There has been a surge or interest in the last few years to utilise tablet based or even just small form factor computers or devices. It started back when Netbooks became popular, but exploded in to the mainstream with the Apple iPad. In the last few years I've seen all sorts of people owning an iPad. Many people that either downsized from a big old desktop computer, or bought straight into iPad-land because of it's neatness and size.
Personally, I love the compactness of the iPad, and with a small bluetooth keyboard, I'm beginning to think that you could use the iPad for 'everything' computer based, except of course if you are a hard core gamer, or programmer.
In this article, I'd like to discuss whether you can go 'all in' to use an iPad and still have a good end-user experience with Enterprise Vault.
Screen resolution, and keyboard?
I don't have a retina iPad. Just a regular 'old' iPad2. But it really does do the job for 95% of what I want to do. I've seen and used a retina iPad, and if I was buying now, of course, that's what I'd go for. Will I upgrade? Not yet. So with an onscreen keyboard, and an iPad 2 comes the problem of a small part of the real estate (the screen) being usable/visible. It does make life tricky that's for sure.
When it comes to Enterprise Vault though you'd be more or less talking about emails, and some documents. At least, that's what I would primarily focus on - I'll leave things like SharePoint, and FSA and even Domino for a completely different day - that discussion might be long and fraught with more problems?!
So, to counter the small usable real estate when you have the on-screen keyboard active, and want to do Enterprise Vault and email related actions, then really, the only solution is to go for an external keyboard. These come in varying sizes, varying 'niceness' and varying prices. I went for a Logitech Ultra Thin keyboard cover/case. It is great. It is bluetooth, but you can slide the iPad into a groove along the top edge, and then you are sort of in laptop mode.
So now I have the full screen real estate in order to handle my Enterprise Vault tasks!
It's all about Safari?
Up until about a year ago, iPads were all about Safari. Since then though, Google Chrome has come along, and Apple have done some work to more fully integrate it into an end-users workflow and experience, when using the iPad. But it is not Internet Explorer. We all know that Internet Explorer is THE browser that Enterprise Vault supports for things like:
- Browser Search
- Archive Explorer
So what can you do with mobile Safari (or Google Chrome)?
The answer is not a wholelot. When you try to go to Archive Explorer on an iPad (using http://server/enterprisevault/archiveexplorerui.asp) you get a message on the page saying:
'Archive Explorer requires Internet Explorer 6.0 or later'.
Search is a little better (almost the same URL as above, but with /search.asp at the end). Integrated search, which is much simpler (searcho2k.asp) is also good this way.
So where does that leave us? We can get our corporate email pretty easily, and with the merging of inboxes into the mail client, or even the usage of third party email clients, it's possible to see all of our mails.
But what can we do when we see an archived item? How can we tell it is even an archived item? Do we want iPad users to be down in Safari, or up still in the email client?
There are a few policy settings that an Enterprise Vault administrator may wish to consider, if they want to be 'nice' to iPad (or other tablet device) users. These are:
- Create shortcuts .. or not?
If you don't create shortcuts, and have age based policies then life is good. End-users just simply won't see any archived items in their mailbox. Even if you use Quota and Age based archiving, provided you don't archive recent items, then an end-user is still unlikely to encounter a shortcut. So careful review the archiving policy for all users, or for those that are likely to use a tablet device.
- Shortcut content
At the very least I would suggest including the banner to indicate that the item is archived, otherwise end-users really might not know. You could also consider using the 'full message body', rather than just the first few hundred characters. This way the archived item appears pretty much like the non-archived item. This second option does have the downside that it will not be saving much space in the mailbox, since the item is still full-size.
Third Party or Wait?
There is a good third party component from Commondesk called ArcViewer, which can be deployed, which gives end-users on devices like iPads (and others) an Archive Explorer-like interface. I saw this a long time ago and it is good - I liked it. It does mean it's another third party to get in the archiving-mix, and it's something else that has to be deployed and supported.
If you don't want to do that though, rumours abound about new things coming in Enterprise Vault 11, which will address this. I don't want to give out specifics, but it is likely that there will be a 'client' of sorts that can be integrated into just about any IMAP client.
So, can you go all-iPad? I think that the answer to that is yes, you can. There are some tweaks and some issues, but largely, you can still have a good Enterprise Vault experience. You can do quite a bit of 'normal' activities with archived items, but, it would help if an administrator made some changes to Enterprise Vault. Getting used to this now will be a good thing, because there is more 'good stuff' right around the corner in the Enterprise Vault-world. Remember it's always possible to install TeamViewer and connect to a workstation should the 'need' arise.
How do you access your archived items with an iPad or other tablet? Let me know in the comments below...