Shameless Plug

Well my better half has finally decided to take the plunge and after a few months of toying with the idea she is packing in work as a Business Analyst for a major Financial company to commit herself to a business she has started up.

So far she has not expressed a need for an ECM solution to assist but I’ll keep her abreast of the latest developments if she needs to.

So if you know someone who has just had a baby or knows someone who likes new baby gifts or baby keepsake boxes point them in the direction of Angel Gift Company.

D6.5

D6.5 has been announced on Powerlink now with the following focus areas:

- Platform improvements

- Knowledge Worker solutions e.g. CenterStage

- Transactional Content Management

- Interactive Content Management

- Compliance and Archiving

I’m really interested in the the Knowledge Worker solutions and Transactional Content Management up front but the improvements to the platform and the Compliance and Archiving views need to be looked at as well.

Taking Centerstage and some words on MOSS

Documentum have announced that Magellan will now be named Centerstage, not sure about the name but it sure beats Magellan.

I was fortunate enough to see a demonstration/presentation a couple of weeks ago and it is very interesting. In fact I know of customers who are taking notice and starting to consider whether they should rush into a SharePoint integration with this coming down the line.

Speaking of which I’ve had some time looking at SharePoint recently and some quick findings are below. Its not the first time I have looked at it as I was the lead on a company intranet which was built on an early version of SharePoint but it has moved on since then.

- The UI is great, no doubt about that, it is so easy to chop and change the views and make everything easy for the end user.

- Usability, as a result, is no problem….I can imagine the cost of training is minimal compared to the problems with Webtop.

- Starting workflows is remarkably similar to in Webtop.

- Building workflows is a pain, unless you buy a 3rd party product prepare to get your hands dirty, very dirty.

- Audit capability….mmmmm. Have a good look at this, its not what it may appear at first sight.

- Lists, nice and easy…great feature…just don’t go over 2000 entries.

- Search, poor but then they have now got FAST so expect improvements.

SOA Conversation

So I was on the train the other day when I overheard a conversation between two IT professionals. One was a young budding Web Developer and other a more experienced technician. I didn’t listen in on purpose but my ears pricked up when they started on one subject.

Budding Developer – ‘So you must be considering SOA then…?’

Old Hack – ‘Yes, its something we muct look into.’

Budding Developer – ‘So what product are you using then?’

I didn’t say anything but it does surprise me that people still think putting in a product gives you an SOA. Its not about a product, its about an approach and how you design and build your business services and relate these to the IT services you provide. If the ideas I heard continue then this will become another failure in IT, unfortunately it won’t be the idea/paradigm which is the problem but the implementation and understanding of it.

SharePoint Workflow

I try not to pick on a product and the weaknesses it has but I’ve spent the past week working with SharePoint and in

particular its workflow capability and its integration with InfoPath. For a while I thought it was me being too picky and

relating too much to my Documentum experience but I came out from that slumber, some of this is basic workflow and the fact

that SharePoint does not do it or does not do it well was a bit of an eye opener for me. So what’s my beef:

Auditing – support for Auditing appears to be very poor, in fact when an instance of a Workflow is completed the audit trail is removed, or rather the association of the audit trail to the item. Now there are a number of solutions to this, one suggested one is to create a List to store the audit entries. Fine, but that does involve some coding to get the solution to write to the List…er not good. Then you uncover that Lists start to creak at about 200 entries….er not good at all. Auditing is a basic requirement of workflow and if a product does not support this then in a matter of fact way then its not worth its place on the list of products.

Forms – so we’re using Infopath forms to render forms. We’re not using MOSS, we’re using WSS. We wanted to have an Infopath form be displayed for a task which updates a data object, but we do not want to access the full data object…its unnecessary. One would think this is a straightforward requirement, oh no. In fact as we are not using MOSS only WSS, but with Forms Server, the tasks cannot be presented as Infopath forms…they need to be built as aspx forms; I can see my development work increasing all the time here. Then it becomes clear that SharePoint does not really support the idea of forms updating other objects, or parts therein, the full form should be displayed. I have to say I still doubt whether my reading of this is correct….but if it is, another black mark.

All in all it has been a less than positive experience of using SharePoint workflow. If I’ve misunderstood something above then drop me a note and I will correct it but unless there is a very big eureka moment I won’t be running to a customer with SharePoint as a solution to some of their business processing problems!