The Versatility of Alfresco Aspects

Recently I was having a conversation with Alan Weintraub, Principal Analyst at Forrester. We were discussing the importance of building the right taxonomy for managing content. Both of us have been in the content management business longer than we cared to remember, and both have worked on systems that needed to create hierarchical type taxonomies with metadata held at different levels. Spending many hours trying to decide the most appropriate place for a certain attribute.

Enter Alfresco Aspects. An aspect is a collection of attributes that can be overlaid on to any file, irrespective of type. The system may have a number of types defined – Contracts, Reports, Issue Logs and Case Files. If I create a contract and then want to identify it as a customer contract I just add the customer aspect. Aspects can be applied manually, with the user choosing to add an aspect, or automatically – applying an EXIF aspect to hold extra photograph information once a JPG is uploaded. Of course multiple aspects can be applied to a file.

Using aspects makes it much easier to deploy Alfresco; it simplifies the metadata model and makes content much easier to find for the end users. I just wish it had been invented 20 years ago!




Video: Adding an aspect
Video: Search an aspect

Tags: , ,

11 Responses to “The Versatility of Alfresco Aspects”

  1. Jan Says:

    I agree so much, but the feature is so far hidden that most users don’t even know about it. Alfresco should bring these features much more to the front – once they have decided what this front could be…

  2. Igor Blanco Says:

    What do you mean by hidden? I think aspects are as well known an documented as the rest of the content modelling elements.

    I do agree though that “using” or “integrating” those custom models (aspects, types or whatever) in Alfresco UI’s could be much more straightforward, but it seems to me that, although not yet there, Alfresco Share and its forms engine is heading in the right direction on this matter.

  3. John Bailo Says:

    I’m confused by the difference between a Custom Model, Aspects and Custom Aspects.

    If I add a custom model, that could then add an aspect (property?) to all documents in the repository.

  4. Paul Hampton Says:

    You can use custom models, custom aspects or a combination of both. Having a set of custom attributes held as an aspect allows you to overlay them on any object. This greatly simplifies the model.

  5. Francesco Valente Says:

    Hi Paul,
    can I ask you which version of alfresco used in these screencasts?
    I’m on alfresco 3.4b and I have not found a way to configure the advanced search for aspect… as in your second video. In the share-config-custom.xml I added an entry for the AdvancedSearch condition, but when I select that I get an error “A form could not be found for item: [type]my:customaspect”…

  6. Paul Hampton Says:

    Francesco,

    I was using Alfresco Enterprise 3.4.0 – But the configuration should be the same for both Community and Enterprise. I will write a post with instructions and my setup files.

    Paul

  7. Francesco Valente Says:

    Thanks Paul,
    It might be a good thing to share those configs.. ;-)

    Bye
    Franco

  8. Kim Says:

    I find the documentation supporting this software to be lacking all fronts. Aspects for sites and for folders include items such as Classifiable, Complianceable, Dublin Core etc but there is no explanation of how these are used and the impact thereof. Taggable does not even feature in the help file although it is in the software. Similarly, trying to find out how tags and categories and aspects work together in the realm of a taxonomy is not possible.

  9. Paul Hampton » Blog Archive » Sample Types and Aspect – Config Files Says:

    [...] in January I posted a blog about how powerful the Aspect feature was in Alfresco. It included two videos – one showing how [...]

  10. Ivan Leš Says:

    Thank you so much for config files Paul!

    I’ve been battling the same problem as Francesco (and many more) the whole day and had the same error coming up all the time… How to enable advanced search for aspects… well you can’t directly bind search form to an aspect or you will get “A form could not be found for item: [type]my:customaspect” no matter what you try, instead you can only bind them to a type. Now my main problem was I didn’t want custom types or subtypes but to simply use “cm:content” for each aspect search without overriding each other… The key is a custom id (thanks again Paul).

    Here is a short code listing from Paul’s share-config-custom.xml

    cm:content

    Notice the id=”customersearch” :) (thought it could only be “search” in order to work)

  11. Paul Hampton Says:

    You can now find the config files and instructions on this blog post (http://blogs.alfresco.com/wp/phampton/2011/05/16/sample-types-and-aspect-config-files/)

Leave a Reply


Alfresco Home | Legal | Privacy | Accessibility | Site Map | RSS  RSS

© 2012 Alfresco Software, Inc. All Rights Reserved.