From command lines and URLs
The line between URLs and fileshares are blurring. In any browser you type file:/// to open a file. In Konqueror you type smb:// to address a windows share and most file open dialogues allow to specify a file location starting with http://. However there are subtle differences. Unless your web server supports the webDAV protocol chances are high, that the files will be read only. MS Exchange and MS Sharepoint both use webDAV (This might be the reason why it is depreciated in Exchange 12 - you love to rewrite your apps anyway).
A big headache still remains. When clicking on a link in the browser, the document behind will be downloaded to temp and then opened. Even if you could write it back, your Office application wouldn't know where to write it to. So the drill for e.g. Sharepoint users is: "Right Click - Open With". You can count the support call logs......
I'm working on a strategy to solve that. A tiny helper application webDAVhelper.exe will "listen" to webdav:// URLs, look for the application matching the file extension and then call this one with http:// on the command line. so the URL webdav://myserver/files/BigFatCalculation.xls translates to excel.exe http://myserver/files/BigFatCalculation.xls.
Works like a charm... almost.
In fact we are using the command line and hope that an URL would work. So far it looks promising: OpenOffice and Microsoft Office master opening the files very well. Microsoft Office even issues a webDAV lock to hold on to the file. Paintshop Pro 8, Winzip 9SR1, Acrobat 6 all fail to take an URL on the command line, they only allow to specify it in the File - Open dialogue. I will investigate a little more. Nevertheless it is quite strange, that reading the file from the command line has been implemented differently from using File - Open.
In case you are interested in the little tool, drop me a note.