ideological reasons (mostly privacy concerns)

What news?

Re: Does CloudMe (free) offer File Locking? (So users don't over-write...)

Bump?

Re: Does CloudMe (free) offer File Locking? (So users don't over-write...)

Any news?