The most well-organized companies keep track of all the documents they have sent to customers in their document management system. It is very useful to be able to retrieve every document about a customer or a project. But the work of storing these documents can itself often take up quite a bit of time for staff. Each report must be saved in the document management system as well as be sent by email to the customer.
That is not the case in OpenERP. To automatically make OpenERP reports available in the FTP server, OpenERP automatically uses virtual files. You can put virtual files into directories that have the special type of linked resource and link the virtual files to OpenERP's reports.
Virtual files do not actually exist in OpenERP but are made visible with a size of 0 in the FTP server. Once these files have been read by the client software, OpenERP prints the document related to this file and returns a PDF document linked to the resource.
When you copy or open a virtual file you print the selected resource. You do not then have to go and print a document through OpenERP – you just open the file containing that document in the document management system. The PDF file is then created in real time by OpenERP by reading the relevant data.
The screen Virtual files for Sales Orders in OpenERP shows the parameters of the virtual files in All Sales Order. You define the virtual files using the name ORDERNUM_print.pdf, where ORDERNUM represents the reference to the order. To do this, you must check the option Include Record Name of the file for a directory. You can then find a virtual file for each report associated with an order.
To see the effect of this configuration, connect to the FTP server and go into a directory for an order such as Documents ‣ Sales Order ‣ All Sales Order ‣ SO003. You can then just click the file SO003_print.pdf to get a printout of Order SO003. You can attach it to an email or put it on your desktop.
This system of virtual files is very useful in a lot of situations. For example, if you must quickly re-send a quotation to a customer, you do not have to open OpenERP, you can just attach the relevant virtual file to your email.
Importantly, once files have been read or copied, they become real files, taking up real space, rather than just virtual. This means that you can keep a legal record of all documents that have been created and sent to customers and suppliers.