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Happy New Year and welcome to 2013, the year cloud goes BIG! In my role I’ve been overwhelmed with the positive response to our cloud service, but more importantly by the huge shift in attitude towards cloud since I joined Alfresco 18 months ago. Large brand name companies are making strategic moves to cloud, under pressure to adapt to more challenging market conditions and keep up with their users quickly changing needs. In 2013 cloud will finally hit the mainstream and as companies look at how to transition to this brave new cloud world, hybrid solutions like Alfresco, who is the only vendor meeting this need will provide the stepping stone required.

In this light, we plan to kick 2013 off with a running start! I’m pleased to announce a whole host of new features that will enable you get more out of your content in Alfresco in the cloud.

New Editing Capabilities

A key to getting your users adopting a solution like Alfresco is making it easy for them to access, share and edit their content on it. In order to help your users get more productive creating and editing their documents on Alfresco, we’ve launched two new ways to edit documents directly in Alfresco: Edit in Microsoft Office or Edit in Google Drive. These complement mobile editing, WebDAV and the upcoming desktop sync to enable your users to work the way they want on their documents productively in Alfresco.

New Document Library Menu Options

Google Drive Integration

If you want to make real-time edits on a document with your colleagues or quickly edit a document in your browser then this great new feature is for you.

A lot of our customers are moving to Google Apps and want to bring Google’s great editing capabilities onto the documents they store in Alfresco. Alfresco is great at securing, organizing and sharing documents and Google Drive is great for editing them.

With the new integration, all supported documents (Word, Spreadsheets, Presentations) will have a new option ‘Edit in Google Docs.’ When selected, Alfresco will send your document to Google and when you’re done, automatically save it back. Unlike other integrations we’ve seen, it won’t leave a copy of the document in Google Drive after you’ve saved it, ensuring the document is saved in one place, not two. In addition, you can also create new documents directly in Alfresco and write the initial draft from your web browser.

See the video below for a demo on how this great new feature works.

Native Microsoft Office Integration

Online editors like Google Drive are great, but if you started a document in Microsoft Office, as most do, you sometimes lose features and formatting when opening it in an online editor. For those users that want to quickly edit their documents without losing any functionality or fidelity, this feature is for you. Apart from Microsoft’s own cloud service, Office365, Alfresco is the only other cloud service that supports native Microsoft Office integration. That means if you have Microsoft Office installed on your computer already, you don’t need to install any additional software or plugins to use this feature as it uses the built-in capabilities of Office.

If you have Microsoft Office installed, a new ‘Edit in MS Office’ option will be available for all supported document formats like Word, Excel and PowerPoint. This will automatically open the document directly in Microsoft Office where you can edit and save it back into Alfresco. It’s so quick and simple you’ll be hooked on this great new feature in no time!

See the video below for a brief demo on this great new feature in action.

Granular Permissions

The number one concern for companies using cloud services is security. In 2013, we will be investing even more in this area to address those concerns and ensure customers have complete control over their content in the cloud. In order to help cloud users have more control over securing their files and content, we’ve introduced a new UI that allows you to secure folders and content at a more granular level than before.

Granular Permissions

Previously, if you wanted to have a private area in your site that only certain users could access, you could only do it at the Site Group level. As a result, if you were a consultancy and had a project site to share documents with your clients and wanted to hide internal work in progress, you’d probably have to have two sites: one for your team and one to share deliverables with your client. Now you can keep all project files in one site with both your team and client working together closely with specific folders hidden from the client until the documents are ready to share, keeping all your content in one place.

To use this feature, select ‘Edit Permissions’ on a folder or document and you will go to a new screen that allows you to specify individual users and their permissions on that folder or document, hiding it from any users not added to the list.

Rich Media

Alfresco isn’t just good at managing documents, it can manage all types of content, which includes video, high-res images and audio files. Unlike similar services, Alfresco understands the data embedded in those files as well (metadata), allowing you to search on that data and even visualize it. For example, try uploading a photo from your phone to Alfresco in the cloud, you’ll see a red pin next to the file and an option to show where that photo was taken on a map.

In order to make it even easier to view and manage your rich media, Alfresco in the cloud now has a new ‘Gallery View’ that can be selected in the top right of the Document Library. This will display all your rich media and documents in a rich thumbnail view, which can be dynamically re-sized using the slider at the top.

Rich Media Gallery View

Watch this space for even more rich media support and views, making Alfresco a great solution for creative marketing departments and agencies working on evolving campaigns full of rich content.

What’s Next

Look out for new languages, more security and administration functionality giving you peace of mind when using Alfresco, desktop sync and customization options so you can start empowering Alfresco to streamline your business processes!

About the author

David Gildeh

David Gildeh

Director of Cloud Services at Alfresco. An ECM junkie with his head in the clouds...

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