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Content Management is in the air

Posted by doj on June 4, 2007 at 9:37 AM PDT

What a difference a year makes. I've been through two role changes in the past 12 months and now find myself returning back to a 'past life' looking at Content Management. Let's see how content management has gone 'Alfresco'.

First let's start by figuring out how I got here. In working with a new organization, I've been enjoying the typical 'immersion period' of getting to grips with the systems, processes and procedures of a new role. It takes time to find ones way around, and that is part of the fun: a chance to look into every aspect with complete innocence!

Now I'm into the 'contributing' era of the role, I'm seeing a few gaps starting to emerge; no, let's call them opportunities (like every marketing leader would tell you!) Over the years I have worn many hats throughout the web arena. I've been an analyst, developer, architect, security consultant and many more. One area that held my attention for a long time was content management.

It is content management that once again brings me to this point. The new organization currently has a veritable palette of options for managing content. Like many organizations, the easiest access option is the good old shared folder.

The organization is aware that we need something a little more, shall we say, evolved in order to make implementing our processes a smoother and less knowledge-intense operation. And so I am investigating some content management systems!

I have a pedigree in large-scale Content Management Systems, like Documentum, Vignette and Livelink as well as building some community-like systems around the open source Drupal. Conceptually speaking, I've always preferred the commercial packages as they seem to gel really well with the Java/object model. There's a low impedance mismatch there. So, along with the usual suspects, I decided to refresh the view and see what else might be out there from the open-source community that encompasses what I love about the commercial CMS offerings.

Enter Alfresco. Founded in 2005 by Documentum co-founder John Newton and BusinessObjects' John Powell, Alfresco is an open source Enterprise Content Management system built around key Java technologies such as: JSF, Spring, Hibernate and Lucene.

I've just spend about 48 hours with Alfresco, and it really lives up to it's name. It's like a breath of fresh air in the CMS space. Not only does it come out-of-the-box with common features, the platform itself is very extensible. Being based upon Java technologies, I'm right at home to start extending and implementing solutions based on Alfresco.

Now, why am I gushing you may ask? No, I'm not an employee of Alfresco... I'm not even a contributor (yet), but I appreciate well designed architecture when I see it. I also look at Alfresco as a serious challenger to the established commercial CMS offerings. Sure, I need to play some more, but what I see so far, I like a lot.

If you're looking for some way to manage content in your projects, including workflow, JSR-170 support and great integration with Java.... take a look at Alfresco.

Oh, and the built in CIFS support gives the familiar old shared folder. Who can argue with tradition!

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