Document creation is a function of every document management system. You have to have a way of getting content into that content management system – otherwise your system isn’t managing much of anything!
Products and Interfaces
Documentum has numerous products that provide creation and import functionality. Webtop is the most common. But other options include InputAccel, DCM, xCP, MyDocumentum. I’ve seen plenty of others including many custom or home-grown solutions. The goal of all of these solutions is simplification of the creation process.
Each of these interfaces is similar in that it provides the following basic features:
- Setting of properties
- Attaching of content
- Ability to perform multi-doc import
- Applying of Business rules (lifecycle, initiate workflow, etc.)
Alfresco, like Documentum, has numerous ways of ingesting content:
- Share / DM – Full featured web application comparable to Webtop
- Connectors to Microsoft Office and Outlook –Comparable to Documentum Connectors, but we have had much better success with these products
- CIFS, FTP WebDAV – Additional ways for end users to import/create/access content stored in Alfresco.
Each of these interfaces, like the Documentum ones, provides the ability to perform common document management actions such as save, version, share, search and audit.
A significant difference between the Documentum and Alfresco interfaces is in the licensing structure. All of the Alfresco interfaces discussed above are included when enterprise support is purchased (which is CPU based), rather than being sold as separate products with named-user licensing.
Much of the import functionality (object model, properties, security, lifecycle, workflows) for a specific business implementation is configured via Application Builder or Composer. However, I still regularly see clients adding customizations to their create/import interface. Below are a few typical customizations that I regularly see. These customizations are typically implemented via WDK customizations, BOF, or some other method.
- If folder inheritance isn’t used, setting security (i.e. ACL)
- Auto placement into a folder
- Auto linking to related docs (i.e. a Change Request)
- Auto setting of properties based on user profile (i.e. division, department, etc.)
Alfresco also provides for the ability to configure custom object models, properties, security, and workflow. jBPM is used for workflow. For the other items they use a very different configuration model – Actions, and Rules. This Action and Rule framework is comparable to the Documentum Business Object Framework (BOF), but much more configurable. In Alfresco, Actions and Rules are regularly used to dynamically apply additional attributes, security, document statuses (i.e. lifecycle handling), and much more. More significantly Actions and Rules are used to implement numerous client-specific business requirements such as email notifications and placing content in a specific folder.
The power of Actions and Rules is significant and is not limited to content creation. They can be applied to eliminate many of the customizations that are typically created. They make it extremely simple to turn the generic Alfresco interface into a specific business application such as Accounts Payable, Contract Management, Quality Documentation, etc.