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Today is a great day for the entire Alfresco community because 4.2.a is out! This is the first new release of Community Edition since the 4.0 Community Edition and it includes features brought forward from Alfresco in the cloud as well as new features that will be showing up in the next Enterprise release. So here are my top five favorite features that are worth calling out…

(1) New & Improved Google Docs Integration

First up is a new and improved Google Docs Integration. This is really slick. It allows you to create a document (or a spreadsheet or a presentation) in Google Docs in a single click, then save it back to Alfresco in a single click. It honestly could not be any easier. The first time you do it you are prompted to give Alfresco access to your Google Docs account, but this interaction will look very familiar to any end-user who has granted access to one of their social accounts (like Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, for example).

(2) New Rich Media Gallery View

Rich Media View
Many people use Alfresco to manage creative assets like images and videos. So it makes sense you would want to see those assets in a more lightbox-y kind of way. Now you can. The rich media gallery is a new view option end-users can choose when looking at a list of documents. Instead of a vertical list of small thumbnails and file metadata, it shows the contents of the folder as a set of adjacent thumbnails with the file name overlayed. This approach gives the most important thing–the image thumbnail–maximum real estate. The view includes a slider that an end-user can use to dynamically adjust the size of the thumbnails shown in the list. The rich media gallery view still supports drag-and-drop, multiple file selection and the ability to quickly get to the detailed properties page when needed.  As a side note, this view was added using a new set of extensibility features that make it easy for other developers to add additional view options to the document library.

(3) New Dashlets for Searches, Discussions, Images & Workflows

We’ve added a few new dashlets that help you find and stay up-to-date on relevant content. The first is the saved search dashlet. A site manager can add this dashlet to the site dashboard and configure it with an Alfresco FTS query. When users open the site dashboard, the query runs and displays the results. For example, maybe you’d like to always display the latest “TPS Report” on the dashboard. You can do that with the Saved Search dashlet.  The next example, Site Search dashlet, is similar, but this new dashlet is used to let users run ad hoc searches and display the results. It avoids the need to leave the dashboard to run a query.  The third new dashlet addition is My Discussions. It helps you stay on top of discussion threads you are involved in across your sites. It is like a discussion-specific activity stream that lets you know when new topics and replies are created. It includes the ability to filter the activity based on date. For example, maybe you want to see all of the new discussion activity within the last 14 days.  And finally there are a couple of dashlets that have been improved in this release. The first is My Tasks. We’ve always had a My Tasks dashlet–it shows you tasks that are waiting for you to work on. But prior to this release, once the tasks were completed, you couldn’t go back and review them. Now the My Tasks dashlet can show both Active Tasks and Completed Tasks.  The Image Preview Dashlet, which is a dashlet that displays thumbnails of the images contained within a site, now has a nicer layout and includes the ability to specify which folders should be searched for images, rather than grabbing all of the images across the entire site.  All of these new and enhanced dashlets are aimed at making it easier to get relevant content in front of the people who need it most.

(4) New Document Actions: Download as Zip & Quick Share

The 4.2.a release adds new options for downloading and sharing content. The first is Download as Zip. This gives end-users a quick way to grab more than one piece of content at-a-time. You simply select the content you want, then click Selected Items, Download. The content items get compressed into a single zip and are then downloaded to your machine.  Quick Share is a new feature that comes to on-premise by way of our hosted cloud solution. It is really handy for sharing content with collaborators who may not otherwise have access to the site or folder. When you click “Share” on a piece of content, Alfresco generates a shortened link you can give to others via email, Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. When they click the link, they’ll see a preview of the content. You can share content with anyone with this single click without modifying the access control list for the site, folder, or document. Only those with Collaborator or higher can share a document using this feature and documents can be “unshared” at any time.

(5) Improvements Under the Hood

There are also several improvements end-users may not fully appreciate, but that the developer crowd will definitely applaud:
  • Support for JDK 1.7 and Tomcat 7. In fact, the release notes say these are actually requirements.
  • 4.2.a now ships with LibreOffice 3.5, which is used to transform office documents to PDF.
  • If you install using the binary installer, you’ll get PostgreSQL 9.0.4. But many people use manual installations configured to run against MySQL. In release 4.2.a, you’ll want to upgrade to MySQL 5.5.
  • Alfresco embeds the open source Activiti business process engine to handle advanced workflows. In 4.2.a we’ve upgraded to the latest Activiti release, which is 5.10.

