I have a large document management system that manages 1000s of documents. The organisation of this needs to be tightly controlled so it doesn't turn into a mess.

The way it works right now is that if you want to create a new document you first must have to declare its type. the system will then save it to a particular place according to business rules defined by the type.

The problem is that users are used to navigating to a particular point in the system, creating a document and expecting the document to be created there and they are not used to having to define types and classes. What makes matters worse is that on creation the system does not warn users the document isnt going to be created in the current location but somewhere dictated by strict business rules.

For advanced users they expect this behaviour and will expect documents to 'auto file' as it were.

My question: there must be a way of combining the best of both worlds into one system whereby a user is free to create documents wherever they want and for the file to be created in that location if required but still retain some level of auto-filing?

The only way I can think of doing it is to limit the number of document types according to where you are in the system. So if you are in a folder of type A you can only create documents that are members of folder A and no others. But this approach means that a user wanting to create a document from anywhere (an advanced user) cannot do this.

really stuck and very hard problem


the user, when creating a document, has to specify lots of additional meta data which effectively defines the creation path. Couldn't this be handled by tree navigation?

edit 2 here is a grab of a typical document creation screen enter image description here

its a ballache i know. The only point you need to worry about is the asset/program; project and contract fields because they tell the system where to put the document.

But dont you sense this definition could be handled to some extent by the users position in the hierarchy?

I am so stuck

  • How many types of document are there?
    – JonW
    Oct 3, 2014 at 12:41
  • there can be a range, exceptionally up to 100, the confusing thing is that they may be of the same format eg word, pdf, but its the meta data around them which marks them out. Just throwing that back at ya ;)
    – colmcq
    Oct 3, 2014 at 12:49
  • I am clearing out unnecessary 'noise' comments if they get flagged or are unnecessary.
    – JonW
    Oct 6, 2014 at 9:53

2 Answers 2


A user should be able to create a document anywhere in your system. Declaring its type is totally fine, as is it auto-filing the document.

Assuming that to be true, after the user picks the type and saves the document, show a temporary notification in the UI acknowledging the system saved the document with a link to where it filed location.

Another thing I would suggest is creating a place for a user to see all and only documents they have added...regardless of type/filing.

Hope this helps!

  • my colleague suggested dropping the browse function completely because its too hard to fix. We can locate to any document using the search function and we will have a 'work area' where all created documents will reside. This approach will be user tested this week.
    – colmcq
    Oct 6, 2014 at 8:58

Could you use an initial prompt when you choose to create the document, and split that dialog in two sections - those that are available in this location and those that aren't? But still give them feedback / info about how they can create the documents they want.

Something like this perhaps?


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

  • thanks jon. I'm going to upload a grab of the file creation template screen for you...
    – colmcq
    Oct 3, 2014 at 13:03

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