Categories: "Technorati"

OSCMS Summit 2007 Alfresco Quick to Learn

Munwar Shariff, the CTO of CIGNEX is presenting on "Learn, Customize and Use Alfresco ECM in 60 minutes". Munwar is the author of Alfresco Enterprise Content Management Implementation.

Munwar presented his agenda in terms of use cases, such things as knowledge mangement and collaboration.

  1. Membership & Security
  2. Document Management
  3. “Spaces” within Alfresco are smart folder with attributes such as rules & RSS feeds.
  4. Business Rules
  5. One interesting use case is to mse the built-in transformations to convert old, unsupported MS file formats to ODF
  6. The Content Model can be extended with XML
  7. Search on standard and custom metadata and save search critera ag a report
  8. Simple & Advanced Workflow w/ Eclipse plug-in GraphicalTool and which can be chained - process diagram implements process flow
  9. Collaboration & Syndication
  10. Maintenance
  11. Implementing Imaging [scan | OCR] & Forms Processing: Kofax ascent Capture Script to simple, networked scanner.

OSCMS Summit 2007 Alfresco Desktop Integration

The third session that I'm attending is "Taming the Beast: CMS integration on the desktop with CIFS, Office, Dreamweaver and anything else" using Alfresco, a true Enterprise Content Management System by Dr. Paul Holmes-Higgen, VP of Engineering, in from the UK, Luis Sala, Director of Solutions, and Roy Wetherall, one of Alfresco's engineers.

Alfresco was started two years ago as a professional open source company, focused on the ECM market, using Java, under the GPL, providing support and OEM services. They quite a bit different from the CMS companies here, in that they are much more centered in teh large enterprises, for internal business processes, as much as external web communications. The founders are John Newton, founder Documentum now owned by EMC2, and John Powell, formerly of Business Objects.

Alfresco does document management [content models, records management, digital asset management and imaging - think FileNet], content services [especially interesting is metadata extraction, workflow [JBPM] and rule-based processing], web content management on an enterprise scale - millions of documents. It provides web services APIs to hook into your SOA ESB. All of Alfresco is pluggable, so other workflow, rule-engines, etc can be integrated.

CIFS - common internet file system - provides a virtual file system. Think SAMBA. Anything that you can do on a MS Windows server, you can do through CIFS, such as virus scanning and briefcase sync. Paul is providing a CIFS demo, using the Alfresco web client.

  1. Create a business rule
  2. Create Rule Wizard
  3. Aspect Oriented Programming
  4. Rule can include version control

Very simple, showing how to take an incoming image file, and create a PNG file-format thumbnail, with version control. Of course, behind the scene, this is using ImageMagik. This took about 10 seconds to write, with Paul explaining as he went. Of course, as with all live demos, something went wrong :) Paul had created the rule in the wrong folder, but rules can be edited, and moved ot live in the correct folder.

Paul gave some other demos, showing how one can change document properties, and do workflow. And even this is uses CIFS, Alfresco works in a mixed environment of MacOSX and Linux. They are also working on NFS support. is running headless behind the scenes for this. They're working on video using FFMPEG. Flash tools exist, etc. etc. While the initial tools were focused more on MS formats, is being achieved, and easily done. For example, committing a file to Alfresco, can invoke versioning and automagically create both PDF & ODF versions.

Web content management works around virtualization and sandboxes. The sandboxes provide isolated work areas as a transparent layer onto underlying content with controlled workflow, previews and staging. One can even use CIFS against any sandbox. And Alfresco does integrate with PHP apps such as MediaWiki, b2evolution, Joomla, and others that we use.

The floor went to Luis, to provide even more demos to help us understand the concept of sandboxes and workflow for editing and approval, and to further show integration with things like Dreamweaver. Alfresco targets both the non-technical business user, and the web designer.

One interesting point was that Paul's demo was from his Windows laptop, while Luis' was from his Mac - each running an Alfresco instance, natively.

