by Sam Bock on February 12, 2020
You’ve probably heard it before: A key benefit of working in Relativity is the flexibility of the platform. It’s a workhorse out of the box, but it can do a lot more—if you know how to leverage it.
But how do you get started with making it your own?
The answer lies in Relativity Dynamic Objects (RDOs)—commonly referred to as custom objects. At Relativity Fest 2019, Jens Tobiasson—senior consultant in e-discovery at H5—walked attendees through the creation and use of these objects.
As it turns out, the low-hanging fruit for any team looking to dip their toes into customizing Relativity is a universal need: improving project management. Read on for insights from Jens on how to reap the rewards of experimenting with RDOs in Relativity to streamline workflows and centralize project information.
What are Dynamic Objects?
Put simply, objects are “a single instance of data structure in Relativity,” said Jens.
You can read more about them in Relativity documentation—here’s a good starting point. But, to summarize, there are two kinds of objects in the platform.
The first are system objects, which come with Relativity by default and are not configurable. “These are the building blocks of Relativity,” Jens explained.
The other type is RDOs, also known as custom objects. These are objects the user can create and define.
These objects can be used to add new data points to a workspace and create additional dimensions for understanding how documents and data interact. They are comprised of fields (which define their data structure), layouts (which allow users to input and edit information), views (which display the information and allow sorting and reporting), and a tab (which is automatically created and allows users to interact with the object).
It might sound complicated in theory, but in practice, working with RDOs can be very simple.
How Do They Work?
When you create an object, you’ll need to set some standard fields. Doing this well requires some forethought and planning—creating objects on a whim without a good plan for how to incorporate them into your workflows will only create a messier workspace.
Essentially, a new RDO will give you a data point at the non-document level. So you might be creating an object that will store information about custodians or data sources. When setting out to create such an object, “be creative about identifying the information you want to store and how to make that happen in tandem with documents,” Jens suggested to Fest attendees.
“Remember that you’re giving data three dimensions by adding more custom objects,” he went on. “So how are you able to take those dimensions and link them together to paint a big picture and make your life easier?”
Objects can be linked together, so be mindful of how you want these new data points to interact with others in your workspace. For example, which custodians contributed to which data sources? Which documents came from which data sources?
Additionally, objects can be used to store data extracted by transform sets, create rules and event handlers, and build applications. Saving an object or set of objects as an application creates a package you can then reuse in multiple workspaces, so you can deploy these tools on many of your cases without having to reinvent the wheel every time.
The benefits of using RDOs to track data points on custodians and other dimensions of your case are plentiful. Perhaps foremost is the fact that you’ll have all key case information centralized in Relativity, where it can be viewed and collaborated on by all team members in real time.
Ideas for Using Dynamic Objects in Your Workspaces
Jens had some interesting stories to share about how his team has used RDOs to tackle both niche and recurring challenges in their work.
He walked through four scenarios H5 had encountered where RDOs and applications helped them meet clients’ needs as efficiently as possible. They included a large antitrust action that required tracking data from 65 different entities and several collection vendors, and a multi-party litigation in which the client needed to track many components of marked exhibits.
Jens also named some existing applications built upon dynamic objects and illustrated why it’s helpful to be aware of what apps are out there and how they can be useful for your team. As he noted, it’s not just about employing them for their value-adds, but also learning from the way they’re constructed.
“There’s no point in recreating what already exists,” Jens said in reference to using what’s already available. “But also, how you get custom objects to work together isn’t always super intuitive—but if you can look at existing apps to see how those fields are built and connected, you can get more insight into how to build your own solutions.”
Pro Tip: You can find a library of free applications for the platform in the Relativity Community (start in the Files tab, and then navigate to the Relativity Applications library).
Sam Bock is a member of the marketing team at Relativity, and serves as editor of The Relativity Blog.