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How To Start? Migrating An Organisation From Documents/network Shares To Web-Based Content.

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#1 ncstebb

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 12:00 AM

Hi all, I'm a bit of a novice php developer trying to come up with an innovative way to help my organisation (a secondary school) move from word documents shared in a network drive, to web-based content with external access. I would like some advice as to how I can go about this.

Note: I am running apache (xampp) on windows server 2008.

Some more background info: We have great staff who are talented and hard working, but are often not good with computers. They work in Microsoft Word and share files in a network drive and I want to enable them to create/migrate content to share on the web without asking them to learn too much more. I can think of two ways to do this....

Method 1: Write some php code to enable the web server to access the documents stored outside of the web root.

Staff would work in MS Word creating pages with hyperlinks to navigate between them. Hopefully they can use mht files or we may have to go with word html files (and all the extra folders that would be created :-(. The problem I see is making hyperlinks in these documents work both when accessed directly from the network drive and when viewed via the web server. I thought I could write some php code to rewrite the hyperlinks when the pages are being viewed thfough the web server.

As an alternative to rewriting the links before they are shown, can I intercept the http requests somehow in order to retrieve the correct file/page from the network drive??

The easy part in this approach is to manage permissions. With php I can manage user accounts and restrict access to certain files (eg: files for teachers that students should not see).

Method 2: Create a symlink in the web root to the network drive where the files are stored.

If the links in the documents are relative links I think they should work both when the documents are opened directly from the network drive and when they are viewed via the web server. The problem will be managing permissions. If I don’t need to use php to retrieve the files I won’t have the opportunity to check if the user is allowed to access them. I guess I would need to tie the permissions of the logged in user to the permissions on the network folders somehow. Not too sure how I would do this.

I’ve done some googling on this option and it looks like you can authenticate a user using the ldap_bind function. But I think I would need a lot more to actually enforce folder permissions?? Would I need to find a library/class to help me implement this?

Sorry if this is unclear... it's a pretty broad question (collection of questions?). Any advice, tips, pointers greatly appreciated. I can do the research needed to develop the solution, but at the moment I'm not quite sure how to approach it.

Many thanks in advance,


#2 Muddy_Funster

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 12:18 AM

I'll assume this question is being asked as sharepoint is not an option. Which is a shame as, even though I loath M$, they do provide good integrated solutions for their office products. Have you looked into WebDAV at all? Also, some groupware solution may fit your needs. See what's already out there for the technology you have available and do a propper analysis on the costs and benefits to using a professional licensed software over a free product over the time and effort required to code, test, debug, patch and impliment your own commercialy stable solution.

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#3 ncstebb

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 11:10 AM

Thanks Muddy_Funster,

We do have Sharepoint but it's not used very well and students have no access to it. We also have Moodle (an open source e-learning environment) that a few staff (including myself) use a lot but most don't make the time for. The problem is that the goverment department has created a state-wide e-learning environment that we will probably be expected to use (when they iron out the bugs). As a result there is no motivation by management to invest in something else and no motivation by staff to learn something else if they are just going to have to use this other system.

This is why I'm taking this approach. As it is cheap and really really simple to use. Also, if we have our content available via a web server already it makes migrating to a new web-based system simple. We don't even have to move the files, just link to them or shown them in iframes.

Since I made the original post I'm becoming more confident that method 2 will work. I have the symlink working. I should be able to solve the permissions issues using apache/http authentication and I'm hopeful of finding a way to get mht files working through the web server.

Edited by ncstebb, 22 November 2012 - 11:21 AM.

#4 Adam

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 10:54 AM

I really doubt that completely overhauling the current processes and requiring everyone to learn a new web interface, plus developing it, would be the simpler task. As mentioned already, I would concentrate on integrating something like Sharepoint properly. At least use existing software, as I think you'll be surprised how much effort will be needed for this; making it feature adequate, secure, stable, fast, etc.

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