ExtJS Storage enabled Portlets – integrated with Google Docs, Amazon S3 + 10 other storage clouds

We’ve recently been doing some integration work with a large engineering company that has been focused on integrating multiple clouds with their Portal framework which in this case is Ext JS. Ext (pronounced “Eee Eks Tee”) is a JavaScript library for building interactive web applications using techniques such as Ajax, DHTML and DOM scripting. It has gained quite a following and is a popular choice for a Portal infrastructure.

The main advantage of that ExtJS has over other frameworks is its component-oriented model which leads to a consistent and easy to use API to build widget-based interfaces. It also now features integrated touch sensitive web apps using HTML5 which makes it an even stronger Ajax tools and Portal framework

The integration that we have done for the engineering company is going to be  key to enabling data access for storage clouds when users sign into the Portal. Clouds such as S3, and internal storage clouds, will be mapped into the on-premise SMEStorage Cloud Gateway appliance. Authentication is being handled by integration with an internal identity management server so that single sign-on can be accomplished.

The real power of the on-premise appliance and the rich API is that not only can users use the Portal to access files, they can also use the white label version of the Windows / Mac / Linux desktop tools , and also the Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, IPad mobile clients.

If you are interested in integrating ExtJS with an on-premise Cloud Gateway then please contact us

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Further news on iSMEStorage 2.0 for iPhone and iPad

We’ve just released the new version of iSMEStorage to the App Store. We put so much effort into it that is has become a major release version rather than the 1.67 version we had previously intended.

The release includes the following features:

Enhanced Security: The App can now be assigned a PIN over and above the normal login (for security of local files)

Better local file sharing: Added ability to email local files as file attachments

Sync from any Cloud: It is now possible to sync any cloud directory (from any of the clouds we support) to your phone. You can do this with as many directories as you wish and can set the sync directory from within the App.

The first App to offer cut and paste between clouds: We’ve added cut and paste of files between cloud directories and even between different storage clouds used the concept of File and Folder Actions! You can also now use the Cloud Clipboard to store multiple files that you wish to cut and paste in this manner.

Fully fledged FTP Server: You can now turn iSMEStorage into an FTP Server and batch upload as many files locally as you wish.

Fully Fledged Local File Manager: We’ve beefed up the local file operations so you can now cut and paste files between directories locally and also added the ability to create and use folders as categories for the Memos and Voice Memos sections of the App.

Enhanced Text Editor: We’ve beefed up the text editor so it is now full screen and has a word search as many of you requested. We also added the ability to edit any local text file as you wanted and enabled .html .css .xml and any other type of text format file to be edited.

Google Maps integration: The GEO location of where a file was uploaded and where a file is stored is now integrated with a Google Maps view.

Enhanced Cloud Support: Added support for DropBox, Zimbra Briefcase and Files Anywhere (Web Advanced Plan required)

Email to Cloud Support: Added FileBox menu option so that you can easily get to file attachments that you have mailed to your Cloud

Mark Folders as Favourites: Added support for marking folders as favourites from directly within the App.

Web Viewer fixed: Amended Web Viewer so that state is kept when browsing in menu.

Organisation Ready: Added icon for Organisation Folders and Organisation Support for our business users



Apple normally approves within a week so we are hoping that the App will be released around the 20/21st October unless we have to do any amendments as required by Apple.

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Understanding collaboration and sharing options using the SME Multi-Cloud Platform

There are many ways which you can use the SMEStorage Organisation Multi-Cloud Gateway Platform to collaborate with colleagues and business partners. We’ll have a look at some of the ways this can be done and provides some help and tips so that you can pick the best mechanism to collaborate.

**Remember that the options outlined below work with any of the clouds we support through our Gateway**

Email Sharing (Individual files) using the SMEStorage Gateway:

You can share a file from any of your mapped cloud storage providers using email from the web file managers or the windows tooling.  The user will be notified that a file is shared with him in an email from SMEStorage. To access this file the user has to login to SMEStorage so if he does not have an account he will need to create a free account. The reason for this is that this mechanism of sharing lets you assign an expiry time for the link so you can, for example, set the link to expire in two days.

If you are sharing files via our mobile clients then the files are shared via an email link that is created directly on the device and sent via the device’s email.

**Note** The email branding and email account can be changed to your own organisation if you have a SMEStorage Organisation account.

Email sharing (multiple files) using the SMEStorage Gateway

You can use the cloud clipboard from the Rich File Manager to add files that you want to share, and these can be from several different storage clouds. Once you have added all the files you want to share, you can again set expiry links and the email that is sent is done using the SMEStorage branding and the recipient needs to login to SMEStorage or create a free account to access the files.

The Cloud Clipboard can also be used from the iPhone/iPad, Android, BlackBerry, mobile clients and the list of files are shared with links directly from the email client of the device.

