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Managing Files in EPiServer CMS 5 Using Windows Explorer

Introduction

Wouldn’t  it be great to be able to be able to manage your documents and images directly in Windows Explorer, instead of having to open the EPiServer CMS file manager to upload documents and images? This is possible in EPiServer CMS 5, using the WebDAV technique. This article deals with the benfits of using WebDAV to manage files with Windows Explorer in EPiServer CMS 5.

What is WebDAV?

WebDAV means "Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning", and is a set of extensions to the HTTP protocol which allows users to collaboratively edit and manage files on remote web servers. This means that you can create, copy, move and delete files for EPiServer CMS, using for instance the normal Windows Explorer on your computer. This is especially handy if you are often creating information for the Web server using applications outside EPiServer CMS.

You can also save new documents from within an application such as Word, directly into the EPiServer CMS file system using the same technology. Drag-and-drop can be applied to multiple files with no need for extra components. The WebDAV technique in connection with EPiServer CMS also allows for developers to create new exciting functionality such as various report providers.

In the following you will find out how to set up Windows Explorer for managing EPiServer CMS files, how to work with files and how it will look from inside EPiServer CMS 5.

Connecting Your Web Site to Windows Explorer

Before you can begin managing your files from Windows Explorer, the WebDAV folder must be configured in the web.config file of your EPiServer CMS Web site. Check with your system administrator to verify if this has been done, and to find the URL and name for your WebDAV folder.

Next, your Web site must be connected to Windows Explorer as a network unit. If this does not take place automatically when you log in (meaning that it has already been set up), you can do it manually in Windows Explorer.

Perform the steps below to map Windows Explorer to your Web site.

1.       Open Windows Explorer and select Map Network Drive under the Tools menu option.

Map network drive step one

2.       The following dialogue box will open:

Map network drive step two

3.       Select a drive letter (example X:), and enter the URL for your Web site followed by the name of the designated WebDAV folder, example “http://www.mysite.com/webfolder”.

NOTE: If you log on to your Web site with a different user name than the Windows user you are normally using for your network, then click Connect using a different user name and enter the user name and password in the dialog that appears.

4.       Click Finish.

You should now have a new drive under the My Computer section in Windows Explorer that links directly to your shared folder, possibly protected by a log in.

Find out more about setting up and connecting WebDAv in EPiServer CMS 5.

 

If you have successfully mapped the Windows Explorer drive, you should be able to see your  Web site folder structure in both Windows Explorer and the EPiServer CMS file manager, compare images below.

Windows Explorer file view 
Windows Explorer web folder view

 

EPiServer CMS file manager view
EPiServer CMS 5 file manager view

 

NOTE: in this example the WebDAV folder is mapped to the ”Global Files” starting point in the file manager of the Web site, which means that only folders in the sub-structure under ”Global Files” will be visible in Windows Explorer. The WebDAV folder mapping  is done in the web.config file of EPiServer CMS, and can be set to any starting point in the file manager.
 

Managing Folders and Files in EPiServer CMS 5 From Windows Explorer

You are now ready to start working. In the following you will be given a few examples to illustrate the functionality and the benefits.
 

Managing folders on the Web server

You can easily create, move and delete folders directly in Windows Explorer, without having to first open the EPiServer CMS file manager. Building folder structures and moving around folders using drag-and-drop is easier from the Windows Explorer view than in the EPiServer CMS file manager, since drag-and-drop is not available in the file manager.

Managing folders in Windows Explorer

 

The changes you do will be directly reflected in your Web site folder structure as well (note that in order for the changes to be seen in the EPiServer CMS file manager, you may need to refresh the view if you have the file manager open at the same time).
 

Saving documents from other applications directly to the Web server

When you have created a document for instance in Microsoft Word, you can save the document directly in the Web server folder structure by selecting the drive where you have mapped your Web folder, and then select the folder on the Web server where you want the document to be placed.

Saving document in Word to Web folder

This is a much easier way to add a document to the Web server, instead of first having to save it on your computer, then open EPiServer CMS  and upload the file to the file manager there.

You can save files to the Web server from any application, not only Microsoft Office applications. Imagine for instance that you are working with images for your Web site, using Adobe Photoshop. You can then save your images directly from Photoshop to an image folder on your Web site.
 

Uploading multiple files to the Web server using drag-and-drop

Uploading multiple files from your computer using drag-and-drop is easy, and does not require installation of an extra component, which is needed if you want to be able to upload files to the EPiServer CMS file manager with drag-and-drop.

Just select the files you want to upload for instance from a folder on your computer, and drag them to the Web folder drive and the selected folder where you want to place your files.

Uploading multiple files to Web server


If you look in the EPiServer CMS file manager, you will find your uploaded files in the same folder.
 

File view in EPiServer CMS file manager

 
NOTE:
if you have the EPiServer CMS file manager open at the same time, you may need to refresh the file manager view in order for your changes to be reflected.

 

Related reading
 

WebDAV Resources

Setting up and connecting WebDAv in EPiServer CMS 5

Migrating from CMS 4.62 to CMS 5 R1 and using WebDAV for migrating files

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