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Sep012009

Alfresco 3 ECM Implementation Book Review

Alfresco 3 Enterprise Content Management Book CoverAlfresco 3 Enterprise Content Management Implementation by Munwar Shariff is the second edition of the book dedicated to how administer Alfresco, it was recently published by Packt Publishing.

The first edition of this book is Alfresco Enterprise Content Management.

Author and co-authors

Munwar Shariff is the CTO of Cignex, he has worked as chief architect and manager of engineering teams in the field of system software, Internet and mobile applications.

Here some information about all the co-authors of this book:

Vinita Choudhary is a senior consultant at Cignex, she has worked in a variety of environments with cross-functional teams as business analyst.

Amita Bhandari is a senior consultant at Cignex, she has worked implementing Enterprise Web Application based on J2EE technologies.

Pallika Majmudar is a consultant at Cignex Technologies, she is very experienced in Java/J2EE domain.

Audience

This book (600 pages) is dedicated to system administrators would like to know more about Alfresco and how to configure it.

So if you are a developer you must know that this book covers only topics about Alfresco advanced configuration and only some topics are dedicated to how implement applications or system integrations.

For who doesn't know Alfresco, it is an Enterprise Open Source project dedicated to Content Management. Alfresco is a Java-based repository implementation, it is strongly based on Spring Framework and allows you to manage contents and documents customizing content types and rules.

Review and material

You can take a first look at the following titles of all the fourteen chapters provided in this book:

  • Chapter 1: Introduction to Alfresco
  • Chapter 2: Installing Alfresco
  • Chapter 3: Getting Started with Alfresco
  • Chapter 4: Implementing Membership and Security
  • Chapter 5: Implementing Document Management
  • Chapter 6: Implementing Business Rules
  • Chapter 7: Extending the Alfresco Content Model
  • Chapter 8: Implementing Workflow
  • Chapter 9: Integrating External Applications with Alfresco
  • Chapter 10: Advanced Collaboration Using Alfresco Share
  • Chapter 11: Customizing the User Interface
  • Chapter 12: Search
  • Chapter 13: Implementing Imaging and Forms Processing
  • Chapter 14: Administering and Maintaining the System

Chapter 1: Introduction to Alfresco

The first chapter is dedicated to show to first-time users Alfresco with all the main features, the repository structure and the software architecture.

So this is an high level overview about what you can do with Alfresco and how Alfresco can perform all these features. We found a complete set of all the open source projects included in Alfresco to implement many important features.

In this chapter you'll find a useful section dedicated to how you can use Alfresco in your business process for records management, web content management or collaboration management.

Chapter 2: Installing Alfresco

In this chapter you can find all the informations about how to install Alfresco out of the box step by step.

There is a complete guide to install MySQL, Image Magick (image transformation engine), CIFS (Windows), Microsoft Office Plugins and other optional services.

Chapter 3: Getting Started with Alfresco

In this section you'll find an overview about how to use all the main features, just an introduction of the Alfresco Web Client (JSF Client) to manage your contents and repository users.

Here you can find some configurations to customize Alfresco Web Client and the repository: database configuration, advanced search, languages for labels, email server, file systems.

I think that this chapter can mislead the readers, it seems as if the web client configurations were equally important to the configuration of the repository, it is very strange for me.

Only one page to explain the configuration file for virtual file systems, I think they could do better than this.

This is the first chapter on the configuration I think is very important to explain what you are setting up in a specific file, unfortunately I don't think that this chapter has achieved its objective as well.

Just to clarify, I would suggest to add some examples of other DBMS settings and more informations about repository settings for all the users would like to have this type of hints.

Chapter 4: Implementing Membership and Security

In this chapter you can find all the information needed to manage users, groups and user roles: membership.

There is a detail about default roles and how to create a custom role using all the possible permissions provided by Alfresco (implemented by Spring Security).

For the security section you'll find detailed and useful examples about how to configure LDAP with Active Directory, Daisy Chaining (for multiple authenticators), NTLM, SSO with Active Directory, SSO with CAS.

There is also an example based on Alfresco Web Services API to show how to create users from an external Java application using Web Service Client Java stub provided by Alfresco.

I am a bit confused, this book is not dedicated to developers and therefore I don't understand why there are two pages dedicated to a small example of system integration.