**Note** As above the email branding and email account can be changed to your own organisation if you have a SMEStorage Organisation account.

Sharing Files using a URL

You can get a SMEStorage URL or TinyURL for any file and you can send this to a anyone via email or use in a blog etc. Users will not require a SMEStorage account to access the file. This URL does not expire and will only be unusable if you change any details of the file otherwise it will always be able to be used to download the file.

This options is available from the Web file managers, Windows, Mac, and also iPhone/iPad, Android, BlackBerry, mobile clients.
Making Files Public

You can set a file to be public from the web, windows tools or from the mobile clients. Once a file is made public it is accessible from your public files page which you can find on your sidebar when you login to SMEStorage. You can share the link to your public files page and users do not need to be logged in to access it. All files shared on this page are indexable by search engines and available for anyone to download. You can of course choose to encrypt files publicly shared which means that anyone wishing to download the file will need to have been given a password as they will be taken to a password page before they can download the file.

Business Collaboration Groups


Business Groups are one of the collaboration features of SMEStorage that works with Individual Accounts as well as with Organisation Accounts. The basic premise is that you can create a Group and invite users to it. This is very easy to do. Any file content that you then share with the Group will be shared with all members of the group. Group members will receive an automated email message letting them know that a new file has been shared with them.

Members can also receive Twitter messages when a file is shared with them if they have chosen to enter their Twitter details in their SMEStorage user preferences. You can also choose to allow other users to share files with your business group, or decide whether to let group members be visible to each other (These last two options are only available when setting up business groups using the rich File Manager from the web).

So what are groups useful for ? Well we polled some of our users to see what they were using them for and we found some interesting uses. One of our users is using Groups as a way to keep his sales partners updated with corporate product collateral and technical documentation. He has formed what he calls a “content sharing network”.  Another of our users is in a band and after doing some live recording he tweaks the results in Garage Band and shares them with his bandmates.

The key to business groups is that they let you share content with external parties, or let them share content with you and you can create and manage the either from the web, Windows Cloud Dashboard, or directly from your mobile client.

Mixing File Sharing options with Encryption

All of the above options can be mixed with file encryption, even when making file public. You could for example, choose to make 1o files public, all of which are encrypted and no-one would be able to download them without the password key that you provide. The same approach works for files shared over email, or via URL or even with collaboration group members.

For example we have a user who wanted to figure out the best way of having his users access file without having to login but without making the file available to any users who came across them. To this end he uploaded his files to Amazon S3 and encrypted them on upload. He shared the public url of the page with his  user-base but gave them the key to access the files.

One last note is that we would ask you to please review our Terms of Use before sharing files. Our platform cannot be used for sharing copyrighted content, such as movies, Mp3’s or e-books.

How to Encrypt Files

Files can only be encrypted using the web or Windows Dashboard clients. The Web, Windows tools, Mac and Mobile tools will recognise an encrypted file and ask you for a password if you try and access it.

Organisation Folders

Organisation folders are only available to be used with our Organisation Cloud offering and are analogous to public folder shares  for user of an Organisation. When the folders are created all content within the folder is shared with all users of the Organisation Cloud, unless permissions are set to prevent this for individual users. They are a great way to share files and information within an Organisation. Commonly used folder names can be things such as ‘Marketing’, ‘Human Resources’, Projects’ etc.

Organisation Folders: Creating

Organisation Admins of our Organisation Cloud offering can choose to create Organisation folders by checking  the “is Organisation folder” checkbox. A special folder is created that is denoted by a briefcase. In the example above we have created an Organisation folder called ‘Marketing’ that is stored on Amazon S3.

When an Organisation folder is created all members of the Organisation Cloud automatically view this folder, and any content, in their file tree when they login. It is a great way to keep users updated on company information.

Organisation users can also upload to these folders.

Organisation Folders: Protecting

You can assign permissions on Organisation Folders as to which users have permission to view, access or upload to the Organisation Folders. This can be accessed by clicking on the”Org Folders” from the sidebar when logged in via the web.

Organisation Folders: Filebox

Each Organisation Folder (and Individual Account) also has a FileBox address(see the FileBox section for more information on FileBox) in which Organisation Folders can be assigned a special email address and emails and content can be sent directly to the Cloud Folder from the email address that is registered with the user from SMEStorage.

For Individual users, they can accept the default FileBox address or assign their own from My Account->Options. The administrator of the Organisation Cloud needs to assign the FileBox unique names for Organisation Folders and distribute them to users.

FileBox: Sharing email attachments.

Organisations have different challenges. Having emails in inboxes appertaining to Marketing, or Hunan Resources, or clients is fine, but it’s easy for this to be ‘lost’ in some users inbox and not available to the whole department.

FileBox changes this because it allocates a unique email to each user and also to Organisation Folders. Each user of the Organisation Cloud can send or CC an email to either personal or the public Organisational folder and the email will be stored as a text along with any attachments so that it is instantly stored in the correct place and available to all Organisation users.

