By John Holliday
The term "document management" has become a catch-all phrase for anything having to do with documents in an enterprise setting. It is an overly broad term that covers many different aspects of managing documents, from access control to version control to the auditing, review, and approval of content. To understand what document management means in the SharePoint environment, it helps to consider the evolution of document management systems over the last decade or so. It also helps to appreciate the value that SharePoint provides as a development platform for document management solutions.
Early document management systems were focused primarily on keeping track of revisions to documents that involved multiple authors, and operated in a manner similar to source code control systems. Individual authors checked out documents, thereby locking them so that other authors could not overwrite their changes. System administrators could specify who had permission to view or edit documents, and could generate reports of document activity. Other functions included the ability to automatically number each major or minor revision and revert at any time to a specific version of the document, generating the final content from information stored within the database.
The notion of metadata became a key characteristic of legacy document management systems. Metadata is information about a document, as opposed to the document content ...