Maven Alfresco SDK 1.0 is finally out and ready for you to enjoy!

It’s been a long journey, but we made it 😉

It started almost 5 years ago, and through the years, little by little, we made giant steps towards an open development platform.

If you have followed this blog earlier, you probably have shared some of the pain for an unnecessary difficult integration process of Alfresco artifacts, therefore today we should all re-joy as development on Alfresco got just so much better 😉

Thanks to the great work of the whole Maven Alfresco Community and the strong momentum and Support from Alfresco Engineering and Release Management, it’s with extreme pleasure and pride that I announce you that a fully fledged Maven Alfresco SDK™ 1,0 is now available for your enjoyment and to drastically improve your development productivity on Alfresco projects.

While I recommend to you have a look at the full docs and to the release notes to understand the full extent of features of this brand new piece of software, let me just give you here an overview of the  most exciting features:

  • Zero configuration approach: create an AMP or All-in-One archetype and with one command you are ready to run and customize Alfresco. In the very same place 🙂
  • Zero download approach: the SDK will take care of downloading the appropriate Alfresco artifacts from the Alfresco Artifacts Repository. Also no DB or application server is required, as the SDK will runAlfresco emdedded on Jetty + H2.
    Note:
    this configuration is not part of the supported stacks, so should be used only for development purposes
  • Zero BS development approach: with new SDK the focus is your creativity, no more boring configuration or hacks to make a particular work.  Just get the setup right with an archetype and start to kicking it on Alfresco 🙂
  • Zero defect is the main objective of the SDK: with support for AMP unit and integration testing, as well as integration with the strong enterprise development process feature of Maven (e.g. CI, release mgmt, etc.), you can get you Alfresco development to another level. This was made thanks to the availability of POM files for Alfresco Artifacts (as of Alfresco 4.2.b).

NOTE: For those of you wondering about naming and version: yes, the Maven Alfresco SDK 1.0 superseded the old version of the Maven Alfresco Archetypes / Lifecycle 3.9.1.  As of Alfresco Community 4.2.b the Maven Alresco SDK 1.o is the recommended solution.

But without further ado, I can’t wait to join the other Alfresco Rockstarts at the DevCon hackaton, I’m sure we can boost some productivity down then with this SDK. Once again, check out the project website for full docs.

I want to thank you everyone involved in making this happen (especially Mao and Samuel) as we believe it will be a major improvement for the developers, architects and administrators of Alfresco project, finally providing a solid foundation to doGreatWork() and this great product.

Enjoy and let us know your feedback!

Confluence and Alfresco integration … am I seeing double? :)

Abstract:

Funny little story about open source business models and trends: this story goes about the long time discussed and awaited Alfresco Confluence integration, and goes back of almost one year. Confluence is the Enterprise wiki solution from Atlassian, while Alfresco…well I guess it does not need introductions on this blog 🙂

Short preamble:

This project started  in June 2009 hosted in Google code as joint open source initiative by Alfresco and an Alfresco pan-european partner,  Sourcesense: originally hosted on Google Code under the name “Confluence Alfresco Plugin“.  The project was originally meant to provide access to Alfresco documents from Confluence macros, and was based on the Alfresco proprietary webscripts ReST API. After a promising initial implementation was drafted, the project has not seen any commits as of Jun 2009: the reason behind this sudden stop was  that this implementation was based on very specific Alfresco APIs, and the rise of an Open Standard like CMIS would have made such an approach an early obsolete product.

Where one seem to stop, another rises from its ashes: as natural continuation of the Confluence Alfresco project, in the very same mid 2009 in Google Code a new project is opened under the, more generic, name of Confluence CMIS Plugin. As the name suggests, the scope of this set of Confluence macros was, not just to integrate Alfresco, but to provide Confluence a more generic support for any CMIS compliant repository: this open source & open standard approach was based on the initial versions of Apache Chemistry Java client, still under heavy development at that time, but already attracted some buzz in the Confluence community.

Present times:

Almost one year has passed since then, and I keep on receiving requests (almost on a weekly basis) from Alfresco partners and customers interested in an Enterprise solution for Alfresco Confluence integration.

What happened with Confluence Alfresco (and its successor Confluence CMIS plugin)?

Looking a bit deeper at the project’s mailing lists you can find some hint of what’s going on:

Sounds a bit like the ant vs grasshopper battle, doesn’t it?  🙂
My view:

First of all, I must say I really do hope the two efforts will soon be consolidated into one, both from an open source contributor and also Alfresco business perspective.  Still for now, we’ll have to stick and choose one.

Those who know me already might already be guessing this: at the moment, I quite like the approach of the Confluence CMIS plugin, and not only because you can actually check out the code from Google Code / get snapshot releases NOW and have macros in your Confluence to work against any CMIS repository.

Ah, and also not just because I’m a committer in the Apache project (Chemistry) developing OpenCMIS, which is now used by this plugin 🙂

The reason is instead that I really do prefer an open approach to ECM, especially about building integrations, and that comes out of the my very personal idea of software development.

IMHO, being software development a process, there’s more to it than just a good mix of high quality code and good sales/marketing skills: to build a successful (and scalable) solution, you need to have a sustainable and lean process backing up the development of your solution, a process where systems and people can interact on standards basis and clear information flows, like the ones a controlled open source process can offer.

Conclusions:

The Confluence Alfresco CMIS integration story, is just one example of how the very same solution can be approached in multiple ways: with no doubt, from my perspective, the CMIS based approach is bound to be superior in terms of longevity and maintainability (thus reliability of the business model).

Also, in order to achieve a much broader target, it might be beneficial to keep it in the open source arena: this way, it might get the resonance and the broader adoption that the Confluence community is waiting to actually start consolidating content in more advanced ECM platforms like Alfresco (or any other CMIS compliant server), based on top notch libraries like OpenCMIS (BTW, we’re working toward a first release out soon).

And don’t get me wrong, I’m not just a Stallmann style fundamentalist: it’s still perfectly possible to develop proprietary (and maybe enterprise specific) extensions which might use a different licensing and business model, and maybe Alfresco specific capabilities. I just believe that for core ECM functionalities and product integration, it’s just always better to stick to the standard (especially after all the work put into the CMIS process).

And that sounds especially reasonable,  if you think that both Alfresco (LGPL licensed) and Confluence (offering free hosting for Open Source projects) have important stakes in the Open Source community and potentially customer/prospects which value the extended benefits of an Open (source + standard) approach.

And if you not convinced yet, I have few more thoughts on what I mean by Open (source and standard) ECM