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Blue Clarity Agile Documents is a powerful document content management system that works in concert with Microsoft SharePoint. Agile Documents integrates into your existing SharePoint site(s) as a cloud hosted app. No complicated software is installed on the servers, no new servers are added to the farm, no data has to be moved, users keep the same logins, files keep the same permissions and you remain in control of your data.

Agile Documents allows you to move beyond the construction and management of large monolithic documents. Now, you can envision documents as a collection of independently managed content where a single change propagates to all appropriate documents. Content from Excel spreadsheets, Word Processing documents, databases and a myriad of other sources can be linked into your agile document. Through SharePoint integration, this content can independently maintain audit tracking, versioning, information management policies and unique security permissions.

Central to Agile Documents is the use of a virtual, or rather an Agile Document. The the Agile Document Editor, the rich user interface used to create and maintain these Agile Documents, provides a desktop like experience within the browser with intuitive capability to map, format, and edit the document and its linked content items. In this way, the user can quickly adjust virtually every aspect of the document through a single web page without having to load and switch between the countless content items. The Agile Document Editor is shown below.

Agile Documents provide a mechanism to break up your document into separate components. These components are linked into your Agile Document. For instance, we can link cells from an Excel File into our document. We could have just as easily linked in a Word document, an Image, xml data, a list item, data from a database, xml data, or a myriad of other source types.

Again, as these components change, those changes are automatically reflected in your Agile Document. There is no longer a need to manually update the same changes in multiple documents.

Finally, it is noteworthy to point out that Agile Documents is not only able to read from a wide variety of sources, but can also generate the document in an equally wide array of formats, ranging from DOC, DOCX, EPUB, HTML, InDesign, ODT, PDF, PPT, PPTX, RTF, XBRL, XLS, XLSX and XPS.

The Agile Document

We define a traditional document as one that is entirely edited and managed by one of the many word processing programs available today—such as Microsoft Word. In Word, your document is stored as a single file such as a DOC or DOCX file. This file can be stored on your local computer, the network server, or the cloud—which is essentially a fancy way of saying a network server that is available over the Internet. These days, that network server is usually SharePoint and it does more than just act as a file repository. It is a web application platform.

Although SharePoint provides significant enhancements storing our word processing file over a network server or local hard drive, it still stores its content in a single container—a single DOC or DOCX file. As we edit our traditional word processing files, the content generally resides within them. That means if we have two or more documents that share some content from a SharePoint list, database or some other source, that content must be manually updated in each document. Of course, as you edit these documents you keep hoping you don’t make any mistakes in your updates.

In contrast, an Agile Document acts as a virtual document. Its focus is on linking to content instead of housing the content. More specifically, Word, Excel, XML, SharePoint Lists, Databases and a myriad of other data sources can be linked from the Agile Document to their underlying source. An Agile Document is rendered by traversing its content links, combining this content and then generating an output file—such as a PDF or DOCX file. In this way, changes to the underlying content are automatically reflected in the rendered Agile Document. Unlike traditional word processing documents, you do not have to re-edit Agile Documents when the linked content changes.

Through SharePoint integration, linked content can independently maintain versioning and unique security permissions.

Versioning allows for the retention of old copies of a file along with who saved the copy. This history serves as a mechanism to describe the evolution of the file on a save by save and therefore user by user basis. It can also function as a readily accessible backup system for any parts of the content we removed accidently or on purpose.

Security permissions can be adjusted to allow others to read, write or denied access to a file. In this way, you can securely share a file with colleagues while denying access to all others.

Therefore, Agile Documents provides more granular control than a traditional word processing document. For example, an Agile Document could have three sections each linked to one of three Microsoft Word files. The first linked file can be restricted to a set of editors from the marketing department. The second linked file can be restricted to a set of editors from the technology department. Finally, the third section can be only be viewed and edited by the accounting department. Additionally, the accounting department may have versioned their file as a means to institute a government mandated audit tracking. Now, an audit tracking analysis can focus on the accounting departments’ changes by solely focusing on the accounting departments’ linked file. The analysis can avoid the unrelated saves to the other two content files. Of course, in a traditional word processing file all the changes are comingled in a single version history. Further, there is very limited support for securing various sections of the document.

Agile Documents frees users from treating their documents as silos. It allows them to think about documents as a collection of reusable parts. It also allows them use parts with differing characteristics in the same Agile Document—such as different versioning rules, security permissions and information management policies.