Public and Shared Folders

Public folders, aka. shared folders, are folders used to share information between multiple users or groups of users. As they are separate from any one individual user’s mailbox, with public and shared folders it does not matter who leaves or joins the team, group or organization. The user’s mailbox may be deleted, but Public folders and Shared folders remain.

Both terms indicate the same thing, while each also introduces some ambiguity; Public folders are not really available to the general public, neither are they necessarily available to all users of a deployment. Similarly, the “shared folders” version is often confused with “folders that are shared”. The terminology “public folder” and “shared folder” can be used interchangeably, as they mean the same thing.

Various use-cases are served best with public folders, and may involve other Kolab features such as delegation. Below are just a few examples of use-cases served with public folders.

Public Email Folders

Using a public folder for common and/or shared email addresses, such as  the obligatory info@, contact@, webmaster@, etc. allows groups of users to monitor what is effectively an inbound queue of tasks — responding to people attempting to contact your organization.

When users read and answer individual emails from this queue, it is important to establish a work-flow for dealing with the email. When one user treats a given email, all other users monitoring the same queue should be allowed to recognize this email is already getting treated. This can be achieved through a feature called “Shared \Seen state”, in combination with a mandatory BCC allowing the mail sent in response to be added back to the shared folder without human intervention.

Public Calendars

Public calendars can be used for any event calendar that should be shared to and/or maintained by multiple people. Release calendars for the software development team, service windows for the IT team, national holidays and office closures, on-call duty schedules and project milestones and deadlines. The type of events is usually something worth sharing, but without much in terms of attendance.

If John, Jack and Joe man the reception desk throughout the week, it could be useful to document who’s at the reception desk on which days and hours, and share that information with the team and its manager.

Through a Kolab feature called “Resource Management”, reservations can be made to conference rooms and other such resources (company cars, planes, … etc.).

Public Tasks

The tasks in Kolab track To-Do items that may be assigned to various people. If a team works on lists of To-Do items, this list should be stored in a shared tasks folder.

Users can be allowed to create new tasks in this folder, assign tasks to one another, prioritize tasks, set target completion dates (aka. deadlines), create sub-tasks and mark tasks as in progress or completed. Assignment of a task usually means the assignee will be requested to accept the task assignment through mail, so a work-flow is easily formulated and maintained.

Public Address Books

Each address book is a collection of contacts and distribution groups that allows users to share their contacts. For example, a sales department may maintain their customer’s contact information in a public address book, so that the contacts do not disappear when someone in Sales leaves the company (and their personal mailbox is deleted).

Furthermore, mobile devices can select which address book to synchronize with. On a personal level, this keeps the mailing list addresses and other seemingly useless contact information off of one’s iPhone, while they could still be synchronized with one’s Galaxy tablet.

Public File Cloud

Public folders for Files can be used to share templates and documentation and contracts and other such files among a group of people. A truly public file folder shared with all users could, for example, hold letter head and presentation templates, fonts and company guidelines, policies, and such collateral generally shared across the board. Other public file folders could contain offers to customers, perhaps only shared with sales and management.