Roy should some PHP application integration. In these cases, the PHP web app, such as MediaWiki, is storing its content in Alfresco, not in its own database. Roy is experimenting with a PHP interpreter, 100% written in Java, making for some interesting extensions in such things as templating and standardization. Roy demo'd a query executor running remotely over web services with identical results whether through a PHP interpreter or Tomcat. This shows how extensions to a PHP app such as MediaWiki, can work other within the Alfresco JVM, or in a stand-alone MediaWiki installation, without modification. Think about that... it really is very exciting.

Overall, Alfresco is very impressive. It is a whole different level than CMS projects, such as Joomla. Bringing this type of enterprise power to small businesses, or extending vendor management from large enterprises into their SMB providers could be a powerful part of our TeleInterActive Network services. The versioning system of the PHP app works with the Alfresco versioning, unlike with, say, a MS Word document, where the Alfresco version is separate from the internal file metadata. Ah, the power of open source, open standards and open APIs.

OSCMS Summit 2007 Joomla

Hagen Graf, author of several books and video tutorials on Mambo, Drupal, Joomla and CMS in general, is giving a general presentation on Joomla. There are several members of the core development team in the room, which is great. The current stable version, since 2006 December 25, is 1.0.12, with the 1.5 branch in beta.

The backend in Joomla 1.5 is heavily AJAXian, which should make it much easier to use. It also natively supports OpenID - another keen interest of ours. Development is moving along, and this summer, or certainly by Joomla's September birthday, should see a stable release. Joomla's birth date of September 2005, marks when Joomla was forked from Mambo, which has since been languishing under its corporate sponsorship. At the request of the audience, Hagen gave a demonstration of the Joomla 1.5 backend, from the source tree of three days ago. One can see the Mambo roots, if you're familiar with both CMS packages, but there is some ease of use evolution that is obvious. The templates can be made such that the CSS can be changed from within the backend.

There was also a discussion of some of the large Joomla run sites. One can find them at JoomlaPlace, and aee one at UN Western Europe HQ.

The Joomla community is very much made up of end users, and it's ease of use reflects this.

There was also a discussion of templating in various CMS systems. Joomla is designed, especially in 1.5, for accessibility [i.e. 508 compliance]. Thus, while one might think, that one can adapt a template for any CMS, one can't always achieve the same result in any CMS.

There was some discussion of the impression of Joomla vs. Drupal. Joomla, especially in Europe, is generally seen as more of a serious business tool that is very easy to use. To understand Drupal, you must live in Drupal 27x7.

Joomla has a plug-in architecture which, coupled with the high level of community support, allows for almost anything that can be accomplished on the web, can be accomplished with Joomla. This can lead to security issues, but Joomla has brought a secure architecture and best practices for its extension developers that help to mitigate this.

Hagen gave a very good talk, and with the attending members of the core team there and the general audience participation, we got a very good feel for Joomla.

OSCMS Summit 2007 Opening Session

Today and tomorrow, I'm at the Open Source Comment Management Summit 2007 - sponsored by Yahoo! and being held at the Yahoo! campus. Yahoo! is being a great host.

The first session included a welcome by Boris and Bradley, but the main talk was on web Performance and Security by the creator of PHP, Rasmus Lerdorf. It was truly eye-opening on the ease with which any web browser can be hacked. The best advice from Rasmus was to use one browser, such as Safari, for secure or sensitive sites [banking and the like] and another, such as Firefox, for general web browser. Rasmus' talk was one of the best I've attended at a conference such as this.

We're here to learn more about Joomla and Alfresco, and CMS/ECM in general.

Microsoft Self-Serving Security

Even though we're converting to all Apple all the time, we do have some Dell WindowsXP computers that we're still using. On one of these, the hard drive recently died. When I saw that I could get a Maxtor 200GB hard drive for $34.95 after rebate, I decided to replace the old hard drive with the new, and start over with it.

I feel like I'm in that Apple vs. Microsoft advertisement, where the security guy is standing behind the PC guy constantly asking for verification and permission.

The drive install wasn't bad at all. Unhook all the peripherals, pop open the tool-less case, unplug the IDE and power cables, squeeze the plastic rails, pull out the dead drive, unscrew four screws to detach the rails and attach them to the new drive, slide the new drive in, reattach the cables, and close up the patient. The patient, er, computer, recognized the drive with all 200GB right from the BIOS. Success.

