During the EMC Documentum Clients Overview: The New Face of ECM, the presenters (and supporting EMC product managers) were pretty open and honest about what the various “My Documentum” interface tools being configurable but not a development platform. The “My Documentum” suite, for those not familiar, includes solutions for integration with Outlook, Applications (like Word, Excel), SharePoint and other uses outside of the web based solutions like Webtop, CenterStage and xCP. The product managers were very open about each solution not including “all the functions of Webtop”. We (TSG) would agree that feature creep for simple interfaces can result in bloated software, long development and release schedules and shouldn’t be the focus of simplified interfaces.
One item not included for each of the My Documentum components is a Software Development Kit. This pushes clients to use with configuration “out of the box” and, for us developers, does not give us the ability to “tweak” common customizations for improved indexing, search or specific business processes. For these simple interfaces, we (TSG) would agree that having an extensive SDK probably doesn’t make sense.
What about CenterStage?
What we wouldn’t agree on and are disappointed in is the continued lack of an SDK for CenterStage. As we learned earlier in the conference, CenterStage is the targeted replacement for Webtop sometime in a year or so. Given we first heard about CenterStage two years ago, we would expect an SDK by this point in time. While EMC is promising an SDK next year, it seems like this could have easily been something that should have been designed and created early in the development of CenterStage.
Why is an SDK important for CenterStage and not for My Documentum?
To be a long term replacement for Webtop, CenterStage needs the ability to develop applications that typically will require some customizations. For example, a common customization would be referential integrity within attributes. Given a certain user, have the selection of the plant attribute and department attribute driven by user profiles. This is a customization that, if not completed, could result in incompatible documents and misfiling. What if you wanted to extend CenterStage to drive content based on user profiles? Customizations for Search, Check-in, Check-out, Lifecycle in the best case may be quite small but necessary to insure user adoption through accurate leverage storage and retrieval of content and meeting business requirements.
Another driving factor for the need for an SDK would be for product developers and the development of additional extended product capabilities to form an ecosystem of developers rather just from EMC. Webtop benefits from the ability of third party providers to provide annotation, overlays, advanced workflow, scanning and other solutions that are extend Webtop’s capabilities. CenterStage, without an SDK, hasn’t developed that ecosystem even two years after its initial announcement.
Never keep a good developer down.
Last year, TSG saw CenterStage and, as part of our R&D efforts, looked to integrate the Active Wizard into CenterStage (a common add-on to Webtop). Without an SDK, to be honest, we struggled but came up with an integration that works pretty well. To view our results, click here. If you desire any detail about the integration, contact us here.