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More information about the new Open Edit Save solution in Fronter

Last week we released a change to the way Fronter Open Edit Save works. We realise that this has created frustration and confusion for some of our users. And while we continue to work on improving this functionality based on your feedback, I thought that I would give you a better explanation of why we have made this change.


Background: The old Fronter OES plugin

Previously, Fronter used an in-house developed browser plugin called Fronter OES, which users needed to specifically install. This plugin would trigger the opening of a document editing application (like MS Word), for editing. Then, upon saving the document, it would ask if you wanted to save the changes as a new version or overwrite your existing file.

This plugin is written in duplicate, with one implementation using ActiveX (for IE browsers), and the other implementation using NPAPI (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NPAPI). Both of these technologies are deprecated due to outdated technology and security concerns, and are quickly losing support in browsers. 

Here is a summary of browser support for the plugin technologies:

Browser ActiveX  NPAPI 
 IE 10 & 11 Yes  No
 Edge No No
 Chrome No No
 Firefox No Yes, but support will be removed in 2016
 Safari No No

 

For browsers that could no longer use the Fronter OES plugin, Fronter implemented a fallback solution using WebDAV technology (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WebDAV). The WebDAV workflow necessarily involves more manual steps than the plugin, but does work in all browsers. However, versioning was not possible, as it was with the plugin.


Solution: Native ActiveX and WebDAV

The Fronter OES plugin, with the technologies it uses, has no future. When we announced last fall that we would be removing OES, you spoke up, and told us that this was a very important feature that many users depended on. We listened, and decided to try and find a new solution for your Open Edit Save needs.

Although ActiveX is a deprecated technology, we found a native Microsoft ActiveX (Sharepoint) plugin that leverages WebDAV, rather than using proprietary outdated technologies, as the Fronter OES ActiveX plugin. This Microsoft plugin provides nearly seamless integration when using IE 10 and 11, and Microsoft Office applications. It also works for many document types in LibreOffice. In order to continue to give our users a similar experience to the Fronter OES, we decided to use this plugin.

For all other browsers, direct WebDAV continues to be the best available technology for the job.

We realise that the behaviour of the new ActiveX plugin is not exactly the same as the Fronter OES plugin in all cases. This may be especially noticeable when different people are editing the same document. Another difference is that you now decide before editing rather than after, whether or not you want to create a new version of the document.


So what does the new Open Edit Save solution have?

Continuous support in all browsers: you can use ActiveX in IE, and WebDAV in all other browsers

Document versioning: Previously, versioning was only available with the old plugin, now, you can version with WebDAV as well. In addition, the versioning is simpler.

Streamlined dialogs: The information in the WebDAV dialogs has been streamlined to what users really need to know.

More consistent behaviour: During development, we found some inconsistent behaviour that we have fixed. For example, previously when one person edited a document owned by another person, depending on how the person made their changes (OES plugin, WebDAV, or re-upload the file), the document owner may or may not have been changed.


We hope that you will work with us to help us improve the new Open Edit Save functionality, by continuing to provide us with feedback!




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