The way FileBox works for users is as follows:

1. Users have an extra setting in their My Account-> Options page which appertains to Filebox

2. The user is given the option of assigning a keyword to the filebox@SMEStorage.com email address so that the end email address become filebox.<keyword>@storagemadeeasy.com.

3. This is your unique address to send or forward an email. All emails that are received to this address that are sent from your registered SMEStorage email address will be added to a folder called “My Filebox”

4. You can choose whether just to store emails or emails and attachments.

5. Within the Filebox folder the subject line of the email will become a folder name and within this will be stored the email, as a text file, and any attachments if this is the configuration you chose.

The way FileBox works for and Organisation:

Organisation Admins get some extra features from the ‘Org Folders’ sidebar options. Here Admins can also choose the keywords for the Organisation Folders they have created so that email information and attachments can be sent directly to this folder. As with the Individual use, the subject line becomes the folder name.

**Note** You must send the emails from the email address registered with your Organisation Cloud for the emails to be picked up**

**Note** FileBox emails are processed every 5 minutes so it may take 5 to 10 minutes for the email to appear in your FileBox

Notifications

It is possible to use Business Groups to create notifications for internal Organisation users (as well as for external users of a business Group). We will outline how this can be done:

Setting Up Notifications:

To create notifications on any of these 3 things for files:

– Name

– Description

– File extension

Create a business group with all the members that you want to receive notifications. The members will receive an email and need to accept being a member of the business group.

Once this is done:

1. Navigate to whatever folder you want to use for notifications on the Web File Manager (not the lite file manager)

2. Go to the business groups tab that you just created and click on it

3. Click ‘Auto Rule’

4. Decide what the text is and the type of things you want to look for in a file

5. Decide whether this is only for the current folder outlined or also sub folders

6. Click’ Add Rule’

Now whenever files of the type you specified get added to a folder the group members will automatically receive an email.

Organisation Cloud Notifications

Users of the SMEStorage Organisation Cloud offering can set up special type of notifications on Organisation Folders. These can be accessed by Organisation Cloud Admins from the sidebar Option “Org Folders” and selecting the notifications tab. You can then set whether users get email notifications for all file types of specific names or extensions.

When any member of the Organisation Cloud drops a file in this folders or send a file to it using FileBox then if it matches the rule you setup in the notifications all users will receive an email letting them know that new content has been added.

Document Collaboration

Collaboration on revisions of different documents is currently in beta and will be released soon. This will enable users to collate document versions and step through them and mark the changes and create a final version of the document.

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Coming Soon: Access your Cloud Files from any cloud using S3 API

We’ve been surprised by the huge success of the work we did with CloudDav which enables you to access your Cloud Files from any of the storage clouds we support using WebDav, even if the underlying Storage Cloud itself does not support it.

With that in mind we’ve been working on something even more innovative and that is enabling you to access any of your Cloud Files using the Amazon S3 API. This will mean that you will be able to use existing Amazon S3 tools, scripts etc that support the ability to specify your own endpoint to directly access Cloud Storage on Cloud such as Google Docs, DropBox, RackSpace, SkyDrive etc. We think this will prove just as useful to many developers, individuals and companies as our CloudDav layer has been.

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New Drag and Drop Web Uploader for batching file uploads to multiple clouds

We’ve made some update to our HTML file uploader for the Rich File Manager on the website. Uploading a few files over the web was always difficult because you had to browse each file one by one. Now you can choose to launch the uploader and just drag and drop multiple file which will then be uploaded in sequence.

Of course as the File Manager view lets you see multiple clouds due to the Virtual Cloud File System that SMEStorage providers through its Cloud Gateway, you can easily batch upload files to different cloud or information stores and as such works with all those we support which includes DropBox, Google Docs, Amazon S3, RackSpace, Microsoft SkyDrive etc.

A short video below demonstrates how this works:

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Edit your Google Docs, SkyDrive, S3 or DropBox files using iWork and CloudDav !

Apple recently updated iWork to support WebDav, which is great news if you are a SMEStorage user because it means that you can edit your Storage Cloud files even if the underlying storage clouds does not support WebDav as is the case for DropBox, Amazon S3, Microsoft SkyDrive, and DropBox.

CloudDav is our implementation of WebDav that overlays all the storage clouds we support, whether the underlying storage cloud supports it or not. This is another value add of our Cloud Gateway appliance which tries to fill the holes left in some of the silod storage clouds and lets you get access to your files the way you want rather than the way that is prescribed.

CloudDav is a $5  paid add-on but it is available to any user, free or paying. You can choose to purchase it from the sidebar after login.

If you intend to be a new (or are an existing) iSMEStorage user, send us a screenshot of the login screen with your username and we’ll enable CloudDav for you for free ! (available until the end of 2010).

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