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Cracking The Vault (part 1)
Save the paperless office from extinction with this electronic document management system

| Setting The Stage |

Now, I don't know about you guys, but I don't think the paperless office is a feasible idea. At least not without a lot more thinking, and a lot more work.

I'm not being a pessimist here. I love the concept, and, just like everyone else, my eyes light up at the thought of replacing the mounds of paper piled up around my workstation with something a little more attractive (a Mr. Potato Head, maybe?). And so, a while back, a few like-minded colleagues and myself got together and decided to try and make a go of using only electronic documents in our daily workday.

Obviously, we already use internal email extensively, and swap documents over the network - however, since we are a content production company, our work involves accepting and editing both digital and printed material, and most people still prefer printing out an article or report, as opposed to reading the digital version off a computer screen.

After a very trying eight weeks, a couple of problems with this approach became immediately visible in our weekly after-hours gripe session. And so, a skunkworks project was born, a software development effort designed to make it easier to manage collections of electronic documents in a networked environment.

All this is, of course, by way of background. Over the next few pages, I will be describing our unique requirements and the problems we faced in greater detail, together with our proposed solution. And, after putting in some thought, I will be guiding you through the process of building a document management system, with the help of powerful open-source tools like PHP and mySQL.

The goal here is two-fold: to introduce novice and intermediate programmers to the process of designing and implementing a Web-based application, and to PHP's session handling, file upload and database capabilities; and to offer developers, administrators, corporate efficiency experts and people with messy desks a possible solution to their woes.

Lofty goals, you scoff? Well, let's see...

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