Hi there!

Box is a service that allows you to share files efficiently and securely within your organization, and one of the many things that make Box a great service is that it’s easy to share with people outside your organization.

This article will show you how to set up Box features that can be shared with people outside your organization automatically instead of manually.

1. Box Cloud Storage

Box is a cloud storage service for businesses. The Box case studies page lists over 100,000 customers and 67% are Fortune 500 companies (confirmed 2022-02-15).

Box makes it easy to share files and folders within an organization. In addition, you can share files and folders not only within the same organization, but also with people outside the organization.

In business, it is necessary to share files with people outside the organization in various ways, for example:

  • When submitting quotations or proposals to customers
  • Sharing requirement definitions and design files with contractors in a system development project
  • Preparing a folder to accept delivery of CAD files of drawings from clients

Box provides the functionality to fulfill such requirements.

  • Collaboration
  • Shared links

Both of the above two functions are used to share files and folders with people outside the organization. How are they used differently?

1-1. Difference Between Shared Links and Collaboration with Box

The difference between collaboration and shared links depends on the following:

  • Are you sharing with people outside your organization who use Box?
  • Are you sharing with people who are not using Box?

Collaboration allows you to share files and folders with people outside your organization who are using Box.

When using collaboration, enter the email addresses of external collaborators who have Box accounts using the « Share » feature for files and folders. At this time, you can specify permissions to the file or folder as follows.

  • File
    • Editor: Download, preview, share, and edit
    • Viewer: Download, preview, and share
  • Folder
    • Co-owners: Manage security, upload, download, preview, share, edit, and delete
    • Editor: Upload, download, preview, share, edit, and delete
    • Viewer Uploader: Upload, download, preview, share, and edit
    • Previewer Uploader: Upload and preview
    • Viewer: Download, preview, and Share
    • Previewer: Preview only
    • Uploader: Upload only

With low level permissions, you can only view files, but with high level permissions, you can do almost anything to that folder or file, including deleting and editing.

Box Collaboration Settings Screen

On the other hand, shared links allow you to share files and folders with people who are not using Box. Use the share function in the same way as for collaboration. At this time, you can specify the scope of sharing.

  • Sharing scope
    • People with the link: Everyone who knows the URL of the file or folder
    • Company users: Users who are currently using Box and are subject to the administration of Box.
    • Invited users only: collaborators invited by the collaboration feature

People specified in the sharing scope will be able to view and download the folders and files indicated by the shared links. However, they cannot edit, delete files, or upload files to a folder. Compared to collaboration, what you can do is limited.

If you select « People with the link » in the sharing scope there is a risk that if that URL is leaked it will be seen by people you do not want to see it. To reduce this risk, you can set an expiration date and a password.

Box Shared Link Settings Screen

Collaboration is suitable for projects such as system development, where the collaborator is given greater access to files and folders, and the project is carried out in close cooperation with the outsourcer.

Shared links are suitable for easily sharing files and folders, such as submitting quotations or requested documents, because they allow you to easily share files and folders with people who do not have a Box account.

1-2. Automated Collaboration and Shared Links

Setting up collaborations and shared links isn’t too difficult, but it can be a hassle. Confirming that they have been appropriately configured and sending guidance to the sharing recipients is time-consuming.

It is also necessary to remove collaboration and shared link settings, for example at the closing of a project. It is not good for security that internal folders and files continue to be shared with people outside the company without awareness.

To automate these tasks, Box provides APIs (Application Programming Interface).

Creating a mechanism (app or system) that utilizes these APIs can automate the aforementioned tasks, but it requires skills in programming. Even if you have the skills, it will take time to understand the API specifications and create the mechanism.

Questetra BPM Suite, introduced in the next section, provides automation items using the above API. By using these items, you will be able to build a mechanism to automate collaboration and shared link settings and to automatically remove these settings when the time comes, without any code.

2. No-Code Cloud Development Platform Questetra BPM Suite

No-Code Cloud Development System Questetra BPM Suite is a cloud service provided by Questetra, Inc. and is used for in-house production of systems.

In Questetra BPM Suite, system development is performed using only a Web browser. The business system is built through the creation of workflow diagrams. In the constructed system, it is not only the business data that is digitized.

The system automates the transfer of business information from one person to another, as well as the analysis of numerical calculation data and the sending of formatted emails. Furthermore, data integration with other cloud services can also be automated.

No-Code Development Platform Questetra BPM Suite Overview
No-Code Development Platform Questetra BPM Suite Overview

Automation is achieved by placing the items to be automatically processed in the workflow diagram at the point in time when you want to automate the process (e.g. when the Quality Control Manager approves an inspection report, the inspection report file is uploaded to Box).

Various automation items available in Questetra BPM Suite allow you to easily automate your business operations. (v13.3.0)

  • Box: Upload File
  • Box: Copy File
  • Box: Move File
  • Box: Create Shared Link to File
  • Box: Delete Shared Link of File
  • Box: Delete File
  • Box: Download File
  • Box: Create Folder
  • Box: Search Folder
  • Box: Create Shared Link to Folder
  • Box: Delete Shared Link of Folder
  • Box: Delete Folder
  • Box: Add Collaboration
  • Box: Delete Collaboration

The automation items shown in bold can be used to automate sharing with Box.

Examples of the use of automated items related to shared links can be found in the following articles.

3. Summary

Cloud Storage Sharing in Box includes features called Collaboration and Shared Links.

Collaboration enables sharing with people outside the organization who have Box accounts, and Shared Link enables sharing with people who do not have Box accounts.

Each must be used for different purposes, but the procedures related to setting up and deactivating them can be cumbersome. In addition, there are security issues that need to be handled reliably.

By using the automation items provided in the no-code development platform Questetra BPM Suite, you can build a system in which collaboration and setting/unsetting of shared links are handled automatically, even if you have no knowledge or experience with Box’s API (Application Programming Interface).

Questetra BPM Suite is available for a 60-day free trial. If you are interested, please apply from the following link.

Various other types of automation are possible, but that’s all for this time!


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