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Sharing and distributing files is fundamental to getting business done these days, and doing so securely and in a controlled way can make the difference to a project's success.
We've created the Sharelink feature to make it easy for you to leverage the power and control of your Files.com site, while enabling you to distribute and share your files with a large population beyond your core users.
Let's see what it looks like to make a simple Sharelink, then we can look at one that is a more complex.
A simple one might just be one file or a few files that you need to give someone access to. So let's create one. Let's say we've got this file in our Australia Operations folder, we just go to this menu and choose Add to share. [see video or web interface] You can see that this file appears here now [Sharelink interface], and we have a new share started. Let's say we're going to go back to our files in this folder and grab one from the Asia Pacific folder. Again we choose add to share. Now with two files here, we can click Continue.
Here you can see additional options, [sharelink interface options] which for now we're going to leave set for default. Now we click generate share.
That's all it takes to make the simplest of shares.
Here is the actual link that's generated. [see video for link example] We click this to copy the link to our clipboard, and we're going to go over to a separate browser now. If we paste that link in here and hit return, this is what we see. These are the files that we added. So, we can use this link to download both files at once as a zip file, or we can go to the line item itself and download a file individually.
That's the quick and easy way to generate a share link and distribute files beyond your users who have login information. Anybody with this link can access these files in a web browser.
But what if our workflow is a little more complex, and we still need to distribute files securely to a large population? What would that look like?
First, let's look at some site-wide settings that affect how share links behave.
We navigated from Settings to Files. And now we scroll down until we open the settings here.
Sharelink expiration: we can determine that on a site-wide basis. So, for any shares that anyone creates on this site, sharelinks will expire after a certain number of days, or we can say that they never expire.
We also have the ability to say that all share links must be password protected, that a link like this that I just entered into a browser won't work unless the user has a password. Or we can allow some to be password protected, and others not to be password protected.
The other thing that we can do is allow share links to use custom URLs, meaning that instead of the automatically generated token that extends this URL to give this a unique address, we can allow our users who are creating sharelinks to define their own to add more meaningful strings to the URL.
Let's go back and take a look at a more interesting use case.
Let's say for example that we're working with a couple of teams that are developing a training system, and what we need to do is go through the process of creating the curriculum, getting it reviewed and approved, and then getting it out to the students. So, we want to distribute the course materials to illustrate this use case. Let's get a couple other users involved.
First, we have this user [see video] that is part of the Curriculum committee. And we have this user with a WebDAV connection, that is on the Approval committee and is authorized to distribute materials once they are approved. But this curriculum user does not have permission to do that, so in our hypothetical situation, this user is developing some initial training materials, and we'll just represent that by a simple file here. So, we're uploading a file to our curriculum committee, and the rest of the committee is going to be working with this file. [see video]
Now let's say they get through their process, and now they're able to send it to the review stage. This user can see the file go through this process the entire way. But let's say once they get it to approval, this approval user now sees the file in the approval folder.
But this user is not able to advance the file to material distribution. If we try as that user, we get an error, because the user does not have the necessary permission. So, we'll click cancel here. This user can't do that. We've got a situation where, through setting permissions for different users, we can control the flow of our file.
This user [see video] is part of the approval committee and can distribute materials. The user decides to approve the file and puts it into the distribution folder. Why is this important to control the flow like this? Because this is the folder where we're actually going to generate a shared link.
Before, we generated a sharelink with only files. Now we're going to create the sharelink as a whole folder. And that's what makes this use case come alive.
We're going to limit the share to just this folder. [see video] And, we can enter a description that the public is going to see when they actually use this share link.
Now let's determine if this share link should ever expire. [sharelink options interface] We could use the date picker if we want it to expire on a particular date, but I'm going to say in this case, since we're sharing a folder rather than particular files, that this will never expire. And you'll see why shortly.
We would like to customize our URL. Now we have a security warning appear, because this isn't the same type of URL that we might be using as this one that we generated for our first sharelink. [sharelink options interface] Let's say we're going to change this URL so it's more meaningful to our students. And let's say there's an ID for the course and maybe a name. The reason we provide this warning is that you don't want to have a URL out there that is easily guessed and gives random people access to your files. You want it to be something either randomly generated as this one is, [see video] which would not be guessable, or have some unique qualities to it that you define. But also, we're going to use access control here. So rather than this type of link that anybody can access, we're going to add a password. This is going to be a password that all the people use that are going to access this link.
Now we've got everything filled in the way we want this for our link. [sharelink interface] So let's go ahead and generate the sharelink. Now let's copy this to the clipboard. [see video] This is just as we customized it. Now this is what our students would see. We have to enter a password to access this share.
Now that we're logged in, this sharelink sharing window looks pretty much like the one that we saw before with the files, except we're looking at a folder here instead of individual files. Our students can click on this folder and can see different views. If we go into list view, here's a file, and they can download this file. But here's where it gets a little more interesting, since we have shared a folder rather than just a file. This is what they see when they log in. Let's say that in addition to the first file that we put in there, our committee is going to start moving another file through our process.
Now we're submitting this for approval. So we see new file five appear here. And remember before we've got file four, so let's see what happens if our permissioned user says, OK, this is ready to be distributed.
We've now moved this into the course material distribution folder. If we refresh this [browser showing sharelink], we're still looking at this folder. But now we've got two files in here. So, what we've seen is that sharelinks, when sharing folders rather than individual files, are not static. You can continue to update the content that your users are able to access inside this sharelink. And you also saw that you can protect a sharelink with a password, so that it's more secure than if you just provide a link to a population without that control.
Your administrators can use this link on the side of the web interface, [see video] the sharing button, to go back and see the shares that are currently in use, and see what their statuses are. Here is our published course material sharelink. [see video] Here is the quick one that we did just a short while ago.
This also is a quick way to visit these shares and see what's in them. If you click on this, it will take you right to the sharelink sharing window. This is the detail of the share as we created it, and we can see the content description and the path to the folder. And you're also able to use this form to share this link the via email, though of course, you can copy this URL and share it through any means. [see video]
We’ve looked at two examples of using sharelinks: one very simple, and one more complex.
We have found that sharelinks appear in many use cases among our customers.
If you have any questions, please feel free to Contact Us or give us a call at 1-800-286-8372.