Update: Read Adlib’s thoughts on the upcoming EOL of ADTS here.
Documentum has announced the end of life for support for the Advanced Document Transformation Services as Dec 31, 2016. One of the little known changes between the Documentum 6.7 and 7.x versions was that Documentum changed the underlying transformation engine. Formerly based on Adlib (an industry leader in transformation), the new product, named Content Transformation Services (CTS), is based on Aspose. This post will discuss our client experience with CTS, highlight some of the differences between representative documents transformed with CTS and the old ADTS as well as present thoughts on how to remove the risk of both Documentum and CTS moving forward.
Documentum Document Transformations – A short history
One of the strengths of Documentum has always been the ability to store a rendition of the document. Typically, most clients have relied on PDF as a means to preserve the original document in an editable format with PDF being used for viewing and annotations. In building our own High Performance Interface (HPI) for Documentum, we heavily rely on PDF renditions as a way to quickly show the content of the document within a browser window without having to load a bloated file format (example Microsoft Word).
Early on in Documentum’s history, the transformation was produced by a product called “AutoRender”. As an initial basic approach, AutoRender ran on a separate Windows PC, would launch the file in Word (or Excel or PowerPoint) and initiate a “print to PDF” that would store the file back in Documentum as a rendition. Plagued with reliability issues, I distinctly remember John Newton fielding questions from the Documentum community at the first Momentum (in Miami) as we all complained about the stability of the PC’s that ran AutoRender.
As Documentum grew and matured, Documentum partnered with Adlib, an advanced rendering company, to power Advanced Document Transformation Services. With the announcement of 7.x, some readers might have noticed that a new engine was picked. In working with the new tool, our clients have noticed:
- ADTS 6.7 will not work with a 7.x repository
- The installation is not straightforward – we had to engage with EMC support to obtain a patch just to get it to install, and even then, it is not a simple install
- Certain files are renditioned differently (more detail below).
In our discussions, it seems apparent that Documentum changed the renditioning service to use Aspose as its renditioning engine; not to provide a better service but to save the money they would have had to pay without reducing the price of document transformation. As we have been saying about Documentum for quite some time and would continue to state with the OpenText purchase, the profit motive around Documentum products continues to drive many of the technical decisions. The decision to change renditioning engines seems to be another example.
File Rendition Differences
The below image shows an example of what a client has seen being transformed in the new 7.0 version of CTS vs what they previously had in 6.7 ADTS. See if you can guess which version was from Adlib vs what was produced by CTS 7.0 (hint, it is the one that isn’t cropping information, adding random lines or changing borders). From our experience so far, it seems like CTS takes many liberties with font sizing and spacing of tables that are prone to cutting off information and otherwise changing the actual content of the document in unexpected ways.
Derisking transformation services – Adlib Transformation Services for Documentum
From our discussions with Adlib, Documentum recognized some of the issues with CTS and had been in discussions to again offer Adlib as the engine behind CTS for Documentum 7.x customers. With the purchase of Documentum by OpenText, these discussions have been put on hold. For clients looking to remove the risk of Documentum, we would recommend considering adding Adlib as a separate product rather than CTS. Some advantages to Adlib over CTS include:
- Shared service—Deploy as a shared service across multiple enterprise applications, lines of business, departments or geographic locations to ensure rendering consistency across the enterprise.
- Massive scalability—Scale easily for added capacity to meet growing conversion and transformation job volumes with maximum uptime and zero job loss.
- Centralized management console—Monitor, report and troubleshoot via web-based management console to ensure enterprise-wide rendering demands are met.
- High availability—Maintain high reliability and availability with intelligent redundancy to ensure no single point of failure and maximize uptime.
- Performance oriented load balancing—Ensure high utilization of Adlib resources for optimal performance.
- Job management—Route jobs intelligently to appropriate resources based on resource availability, job priority, and proximity to content. Job monitoring ensures successful job completion.
- Compliance-ready—Ensure all corporate information is ICH compliant and delivered with consistent quality across the organization.
- Rules Creation & Processing—Gives organizations the ability to configure processing of documents based on metadata.
For some of our clients, we have even considered building out Adlib as a cloud renditioning services to remove the cost of the separate server.
With ADTS end of life coming up on December 31, 2016, clients upgrading to 7.x or looking for alternative approaches and taking some of the risk out of the new CTS should consider adding Adlib transformation services as a standalone product to their Documentum environments.