Beyond that, there are a number of other developer-centric enhancements, bug fixes and performance improvements in this release. So take a look at the release notes and Kevin Roast’s blog post. I’ve also got screencasts of the features discussed here available on my blog, ecmarchitect.com.  Once you’ve downloaded Alfresco 4.2.a Community Edition and tried out the new features, we’d love to hear from you – write a blog post or record a quick screencast with your feedback and then link to it here in the comments. Who knows, maybe I’ll ship you a shirt or even a DevCon pass (no promises, though)!

About the author

Jeff Potts

Jeff Potts

Jeff Potts is the Chief Community Officer of Alfresco Software. Jeff has been working with Alfresco since 2005 and has 20 years of content management, document management, and collaboration experience. Jeff wrote the first developer-focused book on Alfresco, the Alfresco Developer Guide, and recently co-authored CMIS & Apache Chemistry in Action. Follow Jeff on his blog at http://ecmarchitect.com.

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  • Pingback: Screencasts of my favorite Alfresco 4.2 Community Edition features | ecmarchitect.com

  • ken yang

    Great summary !

    One question: is there any new updating for the front end supporting? e.g., does the 4.2.a still mainly supporting YUI 2.9? or will it support new YUI 3.0 and new jQuery ,e.g, 1.8?

    • http://twitter.com/jeffpotts01 Jeff Potts

      ken,

      Version 4.2.a is shipped with YUI 2.9 and three versions of JQuery: 1.5.2, 1.6.2, and 1.8.11.

      Jeff

  • http://NA Joseph John

    For we, seeing the users past task is value added. Previoulsy I was not able to, but now with 4.2.a I can

  • http://www.contentreich.de Sandra Martin

    Hallo Jeff,

    in our “New Rich Media Gallery” all portrait mode images are distorted (ratio).
    Are we missing something?

    Thanks
    Sandra

  • http://twitter.com/jeffpotts01 Jeff Potts

    That is strange! I haven’t seen that problem. You should post it in the Alfresco Share end-user forum: https://forums.alfresco.com/en/viewforum.php?f=47

    We’ll see if anyone else has the same problem and maybe some of the engineers that monitor the forums will also take a look.

    Please include screenshots if you can!

  • http://www.contentreich.de Sandra Martin

    Hi Jeff,

    in your video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=te6EVwQdzCc (at 0:26) you can see the distortion (multnomah_falls.jpg) .

    It’s caused by documentlist-gallery.css:78 .
    Removing min-width: 100%; fixes it. It may have side-effects with certain browsers.

    Sandra

    • http://twitter.com/jeffpotts01 Jeff Potts

      Sandra,

      Cool, thanks for pointing that out. I’m going to pass along your comment and your fix to the Engineering team.

      Jeff

    • http://ecmarchitect.com Jeff Potts

      Sandra,

      Just FYI, the issue around distortion has been created by Ray in Jira if you want to watch it: https://issues.alfresco.com/jira/browse/ALF-16832

      Jeff

  • http://www.hazelband.com Timothy

    Would you be so kind as to gimme the instructions of performing a manual install on windows? Thank you.

  • Trevor Townsend

    I’ve been running Alfresco and using it as my DMS since 3.3 (I’m self-employed, so open source + Alfresco simply makes sense).

    This version has just about everything I’m looking for – well done!
    The only addition I would like to see would be some kind of inline editing, like Google Docs, that is contained on my own servers instead of the cloud.

    Apart from that, this is a terrifically usable release of a great system.

  • Patrick Vanhoof

    Jeff,

    Do you know when these features will be availalble in the enterprise version? Will it be 4.1.2? They look very interesting and worth waiting for.

    Thanks,
    Patrick

    • http://ecmarchitect.com Jeff Potts

      Patrick,

      In general, new features flow from Community Edition to Enterprise Edition. So anything you see in Community Edition will eventually be in Enterprise Edition. Typically, if you see something in 4.x Community Edition that feature will show up in 4.x Enterprise Edition. So what you see in 4.2.x Community will be in 4.2 Enterprise. Hope that makes sense.

      Jeff

  • marmareh ashtari

    dear friend
    could you please help me how can i creat configure outbound email?
    when others users get permisson to see that file i recieve the e-mail from them but when i permisson to other user they can’t receive the e-mail.
    thnx very much
    hope 2 hearing from u soon

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