FileHold 16.0 has reached general availability

It is that time again and there is a new release of FileHold to chomp on. If you are a FileCare customer the cost of upgrading on the same server is automatically included with your FileCare agreement. If you are still hanging on to version 14.x, time to get serious about scheduling your upgrade. Our FileCare program covers the current and previous major version and you are now two major versions behind. Everyone else can contact [email protected] to see if it is the right time for you to upgrade.

As always, the new release includes new and enhanced features and lowers our customers’ cost of ownership. The big story in the last release was new viewing technology. We have taken that to the next level in 16 by adding the popular page manipulation features previously only available in the desktop client to the web viewer. You can now move pages around in a document, move them from document to document, or remove them altogether. We have also added a document search feature that was previously only available to users with a third-party viewer. It will automatically search inside the document based on a simple search in the document library or you can type your own search term. A column of matches automatically appears on the left allowing the user to quickly jump to many places in the document.

The existing viewer functionality has been enhanced by adding better DOCX rendering fidelity for the level 1 version and best rendering for the level 2 viewer. A long list of image formats and a couple more document formats have been added to the level 1 viewer with several more document formats added to the level 2 viewer. Users licensed for the level 2 viewer also get a bonus “Assemble” feature. This allows the user to merge multiple files of different types into a single PDF. It also enables the special field tags introduced with the workflow convert to PDF feature to be used an any of the documents or template documents that will be added to the beginning or end. A wider range of document formats are available for conversion and tag replacement than in convert to PDF. Time to fill your documents with metadata and workflow signoff sheets.

For those of you that want to take better advantage of your self-service (anonymous, formerly “guest”) portal we have made it a lot easier by matching the way users are configured in the system to the way you buy them and giving you one simple dialog to configure a portal. We took this opportunity to simplify the user interface for the self-service portal users removing several elements that do not apply to them. And, since we were making a bunch of changes to users, we thought it was time to introduce our new style report and management page. For now, it applies to the user management and a few other new feature screens, but eventually it will be seen on all similar pages. Administrators now have lots of options to configure the columns and filters they use and even save different configurations for easy reuse. The user mass edits also got a big makeover.

Workflow has always been a big topic for our research and development team and this release is no different. Two customer requested features are the big story here: Adobe Sign integration and one-time activities.

Integration with Adobe Sign has been available for a while as an add-on. However, as an add-on the integration is not perfect. Also, the add-on uses the older authentication and web service technology that was part of Adobe’s Echosign acquisition. Now that Adobe Sign is a part of workflow the integration is tight and includes Adobe’s latest OAuth authentication and REST API. Any main documents you add to a workflow can now be sent to be signed by the Adobe technology and when the signing is complete the documents are automatically returned as new versions to FileHold. The workflow status report, signoff sheet, and the document usage log all reflect the Adobe signature and provide convenient links to all the gory details that Adobe stores about the signature. All you need is an Adobe account and a license for our optional Adobe workflow activity feature.

As many of you know, we support a ton of Microsoft versions in a single FileHold version. There are some pluses and minuses to this approach, but one of the minuses is that we sometimes need to delay adoption of the newest technologies when we are still supporting the really old stuff. Inside of Microsoft Internet Information Server we have been using the latest platform options for new features like Courier, but still using old compatibility modes for core applications. Starting with 16.0 we are no longer straddling the old and new and we have fully converted all our applications. That means there is a single application pool to manage and support for TLS 1.2 does not require any special setup for Windows Server 2012R2 or later. It is a pretty boring revelation for end users but probably has some IT managers getting excited as it will simplify security hardening their FileHold server.

Speaking of security, our next big security feature is introduced with version 16: multi-factor authentication. Some customers have been doing this with add-on technologies, but we have now integrated this into the product as an optional feature. For this initial implementation we have chosen to partner with as the authentication provider. You need a Duo account and you need to add FileHold as an application in that account. There are a few parameters Duo provides that you add to your FileHold server and you are ready to go. End users can load the Duo application to their phone or get text messages or emails for authentication. You have the full power of Duo at your disposal to configure exactly how you want users to authenticate. For customers using our API, no worries. We implemented multi-factor authentication in such a way that existing applications should work unchanged until you decide to enable multi-factor.

There are lots of little improvements to FileHold requested by customers like including a result count for folder views just like we have always done for searches, unlimited upload and download sizes for the desktop client, removing the requirement to save Office documents before adding to FileHold, and adding comments to Courier notifications. Of course, there are many more minor improvements that customers did not even know they needed yet, but the last biggie for 16.0 is our improvements to lookups.

When we added schema lookups and unlimited database dropdown menu fields to version 14, we were not sure how well they would be received. Well, they are now configured in nearly every new system we deliver and used in ways we did not even have on our radar six years ago when they were designed. All the use cases from the field have inspired the next big enhancements in this area by increasing the flexibility of these features without breaking what is working so well.

For schema lookups we have opened the door for the custom query method to use up to five metadata fields as runtime parameters instead of just one. This opens up a lot of possibilities for creative SQL to enhance the ability for users to get the correct metadata onto a document with minimum effort.

Dropdown menu fields are great until you have 100k id values to choose from. Then they are a challenge. There have been lots of workarounds developed by users, but they are not needed anymore. We have now enabled “search” fields for the dropdown. You can now configure up to five additional fields to be used for user selection and provided end users with a little popup and our new style list interface to filter and group the configured options to easily choose the exact one or many values that need to be selected.

As always, you can check out our latest features in detail on our release page. Look for the release notes at the bottom to see all the changes since your current version.

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.