We had an incredible Day 1 at Alfresco DevCon London that ended with a reception at Vinopolis. On Day 2 the attendees were up early and ready for the sessions and sponsors hit the ground running with demos of creative solutions in the exhibit hall.
In thinking back about DevCon in both San Diego and London, it was clear that a lot of the value attendees derived was from interactions with Alfresco Engineers, partners, and each other. A lot of spontaneous discussions between members of the community, clients, partners and Alfresco engineers developed during breakfast and continued throughout the day. That kind of interaction is precisely what DevCon is for, and, just like in San Diego, London was the place to be to discuss technical issues around the platform with key stakeholders. Key topics for Day 2 included CMIS, Mobile, Best Practices, and Integrations.
Break Room with Partners and Attendees
One thing that was hard to miss was the prevalence of the Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS) standard. For example, in Mike Hatfield’s and Marc Dubresson’s talk on “Alfresco iOS Mobile Details and Design“, Mike Hatfield detailed which features used CMIS and which used RESTful API. For instance, Search and Upload use CMIS while Activities Feed, Like a Document and Comment use the RESTful API. The Alfresco mobile app was developed in partnership with Zia Consulting and is available in the App Store for iPhone and iPad. During the presentation
Break Room with Partners and Attendees
Marc Dubresson talked about the Alfresco Mobile Roadmap, which included Mobile being an important piece in the Alfresco Cloud that will be launched this year. He also mentioned a new feature that would give the app the ability to access Multiple Repositories and integrate with some other productivity apps.
There was a lot of interest from the audience and some questions regarding the plans for having Android applications. That was expected, since the audience was polled about their mobile devices and the majority of attendees from Europe owned an Android Phone. Alfresco is ready to build an Android Application, but there is definitely feedback from the community that needs to be factored in before that happens.
The new version of Alfresco Mobile (1.1) was recently released with some improvements and new features like:
- Content activity feed with direct link to updated documents
- Uploading of documents
- Capture and upload of video and audio recordings
- Display of sites by favorites, member sites or all sites
- Search for specific sites
Marc Dubresson announced that all the presentations from Alfresco DevCon were available in the sample repository that comes configured by default with the app. They have also since been uploaded to SlideShare.
Another session where CMIS was prevalent was “WCM Solutions using Drupal and Alfresco” presented by Richard McKnight and Ian Norton. They used a conversational style to discuss how to use Drupal to build your WCM with Alfresco in the back end. In many cases, CMIS is the API that lets the Drupal front-end share content with the Alfresco back-end.
Robin Bramley, an experienced engineer who wrote numerous articles about Grails and has been developing applications for Alfresco since version 0.6, hit CMIS pretty heavy in his presentation, “Using Enterprise Content in Grails“. He showed how to leverage CMIS to build Document Management and Web Content Management applications with Grails and Alfresco.
While CMIS was baked in to many talks, some focused on CMIS exclusively. On day two there were two sessions dedicated to the subject: “CMIS in the Real World” presented by Gab Columbro and “CMIS What’s Coming Next“, presented by Jeff Potts. Gab Columbro showed some examples of how CMIS can be used to build applications to access the repository or to establish a communication between repositories, which can help when you are migrating legacy content. He also talked about how important OpenCMIS is to Alfresco and how it is being used in the iOS apps and other integrations. Jeff covered what’s coming in the CMIS 1.1 specification and what’s changed in Alfresco 4 regarding CMIS.
Best Practices talks are always popular with DevCon attendees and Day Two didn’t disappoint.
Gab Columbro presented a session about “Alfresco Tuning”, which drew a lot of attention. His most talked-about slide was, “Tips you MUST know to scale Alfresco”. In that slide he listed the following actions:
Disable quotas when you don’t need them
When you have docs bigger than 1M fine tune #index segments (here is an Alfresco wiki to help with that)
Work with your DBA to tune the Database allowing enough incoming connections
Use Multi-Operation batches for your transactions
For bulk injections you can disable the transaction indexing
Tune permission checking behavior
Other noteworthy best practices talks included Gavin Cornwell on how to configure, customize and extend Forms in Share, Martin Bergljung on how to customize the Upload File Dialog, Ashley Ward talking about how to tackle a Complex User Interface, and Richard McKnight and Jared Ottley on Repository Customization Best Practices.
Integrations are also a popular topic. Chris Hudson spoke about “Integrating Alfresco with Publishing Tools“, which covered some publishing challenges and how they used Alfresco to build a Publishing Platform to help solve those problems. He also demonstrated an integration with Adobe InDesign.
Oksana Kurysheva and Alexey Ermakov shared how they solved a problem converting existing paper forms in a small government site in Russia, and also how they implemented workflows to act on the submitted forms. One of the main problems they faced was the need for visual form authoring tools, so the government employees could create and edit the forms definitions themselves. As a solution, they integrated Alfresco with Orbeon Forms, an Open Source forms application based in Xforms and Ajax.
The last session of the day was the Conference Wrap-Up and Panel Discussion with Alfresco Technical Leadership. Jeff Potts started by asking the community to make some pledges. Right away the Twitter stream got some members of the community pledging to answer questions in the forums, contribute code, and even included a pledge to support two students writing a Bachelor or Master Thesis around Alfresco in 2012.
During the Panel Discussion, the attendees and Twitter followers came up with some really interesting questions. The questions ran the gamut. Some were about when features would be added. Others were about when things might go away, like this one, “When is Alfresco Explorer going to die?”, to which John Newton and Mark Farman replied that this is not happening anytime soon because of the number of implementations still using Alfresco Explorer. For the question about “When partners will get their own line of support channel”, the answer was to get your Engineers and Developers certified and that will give you a shortcut through support.
Some existential questions, like “What’s the biggest mistake or regret since Alfresco creation in 2006″, got many of the panel participants talking about how they wish they had done some things sooner. Answering the question, “What is the thing you are really proud of?”, Alfresco CTO, John Newton, replied that he is really proud of the great community that supports Alfresco. Paul Hampton mentioned the Engineering team and all the talent they have at Alfresco.
It was great seeing everyone in London. See you next year!