Document Management


Appian provides a fully-integrated document management solution that provides version control, user-rights management, and document search features. Specialized smart services in the Process Modeler allow you to generate and integrate managed files into your processes easily.

The documents, folders, and knowledge centers that are used in your processes are represented in Appian using a local ID number and a data type. This identification allows you to write rules and expressions that intelligently select or handle thousands of documents and folders, without suffering a commensurate performance penalty.

Knowledge Centers

In Document Management, all folders and files are stored in Knowledge Centers. By creating Knowledge Centers and granting access to other users, you can share files and collaborate with other users.

Temporary Documents Knowledge Center

The Temporary Documents Knowledge Center is used to store system and process objects in transition. It can also be used for document storage by processes and users who are provisioned with rights for the Knowledge Center.

The Knowledge Center can be viewed by the Administrator user, by System Administrators, and by members of the Document Administrators group.

Files that are uploaded using the file upload component are stored in this knowledge center, but they cannot be accessed or viewed from the user interface.

Creating a Knowledge Center

Knowledge centers are created in the application view and do not have a parent.

See also: Knowledge Center Security.

Expiration Duration

By default, documents in the System Knowledge Center and My Private Knowledge Center expire after 9999 days, documents in the Temporary Documents Knowledge Center expire after one year (365 days), and documents stored in all other knowledge centers never expire. The expiration duration on a knowledge center can be figured via the public API.


Document folders can contain documents or other document folders, just like the file system on your computer.

Creating a Folder

When you create a document folder, the users who have access to a folder are inherited from the parent Knowledge Center.

You can set user rights for a folder after it is created by selecting it and clicking Security on the toolbar.

Clear the Inherit security from parent checkbox. Once this option is cleared, you can modify the existing permissions.

The access levels that you are allowed to select for the folder users are determined by their access to the knowledge center. The following are the rules on folder access levels:

  • Administrators of the parent knowledge center must be Administrators
  • Editors of the knowledge center can have Editor, Viewer, or No Access to the folder
  • Viewer users of the Knowledge Center can only have Viewer or No Access to the folder

Deleting a Folder

To delete a folder:

  1. Go to an application that contains the folder.
  2. Select it in the grid and then click the Delete button in the grid toolbar.

All files contained in the folder must be deleted before you can delete the folder.

System Administrators have the ability to delete folders (and other objects) in bulk by selecting them and clicking Delete in the toolbar. In this case, folder contents will automatically be deleted when the folder is deleted.


A document object is any file of any file type that you upload to Appian.

Documents can only be saved in document folders, not knowledge centers.

All documents uploaded into Appian have a local ID associated with them. To find the local ID of a document, view the document's properties by clicking on the document in Appian Designer.

Creating Documents

Through the New object option, you can create up to 25 documents at one time from Appian Designer. If you need to upload more than 25 files at one time use the Upload ZIP functionality mentioned later on this page. To use the New object option to create documents:

  1. Click the New menu in an application or a document folder view and select Document
  2. Upload up to 25 files from your computer in the Create Documents dialog
  3. Click Next
  4. You will then have the option to update the files' names and descriptions, as well as chose the parent folder they will be saved in.
    • The file name must be at least four characters long (including the three character file extension, such as .doc).
    • The following characters are not allowed in document names: \ / ; : | ? ' < > *
    • NOTE: If you include the file extension in the name, make sure it matches the file type by which the file was saved. If the extension in the name does not match with the uploaded file, it may not display properly.
  5. Click Create.

Adding a New Version of a Document

Document files are version controlled on the file system, so a copy of each previous file version is kept around when a new version of the document is uploaded.


To upload a new version of a document:

  1. Select the document in Appian designer
  2. Click the New Version menu item from the More menu
  3. Select the new version of the file from your local machine.
  4. You can keep the file name listed in the Name field, or modify it as needed. The file name must be at least four characters long (including the three character file extension, such as .doc).
    • NOTE: If you include the file extension in the name, make sure it matches the file type by which the file was saved. If the extension in the name does not match with the uploaded file, it may not display properly.
  5. (Optional) Edit the description of the file. The description can be viewed in the document properties.
  6. Click Upload

If the document is locked, a warning banner on the Upload New Version dialog will appear. Proceeding with the upload will break the other user's lock on the document.

Viewing a Previous Version of a Document

See the Managing Object Versions page for more information.

Deleting a Document

Only users in the Document Administrators group or users who have Administrator or Creator rights to a folder can delete files from it. Creator rights refer to the fact that a user with Editor rights for the folder cannot delete files unless that user also created the folder. Deleting a document removes the document from availability in Appian and removes the specific file (and all of its previous versions) on the server's filesystem.

To delete a file:

  1. Go to an application that contains the file.
  2. Select it in the grid and then click the Delete button in the grid toolbar.

System Administrators have the ability to delete files (and other objects) in bulk by selecting them and clicking Delete in the toolbar.

View and Edit Properties

The properties of your knowledge centers, folders, and documents can be viewed and edited by selecting the object and clicking on the Properties menu item from the More menu in Appian Designer. Documents can also be clicked on to open their Properties dialog.


Viewing Users who Downloaded a File

When viewing the properties for a document, click the View users who have downloaded this file link to display a report that lists the user name of each user who downloaded the file. You must be a knowledge center administrator for this link to be displayed.

Moving Items in your Document Hierarchy

You can move folders or documents within knowledge centers or other folders if you are an Administrator of both parents (the source as well as the destination knowledge center or folder).


  1. When viewing the folder or document in the knowledge center or document folder view, select the checkbox next to the folder.
  2. Select the Move button on the toolbar.
  3. Select the destination Knowledge Center and destination folder.

When a folder or document is moved, the history of previous versions is retained.

Downloading Document Hierarchy Contents

You can download the contents of entire knowledge centers and folders if you have permission to access them.

  1. Select the knowledge centers, folders, or documents you want to download in Appian Designer
  2. Click the More button and select Download. The download start instantly.
    • The files and folders are packaged in a ZIP file and retain the hierarchy they had in Appian

Upload a Document Hierarchy into Appian

The document folder view in Appian designer allows you to upload a ZIP file of a document hierarchy directly into Appian. Uploading this zip will create document folders and documents in Appian in the exact structure as the folders and files are inside the ZIP. This is useful when you need to create many documents at once or have a folder structure you want to bring into Appian.


  1. Compress your files into a ZIP format archive.
  2. Navigate to the document folder that you'd like this hierarchy to be created in
  3. Click Upload ZIP
  4. Select the ZIP archive from your computer. Click Upload.

Any illegal characters used in filenames by files in your ZIP archive are replaced with hyphen (-) characters upon upload.

Process Reports

Process report objects are also stored as documents in Appian, as Appian Report Files (.arf). They can be created, edited, and moved in document folders just like document objects.

See also: Process Reports