dimanche 14 avril 2013

Playing with the M-Files: a leading Document Management System

M-Files is a rich ECM (Enterprise Content Management) system that can be used to facilitate access to any type of documents including scanned paper (through Optical Character Recognition), emails, etc. It can also be integrated with other enterprise systems like ERP, CRM. You can find more on the corresponding wikipedia page.

In this post we will see: how to administer the system (install it on a local machine, add a license), import data from a CRM database, Model a document management workflow.

M-Files Administration

After installation you will see the "M" driver that allows you to access all documents stored on the M-Files server, there storage is organized into vaults in the M-Files terminology that represents a physical central storage area. In the trail version, you can access directly to a vault content by a double click, however in the pro version a log-in dialog is prompted to check if you have credentials for accessing theis area.

To add a license, launch the M-Files program then right click on the M-file icon (i.e. M) in the Windows Tool bar (see the picture)
Then choose Settings -> M-Files Server Administor. 
On the administrator window choose Local Computer (On the left side) -> License Management (on the right side) -> Install License ... -> enter your Serial number and License code.

You can find more information on the M-Files manual can be fond here: 
Start -> All Programs -> M-Files -> Documentation -> M-Files Help

Import data to M-Files

Imported files to M-Files are enriched with meta-data that should be indicated at the importation time. On the manual you can find how to import data under the section Daily use of M-Files -> Transferring existing files to M-Files. There you will see that you have two options:
  • Create a link between a source and the corresponding M-files document so that modifications in any of these data is propagated to the other copy through this connection.
  • Import an external document to M-Files so that you can modify any copy without altering the other one.
To read more about these options jump to Connections to External Sources / File Sources. You can also check Connection to External Database.

To create a connection to an external source, on the administrator window go to Connections to External Sources then select the source type (e.g. file, email). A new window will show up to allow you edit the source information (location, description, meta-data).

We're going to import a CRM database to retrieve the customers information (i.e. name, address and website).
On the administrator window (previous figure), go to Object Types under Meta Structure of your current vault. Then on the right side select Customer then Connection to External Database as in the following figure:
Check the checkbox then, click on define source to enter the database OLE provider as well as connection information (data source path or DB name, user credentials).

For instance, to import data from an Excel file choose for OLE DB Provider "Microsoft OLE DB Provider for ODBC Drivers". Then, in the next tab edit the DSN (Data Source Name) (e.g. Excel) or enter a connection string. For instance, here is an example of such string for accessing MS Access:
provider=MICROSOFT.JET.OLEDB.4.0;DataSource=C:\mfiles.accdb;User ID=nonDusager;Password=motDePasse;
You can find more information about the connection strings check this page (french).

If you had problems of DSN incompatibility between your pilote and the application then check this thread on Microsoft support.

To be continued.

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