Last month, Alfresco updated the 2012 Product Roadmap on the Alfresco Wiki, providing a rough outline of things to come for Alfresco. Aside from the core repository and Share interface, cloud and mobile are obviously a huge focus for this year. The following are some thoughts on some of the more interesting enhancements planned for 2012. Of course, some of the items may be delayed or shift as the year progress.
- The ability to synch between a private enterprise repository and a cloud repository will really be the key differentiator between Alfresco and other ECM competitors. In addition to synchronizing content, it looks like Alfresco will also allow workflows to transition between on-premise and the cloud as well, something we’ve explored with our OpenApprove concepts.
- From a partner perspective and developers using Alfresco, the development tools and APIs provided by Alfresco for the cloud will drive the vertical solutions required to make the repository useful for customers. It will be interesting to see how robust the initial API will be. Although probably not available in the initial release, the ability to create Content Models and Web Scripts are key platform features I would hope would eventually be provided and be made accessible for Alfresco Cloud developers.
- Alfresco has made a decision to focus on developing mobile OS specific applications for both iOS and Android with an accompanying SDK. The Mobile SDK will also be able to be leveraged in the Cloud or for Private repositories. In working with a number of recent clients developing mobile solutions, some have chosen to develop HTML5 based applications leveraging frameworks such as JQuery Mobile. Regardless, it seems Alfresco will be able to provide a number of ways to distribute content to mobile devices, regardless of your mobile device or development platform.
- Fine Grained Permissions – The repository has always allowed fine grained permissions on documents, but Share has only exposed this as role-based permissions within a Share Site. Out of the box, looks like we will finally be able to set permission not only on role, but on groups and users as well. Finally!
- Metadata-Driven Faceted Search. From a search perspective, this has been one of the benefits of leveraging Solr – the ability for a faceted search interface. The NY Philharmonic Digital Archives and UCP myInfinitec Mobile App Search interface are driven by faceted search based on metadata within Alfresco. Nice to see this finally being exposed within Alfresco Share.
- Dynamic Constraints – Assuming Dynamic Constraints will provide the ability for one attribute to drive the constraints of another attribute when tagging content. We’ve implemented this a number of times as a customization for clients. Additionally, the need to query for constraints from external sources (i.e. databases) has also been a repeated need at multiple clients. Although there are ways to do this today, would like to see this be a more standardized approach within the core repository.
- Content Model Management GUI – Editing XMLs were fine in the early days of the platform, will be good to see more administration tools to make the platform more accessible to non-technical administrators.
Overall, Alfresco has been busy focusing on hitting the big buzz words of the day – Mobile and Cloud. For implementers, would still like to see more work in making Share even more configurable vs. customizations which can make upgrades more difficult. Regardless, looks to be a busy year for Alfresco engineers.