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We have non-technical staff members who want to collaborate on large files (~500MB). [I believe the files are SMART Notebook files with embedded videos and flash components].

I'm not quite sure what they mean when they say "collaborate", as I've heard they'd be happy to have a central gatekeeper to put files up for sharing; this may make the problem more tractable.

Collaborating on files, of course, makes me think of version control -- but 500 MB binaries are a poor fit.

There is always the possibility or storing data on the internet, but I think it'll be too slow.

We have a dozen buildings, each with a Unix server (Mac OS X Server 10.5.8) in them, connected via a fast WAN. I could certainly set up network shares and use rsync to synchronize a master out (and perhaps sync in both directions), and then share the files via AFP, SMB, WebDav, or even regular HTTP. Indeed, having some sort of web interface might be ideal, as they could then comment on the files and make minor issues known that way to the gatekeeper, rather than pushing modified files back up.

Users would need to be able to use the system with OS X. Support for other platforms is a plus.

Any suggestions as to what I should pursue?

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My school district Customer has these SMART Board devices and the accompanying SMART Notebook software (on a Windows platform). The "collaboration" there has amounted to users saving the files on file server computers.

The SMART Notebook software version that I've worked with don't have any version control functionality (even something as basic as "Track Changes"), and the "collaboration" that I've been witness to has users making slight modifications to a "Notebook" created by another user and then saving the modified version into their personal storage loction. Since the SMART Notebook software doesn't have a concept of "versions" within a single file, we end up with multiple files that share the vast majority of their content but have to be saved as distinct files.

My take on this is that there's less of a technical problem here and more one of user education re: file organization. I'd start with a shared file area on a server computer accessible via whatever file sharing protocols you're used to using. I'd work with the users to develop a folder hierarchy to store files and a communications method (verbal, email, etc) to communicate which "revs" of various Notebook files are "authoritative". You could try using something like Subversion to control revs to the files but I think you'll be unlikely to have success with a non-technical audience.

Giving the users a central file storage area is, at the least, hopefully going to curb rampant storage of versions of Notebook files in multiple "personal" file storage areas. Maybe you can even get people to communicate with each other and end up with "authoritative" versions of Notebook files used by multiple users, rather than having multitudes of customized files laying around.

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