ORCA — guide

Understanding What Is | Imagining What Can Be

Basic Usage

This page is designed for Firefox 2.0 running on Windows XP. (If you use an earlier version, you can download the latest Firefox from www.mozilla.com.)

You can return to select another browser here: ORCA Help.

This document describes the most common tasks you're likely to perform on ORCA. It shows, screen by screen, how to log on to your shared workspace and how to read, upload, and edit documents there.


Logon screen for ORCA Before you access your shared folder, you'll be required to logon to your ORCA account.

NOTE: Your ORCA user name might match your UW NetID, but the password does not match. Use the password Shane Fricks sent you via e-mail.

You might find it useful to open your shared site in a second window. Then, you can switch between this guide and the real site with Alt-Tab.

You might also wish to add ORCA to your bookmarks for future reference.

Open Shared Documents

ORCA Home Page Once you've logged on, you'll see ORCA's home page.

Click "Shared Documents" to get started.

ORCAs list of documents You'll then see all documents which have been uploaded.

If you click a document's name, you'll only see its properties.

To read the entire document, click the Word icon.

Read a Document in Word

Open the document automatically Allow your browser to open the file with Microsoft Word.

This will download a temporary copy of the document to your computer. Word will display it once the transfer is complete.

Create and Upload a New Document

Create a file in Microsoft Word as you normally would. Save it under a unique name (one not already used on the shared site).

If you prefer to use another editor, such as Word Perfect or Open Office, use "File", "Save As" to save a copy of your document as File Type: MS Word 97/2000/2002/2003 or Rich Text Format (RTF).

Once your document is ready, upload it to ORCA's Shared Documents.

Steps to Upload Your File

Upload the document Return to the Shared Documents page on ORCA. Click "Upload Document" from the menu that runs along the top of the screen.

Upload field You'll be taken to the "Upload Document" page.

Click the "Browse" button to open a view of your computer.

Find Your File

Select file from list Navigate to the folder that contains your document.

In this example, the browser expects to find files on the Desktop, and our "sample" file exists in My Documents.

Select file from list When you locate the file, double click its name to prepare for uploading.

Start the Upload

Save and close Click "Save and Close" to initiate the upload.

Once the upload is complete, you'll be taken back to the Shared Documents page where your newly-uploaded file should appear.

NOTE: ORCA mimics many features you may be familiar with on your computer. However, it's a web application. Retrieving or saving files to ORCA might be more leisurely than you expect — especially if you connect to the internet through a dial-up modem. Be sure each page has completed loading before you attempt to move from one operation to another.

To Cancel Uploading

Abort upload

If you decide against uploading, click "Go Back to Document Library" to abandon the process and return to the shared documents.

Clicking the "Back" button of your browser, or tapping ALT-LeftArrow will return to the document library, too.

Update Your Shared Document

Method 1 — Edit the Local Copy

If you are working on the computer that holds the most recent version of your document, simply revise it, and repeat the steps to upload it, outlined above.

Method 2 — Edit the Shared Copy

Save a document to disk Perhaps you wrote your document at home, but are now at work and wish to revise it. In this case, save the document to disk first, then open it with Word as you normally would.

If your browser automatically downloads files to a specific folder, such as your Desktop, be sure to look there for your document.

(Your browser might have been configured to use a different folder by default. Common destinations include: the "Desktop", a "downloads" folder on the "Desktop", "My Documents", or "My Downloads" inside "My Documents".)

Once your changes are complete, repeat the steps for uploading, outlined above.

Wait — Where are my changes?

clear private data dialog Firefox tries to keep the web peppy by retrieving recently-viewed documents from its cache. Usually, this is a good thing, but not in this case.

If you open your document shortly after uploading a revised version, Firefox will grab the original copy from its cache and hand that out-of-date version to Word.

Although your new version really will be available for others to view, it will appear to you as though you've lost your changes.

To avoid this, you can clear Firefox's cache prior to opening a freshly-uploaded document. Click "Tools", "Clear Private Data" (or Ctrl-Shift-Del).
Uncheck all but the "Cache", then click "Clear Private Data Now".

Version Control diagram of version gotcha

You create your original document at home, save it in My Documents, and upload it to your ORCA site.

Later, you revise your document while on campus, and upload the new version. You now have an old version of the text on your home computer, and a newer version on ORCA. You return home and download the newer version to make more changes.

Assume your browser downloads files to your Desktop. You will now have two versions of your profile on your home computer — the original in My Documents, the revised on the Desktop.

To avoid confusion, you might wish to delete the original version in My Documents and work exclusively on the new version downloaded to your Desktop (or whatever folder your browser uses). Alternatively, you might prefer to move the newly-downloaded version into My Documents, overwriting the original, before you make further revisions. (Of course, you can also alter the download location so that downloaded files arrive in My Documents by default.)

Additional Help

ORCA offers a host of useful features to aid on-line collaboration. Working in Orca outlines a few of them, showing how to:

  • change your document's name or title
  • check documents out and in
  • manage alerts about document changes
  • retrieve earlier versions of documents
  • participate in discussions