In the last post of our 2018 making Documentum better series, we compared searching and viewing documents between Webtop and OpenContent Management Suite. For this post, we’re going to compare the the contributor functionality available in Webtop and compare that to OpenContent Management Suite. Our evaluation is based on what is configurable using the out-of-the-box products without any coding or customization. This post focuses on some of the highlights of document creation, checkout, and checkin. Our next post in the series will focus on working with folders and documents beyond import, and check in/out.
Content Transfer Methods
One of the major differences between Webtop and OpenContent Management Suite for contributors is the method for transferring content to and from the repository for checkin, checkout, and import operations.
Plugins can pose problems due to the requirement that software to be installed and maintained on the client PC. These downloads can be difficult to roll out and update on an enterprise level due to security restrictions. After all, plugins inherently provide web applications access to the file system on the client PC, which is often a large security concern.
Plugins can also be problematic when considering the compatibility between versions, operating systems, and browsers. Often times, a plugin might break due to an upgrade. In corporations where all PCs have the same image and installs and updates are centrally managed, it’s less of an issue because all PCs have the same software installed. However, more often than not, a common PC image for an entire company is never a reality because some users are granted admin rights to their PCs. Many companies also make their ECM web interfaces available over an extranet, opening up the user base to a variety of browsers, operating systems, Java, and Flash versions.
Webtop utilizes Unified Content Facilities (UCF) to perform content transfer. Pre Webtop 6.8.2, UCF is a Java applet developed by EMC and is used by every content transfer operation in Webtop. These operations include checkin, checkout, cancel checkout, edit, import, and export. UCF allows Webtop to behave more like a desktop application. In version 6.8.2, the Java applet is no longer used, but each client machine still requires a browser extension and a native exe/cab installation that requires a client Java Virtual Machine (JVM) version 1.7+. While this removes the security problem of installing an Applet on the client machine, but Java is still utilized and the issue of maintaining client installs for content transfer is still present. Additionally, the native client installation requires administrator privileges to install, which will pose a problem for many Webtop customers. For more information, see the “Installing browser extension and native client application” section in the Webtop 6.8.2 Deployment Guide.
Webtop contributor notes:
- Users do not have to specify a folder location or browse to files when editing and checking out content
- When viewing documents, content is downloaded and launched in the native application without having to save a local copy first
- Webtop relies entirely on UCF to allow users to view files. No web preview of documents is provided, even for documents that are PDF or have PDF renditions.
- While the Java Applet is no longer in 6.8.2, clients still require a JRE, a browser extension, as well as a native client install.
- Most users have grown accustomed to working with web based applications. Some of the desktop-like functionality provided by UCF may go unused or even confuse users (“I just checked out a document, but where did it go on my hard drive?”)
OpenContent Management Suite also provides smart tools for importing documents into a folder. Some examples:
- Metadata Inheritance – in case management scenarios, documents often share metadata with the case folder. For example, an underwriting document typically contains a policy_number attribute that’s also populated on the policy case folder. With OpenContent, these attributes can be pre-populated and optionally locked down when importing a document. So in this case, the user would not not need to re-key the policy_number attribute, or any other common metadata fields.
- Common Properties and Bulk Import – while importing multiple documents at once, OpenContent allows the user to set some properties once that apply across all documents. This alleviates the need for the user to set the same property value across each document one by one.
- Heads Up Indexing – when adding a document to the repository, OpenContent can display a preview of the document in the browser to aid in setting document properties. The user can also select text in the document to populate attributes. This is often used, for example, in cases like importing an Invoice and setting an invoice_number attribute. Rather than typing the value in, the user can simply highlight the value on the invoice, which will populate the metadata field automatically.
- Smart Processing of Emails – when OpenContent detects that the user is uploading an MSG file, it smartly pulls off any attachments and adds them to the list of documents queued for upload. After the import, the email and attachments are related using a parent/child relationship so the user can easily see attachments when looking at the email.
- Scanning with OpenCapture – OpenContent Management Suite integrates seamlessly with OpenCapture to allow users to scan documents directly into the repository from a desktop scanner.
Additional OpenContent contributor notes:
- OpenContent does not require any plugins or browser extensions for content transfer
- For document editing, a complete in-browser experience is available for clients that utilize Office Online or Google Apps
- OpenContent provides a user experience that is aligned with most other web applications
- Multiple files can be imported in a single operation
- Documents can be imported form the file system via drag and drop, scanned via OpenCapture, or pulled from Box or GMail
Many Documentum clients that are still on Webtop face the question – is it better to upgrade the old WDK-based Webtop application (often heavily customized) to Webtop 6.8.2 or move to something else? The removal of the Applet in 6.8.2 is nice, but the new requirements are only marginally better. We would say that since Documentum is no longer investing in Webtop it does not make sense to upgrade and clients should look to switch to a modern interface. For many of today’s business application users that are accustomed to working in streamlined web applications, options like the OpenContent Management Suite provide a better long-term direction that staying on Webtop.