Manage Your Information With Wintility Pro

By Drew Bird | Posted March 13, 2003
As anyone who has ever lost a file or document will testify, keeping track of even a few hundred documents on a single computer can be a monumental task. In business environments, where the numbers of documents can be in the hundreds of thousands and the storage locations disparate, the problem becomes even more acute.

For many, an even greater consideration is not where the files are — there are many tools that can help keep track of documents — but what information is actually in them. In other words you may know where the documents are, but you may not always be completely sure of their contents.

Fortunately, for those of us who are organizationally challenged, PX Technologies created Wintility, a program designed to reduce the problem of lost productivity caused by difficult to locate and unstructured information stored in documents and other types of files.

While the original purpose of Wintility was as an organizational tool, the latest versions of the product go far beyond that single function to become content management systems that lets users capture, manage, and deliver information, documents and e-mail messages throughout the entire intranet. It allows multiple users to access their information from anywhere, at any time, through a local intranet or an Internet browser. It even allows simultaneous document sharing.

Working with Wintility is a painless process and it installs like any other Windows-based program. Right after installation, the program scans your hard disk for file types of your choice and builds a catalog of documents and files. Almost any type of file can be included in the catalog including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF and graphics files. The catalogs themselves only provide references to documents — the actual documents remain saved in their original, physical locations on the disks throughout the network. These catalogs form the basis of a peer-to-peer file sharing system over the intranet/Internet.

Once the catalog process is completed, the program displays the catalog in a browseable and searchable format. In addition to regular files, you can also choose to catalog e-mail messages from mail clients like Outlook and Outlook Express, so you can search for all files and e-mail messages by keyword or topic. Because many organizations still have large quantities of paper-based materials, it's also possible to have records in the catalog that refer to hard copy publications and files. That way, when a topic is searched, the entire catalog including all of the external references is searched providing the most comprehensive results available.

The catalogs created in Wintility can be shared by users within a workgroup irrespective of where the documents are located. This approach makes it possible for one or all members of a team to create catalogs for searches. With the catalog's created, they can now be searched against criteria. Perhaps the most significant aspect of Wintility at this point is that it searches the catalogs afresh each time, thereby catching any changes that have been made to files since the last search. This ensures that the results delivered by the search are always as accurate as possible.

Included with the "Pro" version of Wintility is a feature called WebWintility. WebWintility allows access to catalog information from a browser, and in addition, allows simultaneous multi-user document sharing. Essentially, the WebWintility service provides a portal whereby users can share their information to the intranet/Internet. The WebWintility Portal is comprised of HTML, images, scripts, a java applet, and database to authenticate users and computers that are trying to access the catalogs. As with the standard Wintility system, catalogs and documents remain in their original location when using the WebWintility feature.

When a user tries to access catalogs through the Internet, the computer must establish an http connection with the WebWintility portal to see if the catalog is available and get the IP address of the computer where the catalog is stored. If the catalog is available, the remote user's computer tries to establish a socket connection. If a socket connection can't be established, the browser automatically tries to establish an http connection with the relay system. This Java-based relay system then establishes a socket connection with the desired computer. Wintility users can choose to use the relay system located inside PX Technologies or install it into their system.

The ability to easily organize and share documents over the intranet/Internet is certainly impressive, but the question remains: how do these features help an organization on a daily basis? Ilan Goldman, CEO of PX Technologies, explains:

"This program isn't something that just takes up space in the computer and users go to it once in awhile for searches and specific tasks. It really becomes part of the production process of the company. It is a communal workspace that enables everyone to communicate and collaborate in a variety of different ways. Wintility's tools let all users put documents into workflow, send instant messages, or hold real-time conferences, tools that facilitate all stages of the document and information lifecycle. It arranges everything into a logical library for each workgroup, it takes information from all of the computers in the workgroup and arranges it."

In a real-world scenario, Tom Dohn, CEO of Wisconsin Independent Business, Inc., confirms Wintility's usefulness. "We had lots of procedures and unwritten information that was essential but wasn't really being shared effectively with new employees and people in different departments. Wintility really helped us to work together and get everyone on the same page. We installed it and immediately started using it. Really simple. Within a week each department had a catalog and we were accessing everything we need to get things done."

There are four main versions of the Wintility product: Wintility Plus, designed for individual users; Wintility Pro, Corporate Edition for medium to large companies; Wintility Pro Small Business, aimed at small companies or workgroups limited to five users; and Wintility Pro Studio designed for the home office. As far as pricing is concerned, Wintility Plus costs $59 for a single user license, Wintility Pro Studio runs $199 for a master copy and a single client license, Wintility Pro Small Business is $699 for one master and five client licenses and finally, the full version of Wintility Pro costs $649 for one master and a single client license. Additional client licenses for Wintility Pro can be purchased on a per seat basis.

PX Technologies will soon release Wintility Pro 2.5. The new version will offer a partial word content search, making it possible to create even more detailed and focused search criteria.

In a time when the term "ROI" is bandied about freely by everyone, particularly software makers, it's interesting to see a product like Wintility that not only offers a real benefit to information burdened organizations, but also within a realistic pricing structure. This magic combination of a useful solution at an affordable price brings that highly sought after ROI within reasonable reach.

If you are unsure of where your information assets are, you should give Wintility a try. If you are sure, I suggest you consider it even more seriously.

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