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Collaborative editing and version tracking packages

Some packages have version tracking mechanisms, but the user can be limited to using one program, (sometimes others may be compatible, but unless they are completely compatible, problems may not show up until it is too late to solve them).  Generally different versions of the same program will have compatible versioning information, for example Microsoft Word 6 and 97/2000.

For work in an environment that enforces the use of only a particular software package, then it may be possible to just use the in-built abilities of the particular package.

On the other hand, when an organisation needs to collaborate with people outside of that organisation, or they allow their staff to use different applications for the same purpose, then there are more factors that need to be taken into consideration.  The people that the organisation wants to collaborate with may not have a package that supports collaboration in the same way as their package, and even if it does, there can be problems when information is saved in different incompatible formats.  This could cause delays in the collaboration and cause major problems if there are time sensitive issues associated with the collaboration.

Version tracking information

It is tempting when dealing with the problem of what to do when people need to work with others who work in places using different packages, or work with others outside the organisation, to avoid any question of version tracking.  This is achieved by keeping very little in the way of version information; maybe a copy each time a change is made, assuming of course that there are backup copies available of the latest version at all times.  Often this may be enough information, but in a complex document someone may need to know who changed what and when, or what changes a particular person made, or other specific change information.

If all that is needed in a package is the ability to save a version occasionally as a backup (for example, a copy of the document as at the end of each week), then any package will work much the same as any other.  Unfortunately this will result in the loss of information about who changed what, although when the change was made can be narrowed down by the length of time between the backups.

Simple backups may not be enough if the document being created is large, complex or involves many people.

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