Chapter 5: Implementing Document Management

This is one of the core chapters of the book, here you can find many useful tips about how to create your spaces structure in Alfresco and how to manage rules, versioning and categories for your contents.

Then you'll find a user manual dedicated to content management for all the basic operations you need to manage contents from the Web Client (create/upload, remove, move, update).

A full description about file systems configuration is described here as well to allows you to manage contents using network drives, CIFS, FTP or WebDav.

I would like here a list of sample configurations for each of these file systems/connectors.

An other interesting section is about Microsoft Office Add-ins, so you can see how to install one of this plugin and how to use it.

The next important topic is how to create forums and how to manage discussions for a content or a space.

Chapter 6: Implementing Business Rules

Whenever you need to use Alfresco you need to create your own spaces structure, but many times it is not easy to understand what is the best solution for your goal.

In this chapter there is a good description of how to approach to this type of tasks giving more effort on rules and not to content semantics.

I think this is the correct way to explain how to create a new Alfresco spaces structure, it depends on many parameters for a specific business model.

Very useful the examples in JavaScript API and Java scheduled actions

This chapter is very comprehensive and I think that it could be very hard do better than what I have found in this book about rules in Alfresco.

Chapter 7: Extending the Alfresco Content Model

This is an other chapter that I think it could be useful only for developers and not to system administrators. 

Here is explained all the Spring steps to configure content model but I haven't found a good description about how build a new content model.

Authors write about the Alfresco's default configuration files of the content model and they suggest to take a look there.

I think that this is an important chapter but it seems to read a section dedicated only to developers without any tips dedicated to design your specific content model.

This chapter could be better if there had been strategic guides to define your own content model.

Chapter 8: Implementing Workflow

Here you can find a good description about how to use Alfresco Out-Of-The-Box Simple Workflows, as a power user.

If you need to implement a custom workflow there is a simple description dedicated to how to deploy in Alfresco your custom workflow created with JBoss JBPM Designer.

Chapter 9: Integrating External Applications with Alfresco

An other chapter dedicated to developers about connectors and some of the APIs of Alfresco.

The most contents are dedicated to how to implement WebScripts and other examples of integration (portals, Facebook, etc..).

I was really happy to find the first contribution in a book about CMIS implementation in Alfresco.

Just some advice about CMIS but I think that this is a great project and it could be a great way to define a real standard dedicated to interoperability of all the repositories of all the different vendors.

Chapter 10: Advanced Collaboration Using Alfresco Share

This is the chapter dedicated to Alfresco Share introduced in Alfresco 3, here you can find the first user manual dedicated to Share.

So you can find how to manage blogs, wiki, discussions, sites in Share.

This chapter is not dedicated to developers but only to administrators.

Chapter 11: Customizing the User Interface

This chapter describes how to customize Alfresco UI in the Alfresco Web Client (JSF Client) and Share dashlets.

I have appreciated this new section dedicated to dashlets because again, this is the first contribution of documentation about Share.

Chapter 12: Search

This chapter, compared to the previous edition, has now new topics about OpenSearch and Lucene settings and I think this is a good improvement.

Chapter 13: Implementing Imaging and Forms Processing

I think that this chapter is equal to the same chapter in the previous edition.

Here you can find topics about Forms processing, OCR and imaging described introducing a real scenario with some examples, very useful.

Chapter 14: Administering and Maintaining the System

The last chapter is dedicated to how to maintain repository, data backup and some tips dedicated to administrators.

I have appreciated the first documentation dedicated to how to create Multi-Tenancy in Alfresco.

 

In conclusion Alfresco 3 Enterprise Content Management Implementation is a good book and it is highly recommended for Alfresco system administrators!

If you would like to see all the details about chapters and paragraphes of this book, then you can visit the detailed table of contents.

You can download Chapter 5 - Implementing Document Management directly from Packt Publishing website for free:

Sample Chapter 5 - Implementing Document Management [1.65 MB] (PDF)

Thanks to Packt Publishing for provided me with a free copy of the book for writing this review.

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Reader Comments (2)

Hi There,

Alfresco is one of the most popular Java-based Content Management System.

Thanks,
William

February 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWebsite design chicago

Hi,

Hoping for a good reading book.This review says it all.

Thanks

May 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDenver Seo Firm

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