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Management of Document Versions and Conflicts in a Social File Synchronization System

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000236011D
Publication Date: 2014-Apr-02
Document File: 2 page(s) / 44K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

Disclosed are a method and system for synchronizing files and keeping all updates, versions, and conflicts in a single location in order to allow user collaboration around conflicts and minimize the problems associated with visibility changes over time.

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Management of Document Versions and Conflicts in a Social File Synchronization System

In a system that synchronizes files between a client and server, management of updates and conflicts presents unique challenges when the system allows the sharing of files between users. This disclosure describes a method to address those challenges, realizing the benefits used by popular approaches to these challenges

while mitigating the disadvantages.

Two approaches are widely used for managing updates on the server. The first replaces the existing file content every time a save command is invoked. Replacing on each save, while simple, does not allow users to navigate back through the update history and revert to a previous version of the file. The second method creates new copies (i.e. versions) of each update to allow users to revert to previous versions. Saving each update as a version enables complete history traversal, but dramatically increases storage consumption. While differential storage of versions provides some relief, the actual benefit relies heavily on file formats that are not compressed. Many modern file types (e.g., images, movies, documents, etc.) use compressed file formats.

Two approaches are used to manage update conflicts when two or more users attempt to save (different) changes to a file at the same time. The first is to prevent the update and keep the change local to each client machine. With this method, the conflicts are only visible from the client machine on which the file(s) is stored. In a collaborative environment, this limits resolution of the conflict to the person that introduced it. In many cases, it is desirable for other contributors to resolve the conflict. The second approach is to save the updates as separate conflict documents on the server. This allows other contributors to see the conflict and participate in its resolution; however, the file must be stored in such a way that visibility is consistent with that of the original file, which is a complicated factor. As

visibility of the original file changes over time, the visibility of any conflict files must also change.

A system is needed that can synchronize files and can keep all updates, versions, and conflicts in a single location in order to allow user collaboration around conflicts and to minimize the problems associated with visibility changes over time.

The novel contribution is a method and system to manage document versions and conflicts in a social file synchronization system. The system operates via the following rules:

1. Replace the existing version with updates, providing the updates come from the same editor and occur within a defined period since a prior update

2. Create a new version when an update occurs from a different editor or from the same editor after exhausting a defined period

3. Create a new version and mark it as a conflict when an update occurs that conflicts with...