Fully into fall… version 16.3 is released!

We are deep into Fall 2021 in North America. The leaves are turning beautiful bright yellow, orange and red (and leaving me a big mess to clean from the yard) and a beautiful bright new version of FileHold is ready to drop.

Version 16.3 is the last minor version we will see in the 16 line and the main goal was to reintroduce redaction to our everywhere viewer as we finish the transition away from our sunset viewing technology that is trapped on the Windows desktop. As always seems to happen, we also took the opportunity to introduce several small but frequently requested features. The release notes provide the full details, but here are some of the highlights.

A quick overview of the new FileHold 16.3 release features. Workflow updates, new viewer features with comments and redaction, search improvements, watched folders with extraction rules and automatic filing, quick check-in, linking and more!

More to view

The requirement to redact document contents is big in law enforcement and other governmental organizations. This is not just about putting a black box over top of some text. You need to purge the content underneath the black box to make it impossible for a user with the redacted document to uncover the hidden details through any means. Now it is as simple to redact as it is to underline in the viewer. Users can redact text, an area on the page or the results of a search.

Multiple users may need to collaborate on redacting a document and they can use the new annotation comment feature to provide insight into why a redaction was added. The comment tab works with all annotations, not just redactions and you can even mention other users so they are notified by email about your comments.

There are many other minor improvements like new next and previous annotation buttons, a new optimized toolbar, support for bookmarks, performance enhancements and annotation viewing for the base level viewer license. We have also included a number of new file types that are compatible with the viewer including PowerPoint and email.

Easy search or speedy search

Take your pick, 16.3 has both. The simple search bar has been enhanced to give power users and infrequent users something to love. Quick searches have long been a popular feature to help quickly find things like specific invoices or project documents. Now they extend to the simple search box automatically. For the supported quick search types, both private and public searches can be executed directly from the simple search box. It remembers the last one you used and the last five, (and the rest) are available in a simple dropdown list.

Administrators can use these changes to the simple search box to enhance the anonymous document portal searching by directing users to typical search types they understand like lot or part numbers. They can still provide the natural language full text search option to users or they can also completely lock it down to avoid searches that return 10s of thousands of results for no good reason from inexperienced users.

Full text searching is one of the most powerful features of FileHold and there were major enhancements in how you form a full text search query in 16.2. For those in the know, searching in FileHold happens in three tiers: full text index, values in the database and then user permissions. Each step fine tunes the results from the prior step. This can produce unexpected delays when a user searches from a folder if the folder only had a small number of documents, but the full text search term was widely used throughout the library. The user’s intent was to only search through the documents in the folder, but first the system would find every document everywhere. This has changed in 16.3.

Now the system provides an automatic hint to the full text search to include only the documents that exist in the folder. The exact same documents are returned as in previous versions, but the relevance calculation and speed of the search are improved. The same improvement is extended to scenarios where the user includes the document schema as a part of their search criteria.

Smaller files use less storage

This obvious statement has a little more relevance in 16.3. Version 16.2 introduced an optional compression feature that could be used when a file was automatically OCR’d on the server. Now this compression feature is available for every compatible document on the server regardless of whether OCR is used. Compression works on both image files and images embedded in PDF documents. It also compresses PDF structure that was formed in an inefficient way when the document was created.

Out of an abundance of caution, original files were never deleted after being processed by OCR and compression. Now, administrators have the option to soft delete originals after the processing is complete. As always, the soft delete queue lifecycle can be controlled from 1 to 1000 days to reduce the overall storage requirement for the system. As a bonus, the document usage log now shows the rate of compression achieved and speed of processing.

Watch and extract

Watched folders and extraction rules have existed in FileHold for many versions now, but they could only be used together in our server based Automatic Document Importation tool. An often-requested feature was to use these with the desktop client (FDA) and now the option is there. And, since we have the variable data from the extraction rule, we have opened up watch folders to integrate with auto-filing templates and scripts.

Merge tags integrated with Microsoft Word

Since version 15.2, merge tags have been one of the easiest methods to automate documents with data from FileHold. Our Assemble feature has done this nicely for a while now, but it was a one-way operation. Whether you were adding content, inserting one document into another, watermarking, or any of the many other things Assemble can do, the result was always a PDF file. What about those engineering or policy documents that always live as Word documents as they get enhanced from version to version?

The answer is merge tag and custom Word properties integration. A Word template designer can now add a merge tag as a custom Word property, then use that document property anywhere in the Word document as for any other Word field. Whenever someone views the document in FileHold, the merge tags will be resolved and the Word properties updated allowing the template design to automatically enable presentation of metadata fields, document control numbers, etc. Users who edit the Word documents have the option to see the updated values in Word when the download a local copy or check the document out for additional editing.

Magic document links

FileHold has always provided a way to link two or more documents in a parent / child relationship using the manually created link method. There are many times where you want to see all documents with a matching purchase order number or all documents for the same customer, etc.

In 16.3 you just right click the metadata field value on the document metadata panel you are looking at to display the improved linked documents panel to immediately show the related documents. No need for manually created links. You can even pin the panel in the user interface to give you a header / details type of relationship as you scroll through documents in the main document panel and display the related documents in the links panel.

New custom integration options

No two customers are the same and most have one or more systems they use along side FileHold. We have many places where we can enhance the application server operation with customer specific functionality and we have added more in 16.3, but we have also added a new method for customers and partners to add their own custom processing: Export Scripts. This processing is configured to run inside of workflow template activities, so once you approve that invoice to pay, it can be immediately be sent to your ERP system ready for the cheque run.

Prior to the introduction of export scripts, auto-filing scripts, which have been with FileHold for many years now, were the only place a customer or partner could modify the internal workings of the application server. Unlike auto-filing scripts, though, export scripts come with a complete management user interface for installation and configuration. This gives flexibility for a developer to create custom functionality that supports many use cases and any FileHold system administrator can configure for their own specific requirements. FileHold will provide sample code with our API kit for customers and partners and pre-built executables for well-known use cases ready-to-use.

Time to wrap it up

You’re probably a little winded if you made it down this far (I know I am), but there is more to check out in the release notes like quick check in, team virtual folders, preventing folder browsing in certain drawers, 50% or more FDA log in performance improvement for internet users, aligned date periods for user defined document events, full text index independence from repository drive location (in case you have to move it), some brand new buttons and button icons, a double-click-to-view option, a hide-all-but-current-approved-version option, it is easier to add documents to existing workflows, you can pin the show documents panel for workflow tasks, more and pinnable filters for the workflow status report, a completely overhauled workflow dashboard with hot links, document schema look ups for mass updates and, our sales team’s favorite, scroll wheel support for search field or view field selection. That’s not quite it, but I give up; you can look at the release notes for the rest.

Russ Beinder

Russ Beinder is the Chief Technology Officer at FileHold. He is an entrepreneur, a seasoned business analyst, computer technologist and a certified Project Management Professional (PMP). For over 35 years he has used computer technology to help organizations solve business problems.