File locking in Sharefile?

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Hi;

A customer of ours using sharefile is struggling a little.  They have an on-premise storagezone.  Their main way of accessing this is via the drive mapper.

We've run into an issue whereby the obvious lack of file locking is causing our customer a bit of a headache.  If multiple users open a file, whoever saves last wins, and overwrites everyone elses data!

The 'Check-out' feature could help here, but unfortunately it only seems to flag to users that they can't save-over a checked-out file at the point of saving, not at the point of opening.  This is not very useful to the users as they might have made a variety of changes before realising they can't commit those changes back to the file!

In addition, the icon-change on a checked-out file is very subtle, and easily missed by users.  Ultimately, it's just not the way they're used to working, and the elegance of NTFS / SMB file locking where they are immediately alerted to the fact another user has the file open is obviously superior.

We surely can't be alone here.  Is there another route the customer could be taking to implement some form of locking?  What other solutions are available that could help us solve this problem?

Many thanks!
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Mark Lomas

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Posted 5 months ago

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Prabhat Tyagi, Engineering

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Hi Mark,

Thanks for your feedback.

Just so that I understand the issue, can you please confirm which ShareFile tool and file extension/application you are using for editing when a file is checked out by another user. Some tools like ShareFile Sync and ShareFile Drive Mapper apps, mark the checkout file as "read-only" wherever possible if it is checked out by another user and would not allow editing. 


 
Similarly for the desktop app, we disable "Open and Edit" option and thats another way to prevent allowing editing a file which is checked out. 




Cheers
Prabhat Tyagi
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Mark Lomas

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Hi

The tool the customer is using is the drive mapper.  The customer is experiencing a situation where if they simply double-click the file, another user is still free to open it (unlike in an SMB share that they were used to previously).

If the customer checks-out the file, will the user be notified when they open the file that the document cannot be edited?  Or would they only discover that when they go to save the file after making changes?

-- 
Mark Lomas
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Prabhat Tyagi, Engineering

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Hi Mark,

If a file is checked out, Drive Mapper marks the file's property as "read only" for all other users. It also sets the "checkout" icon on these files. 

In such a case, many apps would handle it before allowing editing. Please see the screenshot on how a read only file would show up for word, and similar behavior should be there for other office files. However, some applications do load the content into memory (like WordPad/Notepad). In these cases, user is allowed to make changes and it would not be known until the file is saved back to disk.


Can you confirm which application/file type is the customer using?
I am assuming that the same files were not accessible/editable with smb share when another user was editing it? 

Cheers
Prabhat Tyagi
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Mark Lomas

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Hi there;

The applications in use are predominantly Office 2016 apps.

The customer's used to a Windows file share, where file locking is automatic, requires no user intervention, and provides very obvious alerting to others who attempt to open a locked file (typically in the form of a modal dialog).

Under Sharefile with the drive mapper, marking a file as checked out is an additional and manual step.  For others attempting to open the file, the visual cues are less obvious and could be missed.

If file locking is not an option, are there other routes we could explore?  Automatic checkout of files that are opened for example?

Many thanks
-- 
Mark Lomas
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Prabhat Tyagi, Engineering

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Hi Mark,

Thanks again for your feedback.

As of now we don't have auto check out capability when a file is opened. However we have plans to add notification and alerting user on a potential conflict if a shared file is opened and changes are done by another user. I can not provide exact time line but some of these changes would be included in later releases of the new desktop tools that we have in Beta - https://support.citrix.com/article/CTX228273


Cheers
Prabhat Tyagi
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Keith Moore

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Prabhat,
We run into this issue frequently as well. An option to automatically check out a file when opened and check in when closed in Drive Mapper would solve our problems with conflicts. Is there a chance of that happening?

Thanks,
Keith
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Prabhat Tyagi, Engineering

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Hi Keith,

Thank you for your inputs.

The consideration with automatically checking out is mistaking a "read" only intent. So in such a case wherein check out is done automatically, the user who first opens a file for only "view", would prevent others from getting write access. We also understand that the explicit check out option is an extra step that the user needs to take, and it is not a regular work flow.

I'll pass on both of the feedback, discuss with relevant teams and see what best we can offer. 


Cheers
Prabhat Tyagi
(Edited)
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Mark Lomas

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Hi Prabhat;
Most people opening a file do so to make changes.  In any case, why not at least give customers the choice?  Right now we're forcing a less common way of working onto people who want to work different, and expecting them to change their habits to suit the product.
Surely it would be far better to let users have some choices here, and have the product work the way that best fits their case?
I appreciate that right now there may be no options, but I would indeed appreciate it if you could pass along the feedback.
Many thanksMark Lomas
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Prabhat Tyagi, Engineering

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Sure Mark. We will consider the feedback. 

Cheers
Prabhat Tyagi
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Keith Moore

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I agree with Mark's comment. Even if it's something set by group policy instead of the program interface, it would be usefull to us.
Thanks,Keith
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Marc Gold

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Hi 

I would like to chip in here and mirror the frustrations of other users.  We are working in a Mac only environment and use the newly released Citrix Files, but previously using sharefile Sync.   We have exactly the same problem in that the last save wins.   However,  as we have 100% file revisions switched on we haven't lost a file but its a right pain to have to login and try and find the correct one.

This is a long standing issue and the checkin / checkout process is alien to normal users.  Ok if your a developer and have regularly worked with versioning environments for code changes but not in a normal workflow as mentioned above.

MS figured this one out long ago,  its a simple solution to file locking and warns others that a file is already being edited - ~Myfileislcoked.doc  Simple.   Why not just replicate the file thats created when this happens and let MS office just do what its designed to do.

I know, simple isn't it :)  Come on Citrix  think like a user not a coder.

Thanks
Marc
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Stephen Doherty

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Hi

I would like to add my two cents to this. We have a similar but different struggle with this. We have the cloud ShareFile not on-prem in a windows environment. Our users use the Citrix File (Drivemapper) and the web interface. The trouble I see is the users are not able to keep files in order without writing a new version but without keeping the changes that both parties have made.
Let me explain with a workflow example.

user 1 checks out file A, downloads the file and works on the file.
User 2 does not notice that file A is checked out, and downloads the file(which apparently is allowed).
user 1 finishes with the file and uploads or saves the changes and checks the file back in.
user 2 then finishes their edits and uploads the file.
Now the result is version 2 and version 3 of the original file with different changes by different users that is not merged.

To remedy this we have looked into using office 365 to enable the collaborate feature but it falls down with their limit on file sizes which is to small for our environment. Think large accounting files with lots of data.

What i would like to see from ShareFile is the locking feature that i have seen in 'competitor' products.

When a file is locked it prevents another user from downloading the file only viewing in the web.
This way it can be read only but cannot be saved. It also tells you who has the file locked ( so you can pester them)

Thanks,
Steve