Preparing for the EMC IIG Future

Its taken a while but I did say after the event in Lisbon that I would put together some advice for people who are currently skilled in IIG products which will enable them to prepare for the future. In Lisbon a number of major announcements were made on the IIG products which will start to change the products in the next few years, no timescales were given. Some of these changes were:

- the move to the Next Generation Information Server(NGIS) and away fro the Content Server;

- the move away from WDK and towards RCMP for all web clients;

- more cloud enablement of the product stack;

- the introduction of XPlore (technical not announced in Lisbon but the timing of its introduction lets me put it in here!);

So if I was advising a Documentum developer on what to learn what would I advise them to do, in no particular order:

- learn XPlore, depending on what exposure you have to the search components of Documentum most people will need to know the basics of XPlore;

- download, install and try things in Centerstage. Why? Its the first client based on RCMP and if you can start to master development on this platform now you will be well placed when the new clients, such as xCP 2.0, come out. I’d recommend trying with all the facets of it including adding Widgets which could provide integration points with other systems;

- download, install and start to learn xDB. It may take some time for NGIS to be delivered but it will be based on xDB as the database. Learning it now will put you ahead of the game, I would look at starting to build some apps which use the engine for management of structured data which you currently find you need to model in your current Documentum based apps e.g. the POLE model (Person, Object, Location and Event);

- try out the CMIS connectors, a slightly different approach but try different methods of using the CMIS connectors on Documentum. Think of some scenarios where this may be required, e.g. an ERP system which requires to pull documents from multiple content repositories. Try it with multiple Documentum repositories and then throw in a alternative such as Alfresco or SharePoint 2010.

These are just some ideas and they may not get you ahead in the world today, but in the future you’ll be in a strong position.

 

Momentum 2008: Developing Web 2.0 with Centerstage

This was a more technical session than the previous one I posted about, really looking to get more under the hood of Centerstage and look at some of its key concepts. Some of the concepts include:

- Space, e.g. an eRoom, i.e. an area where a group of people can work together. Each space appears as a tab, much like tabbed browsing (Why not just use the tabbed browsing functionality in the browser then and not have the look repeated?)

- Page, a collection of content, attachments, widgets. It is a composite view of ‘objects’. Pages can be templated for reuse. Pages themselves can be versioned.

- Section, a collection of pages within a Space. These also can have templates to ensure commonality.

- Tags, each object can be tagged. These are implemented through relationships and thus are not keywords, this also helps in terms of management of your tags. There are views available which are driven by tags, e.g. I can see all information for a given tag, implemented like tag clouds. I can also select which tags are important to me thus reducing the clutter in the tag cloud.

We then moved on to the architecture which was of real interest. A large block diagram was put on the screen which showed the various layers in the Centerstage architecture. The points I took from this are:

- provide clear separation in the layers;

- use of DHTML and other RIA toolkits;

- UI based on a combination of RCMP (Rich Content Management Platform), ExtJS and DWR (Direct Web Remoting);

- interaction with the core of Documentum through services, WS*;

- DWR is a custom protocol for Java <-> Javascript;

- ExtJs gives no server side page generation, exact version was 2.2;

- No JSPs;

- widgets can be developed and added fairly easily;

- widgets provide customisation but can also be done through XML configuration and some policy objects;

- widgets will tend to be a collection of .js and .css, but flex and silverlight will also be supported;

- views are a grouping within a tab, these are exposed as a ‘chiclet’ – made me chuckle anyway!

- flows through the UI are defined by actions which are a flow through the containers, defined in xml on the server;

Other things to note in the session:

- content in Centerstage will be exposed through Webtop, but the look will be slightly different;

- the product was compared to the tenets of Web 2.0, unfortunately not the tenets I would have used which are SLATES

Overall this is an exciting product, I think there will be opportunities for it but as I said previously it is a crowded marketplace. It is a big shift in technology for Documentum and I wonder how long they will stick with WDK before they move to this approach for all their clients….its something new for the techies to get their teeth into and we will have a couple of years when we need to be proficient in WDK and RCMP, which is the label they gave it.

The last thing I will say on this though is that I believe this is the nearest EMC will get to a Portal, without purchasing a Portal product. Not a J2EE Portal container but the paradigm of widgets is very similar to that of widgets and I can imagine users asking to see some custom widgets which interact with other systems such as an ERP system or MOSS. The Portal word was never used by EMC and this is not their published approach but it does not take too much brainpower to see the analogy.

Momentum 2008: Introduction to Centerstage

My first open session of Momentum and an opportunity to hear more on Centerstage. Previously I have read about Centerstage and had a few discussions with people, I was hoping to build on this knowledge. For those that don’t Centerstage is the new UI from Documentum, it is not a replacement for webtop but is more in the eRoom space. It is close to Sharepoint in its style.

An introduction was given on how the way we work has changed. Changes in the way we interact on the web are feeding into the enterprise. People are always connected and expect to receive information in a timely fashion. The information which they receive should be managed in a CMS.

Centerstage has been produced to promote sharing, to promote people working in a community and to overcome the problem of information silos.

Some of the key points from the demo:

- the UI is very configurable;

- ease of use was a primary objective;

- the new faceted search looks great, this lets the user perform a search and then narrow this down further through facets…basically sets of metadata;

- one such metadata item is the topic, this looks like keywords but more on that in a later session;

- it includes the concept of a widget which can be added to the page/site (more on these later too!);

- pages consist of a mix of widgets and inline content;

- Pro version will include Public Spaces (need to find out more about these);

- the product is about providing composite views of information;

- everything is RSS subscribeable;

- everything can be tagged, these are implemented as relationships;

- Pro will include a greater choice of available widgets;

- quick view of the mobile solution, looked very much like a twitter interface;

- solution plans for customisations, called extension points;

- they introduced the new layer for interoperability, named Rich Content Management Platform (RCMP);

Overall this really was an introduction session, I’ll attend the more technical ones to get a better idea of how it works. I was really impressed with the UI but this is a move into a crowded marketplace for EMC, this is going up against a number of others mainly MOSS. The big thing that struck me in the session is that this is as near as EMC will get to having a Portal, unless they ever do purchase a Portal vendor. The concept of widgets is very similar to Portlets and will enable integration with other systems…even more so when considering the use of CMIS as an integration layer protocol. The session was very well attended which demonstrates the level of interest in the product, I’m not sure we will see much in 2009 but towards the end of year and into 2010 I think we might see some interesting options around this area.

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.