Search your Dropbox

No reason to evangelize collaboration without taking a closer look at how people actually do their work. One of the outstanding facts of today´s digital workplace is, that it is increasingly tied up with cloud based applications.  What has started with consumer services years ago, has spilled over into the world of business. Services like Google Docs or Dropbox are runaway success stories and deeply entrenched in the minds of the digitally enabled workforce. Such services see mass-adoption and are perceived and used as extremely helpful means to get one´s business act together. 

A typical Dropbox setup
Talking about Dropbox: I just noted down my actual Dropbox setup:
  • What I have in place is first of all my own Dropbox folder. I have opted for the 50 GB Dropbox and i keep a couple hundred files in a couple dozen folders there. 
  • Then, there are the various Dropboxes shared with me by others. I´m working mainly with small business clients, and practically all of them have given me access to one or multiple of their Dropbox folders for easy sharing and retrieval of documents. 
  • Oh, and there is the folder shared by my better half with the vacation plans and some private stuff.

In fact, this is quite a considerable conglomerate of files and it is what I believe to be a more or less typical scenario.

One problem solved, another one introduced
Here´s where some practical problems start:
A document shared with me often comes along with a piece of email, pointing me to the exact place, where this document is stored in the Dropbox. Without such notification, I´m hardly able to locate it. Someone "cleaning up" the Dropbox, renaming folders or shifting files to other places, and I get lost entirely. Hectic email conversations follow ("Wasn´t this salesdeck.pptx in the subfolder "presentations" in the folder "sales"?" - "No, I renamed it to "product_proposal.ppt" and put it in into the "prospects" folder, which is a new one btw ....").
In the essence, Dropbox solves the problem of sharing data ressources extremely well, but it introduces a new need, which is to stay informed about the flurry of activities happening inside: As the business goes, people keep adding, modifying, renaming, deleting files constantly. Some do it disciplined and stick to some sort of policy or convention (praise yourself lucky), others, well,  others just stuff it somehow somewhere into the box. Finding documents in Dropbox can be a real pain.  
Find files and find in files
Adding Dropbox connectivity to Refinder addresses this problem. Once a Dropbox connector is enabled, Refinder mirrors Dropbox activities into its Activity Stream. By doing so, Refinder extends into a new frontend for your Dropbox. Refinder turns Dropbox content into social objects, which you can put in collections, comment, like, share within a team of collaborators or add relations to them.
Furthermore, Refinder acts as search engine for Dropbox content.
Not only can you search for files by querying filenames. In Refinder you can even search for terms contained within your Dropbox documents.
No worries about the integrity of your Dropbox files: Refinder does not alter Dropbox content - it just represents, what is contained in a connected Dropbox folder.
A digital workplace showcase
The Refinder - Dropbox integration is a digital workplace showcase. Going beyond mere integration between two cloud apps, Refinder demonstrates, how added functionality like cross-application search and the capturing of app activities in a shared and manageable activity stream improves productivity and eases away a lot of work pains.