I installed WindowsXPsp1 from the original CD, and that also went well, even the anti-piracy activation required by Microsoft - no hassles. Then I started the updates:

  1. Four updates to install more anti-piracy, like Windows Genuine True Checking to Make Really, Really Sure that you Didn't Steal This Copy Advantage
  2. Sixty-two, yep, 62 more updates to get to the point where I can do the big one...
  3. Service Pack 2
  4. Which then did another 27 updates, the last of which was IE7
  5. And IE7 did another two, and after all the restarts required, it was done, and ready for anti-virus software
  6. Our TrendMicro PCillin installed, activated via registration, updated, and after the required reboots, did a full scan - and only found one tracking cookie - I guess the router's firewall is working
  7. Maxtor insists in the manual for the hard drive that after installing the OS updates, you must install MaxBlast to assure that the OS will properly recognize data stored above a 137GB limit, even if BIOS and MyComputer recognize the full drive capacity - I'm not sure what the patch that it installs really did, but it's done too
  8. Now, time to install Microsoft Office... Why? Because we have the license, so why not?

This is where I felt like I was in the commercial. At the end of the Office install, in the last dialog box is a link to get updates. I clicked it. And the cycle began.

  • A pop-up: Did you notice the Information Bar? Hunh, what bar, I guess, click OK
  • The ActiveX verifyer checking to make sure I'm not a pirate fails to install
  • After a couple more cycles of this, I finally see the information bar that's appearing in the browser, buried among everything else, in the same blue as everything else, and click to allow the ActiveX control to install - but it fails again
  • After three more failures, each bringing me to a web page with different advice on how to achieve success, adding the website and clearing https requirements for trusted sites, allows me to install Microsoft's distrust of me as a customer - after of course, twice verifying that it's OK for the microsoft URL I'm on to go to the trusted site that doesn't use any security [how is that deserving of trust?]
  • After the ActiveX install, the updates still wouldn't happen, and again, after each failure, I was brought to a web page with different advice
  • Finally, the advice is that Office hasn't been activated, and to activate the product, I must launch one of its applications - WTF? Why is there a link to click on to go to this cyclic mess if you can't actually do the updates before starting the product?
  • I close IE, start Word, go through the dialogs and verifications to activate Office, and finally, after more ActiveX controls, I can do the two sets of service packs and updates to get to where this machine was before the hard drive failed.

Next will be to install any other programs used on that machine - first and foremost being Firefox and Acrobat. Then, I get to see if the last backups worked, and I can restore the content to the machine. Oh wait, no I can't. I still need to go back to Windows update website and click "Custom" to check for non-priority updates I may need or want, and I should check Dell for drivers and the like. Hmm, and I better check the DirectX version, and, and... /sigh

Maybe I should have just bought that Mac Mini [to keep using the relatively new monitor and other peripherals as opposed to an iMac]. I've gotten really accustomed to downloading and mounting the disk image [dmg], typing in the superuser password, dragging the application icon to the application directory icon, and watching the progress bar go quite quickly through its install, ejecting the dmg, backing it up, and done.

I think I deserve lunch, maybe even a nap.

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The TeleInterActive Lifestyle is about the business processes, life choices, management challenges and technical issues facing organizations and individuals as individuals and organizations adopt the Internet of Things, Mixed Reality, wireless networks of all levels, mobile devices, long-distance collaboration, social networks, digital transformation, and adjust to growing urbanization.

Sensor Analytics Ecosystems for the Internet of Things (SAEIoT) brings value from emerging technologies through data management and analytics, advances in data science, as the IoT matures through the 5Cs: Connection, Communication, Contextualization, Collaboration and Cognition. The socialization of machines will allow for Privacy, Transparency, Security and Convenience to be flexibly provided with two-way accountability to build Trust among Humans and Machines.

AsDataArchon, we have evolved our consulting data scientist work from learning how to incorporate sensor analytics into data warehouses, business intelligence and analytics to focusing on IoT data management and forming sensor analytics ecosystems.

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Our current thinking on sensor analytics ecosystems (SAE) bringing together critical solution spaces best addressed by Internet of Things (IoT) and advances in Data Management and Analytics (DMA) is here.

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