Alfresco Community conversations on the future of UI

It looks like this weekend many Alfresco Community members (from inside and from outside Alfresco Inc) have been buzzing about the future of the product. The conversation happened mainly in Twitter and it were originated by two blog posts coming from Alfresco Order of the Bee members:

I’d like to start saying that my opinion has nothing to see with real facts, as I were only imagining an utopia that would never happen. On the other hand, Jeff article was based in official information from Alfresco but it has also personal points of view.

I speak about Alfresco because I love Alfresco and I love to talk about Alfresco with you. Sometimes I miss that Internet is probably not the right place to start this kind of discussions around the product, so I’ll try to keep this in mind for the future.

I really enjoy sharing my point of view with Ole, Mario, Eugenio, Mauricio, Richard, Francesco and many other Alfresco employees. They are always open to talk and they are always doing their best to improve the product. Thank you all for that openness attitude.

I find also amazing how the Community cares about the product. And contributions are not only coming from Order of the Bee members but also from many other people.

I’m gathering below some reactions to the tweets just to show how many different points of view are valid for the same thought.

Dave Draper

I think you’re asking the wrong question. You shouldn’t be asking “what” is going to replace Share but rather “why” nothing has replaced it yet. And the answer is simple… Alfresco has bet on ADF, but it isn’t good enough to implement anything that can replace Share.

Jan Pfitzner

It took some years until Share was really ‚customer-ready‘ & some people haven’t taken this as lessons learned. It‘s easy to impl a one-use-case app with modern JS Frameworks & component libs, but it‘s really hard stuff to build a customisable and extendable one-fits-all client.

And imo that one-fits-all client is not really needed as it often driving towards bad UX… but a specific component lib like ADF should be build on top of standards & not an opinionated framework…

Javier Martínez

Honestly, we were complaining about Share for years because the frameworks (YUI), tech and so on.. until @_DaveDraper did magic.. but, Do you think the “Content Services” UI matter?, really?

Ronny Timmermans

Alfresco should not even bother to build a front- end framework. It should build an innovative back- end and leverage the creative eco- system to build a generic or many specific ui (frameworks). Alfresco has nothing to add in the JavaScript ui world, but a, lot in the back-end.

Angel Borroy

My opinion is that @Alfresco will be more expensive to use (both CE & EE) and I don’t see yet if it’ll be worth it

Jens Goldhammer

You are not alone with these thoughts… and there will be no OOTB client anymore. Non big enterprise customers will never understand that. Seems that Alfresco completely looses market focus…

Ole Heljskov

Two questions: 1) What features do you expect from an OOTB webapp? 2) When was the last time you shipped that OOTB app with no customizations? We have an extra Office Hours mid December, this would be a good place to have this conversation.

Jeff Potts

Everyone customizes Share to some extent, but often it is very minor. I think Angel is saying if the answer is always going to be “You must start by building something with ADF,” that’s an expensive proposition

Ole Heljskov

No matter how many (safe) extension points an OOTB app provides, you will always have that one customer req. that can’t be done without going beyond the safe extensions. At this point I (personally, not speaking on behalf of my employer) believe a custom app is the better choice

Dave Draper

Can an ADF app support extension points as Share does? When is this new OOTB app going to arrive? What apps is Alfresco building to prove ADF is good enough? Why aren’t they public?

Jens Goldhammer

Timing is a big issue here- other vendors which have a working ecosystem can do that, but not Alfresco at this time . You will loose a lot of solutions which have built on top of Share and you have no replacement. A valid strategy looks different, sorry.

Ronny Timmermans

If alfresco offers a very powerful api, more integration (Google drive, office 365, email) and nurtures its partner eco system, the partners will assemble clients quickly and leverage external innovation (angular 2, react). We never bet on share. We love content services.

Younes Regaieg

I honestly don’t think so, at least nothing more than a sample widget. I think alfresco is shifting from an OOTB one-fits-all solution to more vertical solutions built from the grounds up to serve a specific businesses… Probably generating more work for partners and community.

Axel Faust

Don’t know if more work for partners/community because product is stripped and no new one in sight is a good thing. I also see it extremely lopsided for partners, because which customer is going to prefer mix&matching dozens of divergent apps for granular features from community?

Bindu Wavell

I think Workdesk got this balance pretty solidly right. An app shell with a solid plugin framework. Lots of useful plugins provided and you configure in what you want and not what you don’t want. Easy to make custom plugins. Mostly focused on user roles and features.

 

“Community is one of the main strengths of Alfresco” (Gartner said).

So many different points of view… And everyone trying to contribute to make Alfresco better! Probably next DevCon will be the right place to have these conversations. Don’t miss it out!

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What’s happening with Alfresco UI?

From 2016, Alfresco and some other ECM products changed drastically their delivering strategy. This decision was not taken because of the users or the technology, the main reason was Gartner.

Reinventing ECM: Introducing Content Services Platforms and Applications (G00319354)” killed classical ECM concept and produced a new Content Services scenario for every ECM player.

The scenario defines three main areas:

  • Platforms, including mainly the classical ECM repository
  • Components, including functionaly and tools in a microservices point of view
  • Applications, including real content use cases

Every area is related with the others by using APIs and Connectors.

Alfresco reaction was called Digital Business Platform and it’s represented as a boxes diagram describing several components of the platform: Analytics, Governance Services, Process Services, Content Services and Search Services. APIs and connectors are also representated as OpenAPIs, Open Standards, Integrations, Extensions and Application Development Framework.

However, application concept is missing and I wonder why.

Alfresco Share has been the traditional application for the users since 2009 but Alfresco suddenly stopped this year the development of this application to focus on the new ADF Components framework based in Angular. As it can be guessed from the name, ADF are only building blocks to produce web applications but it is not and it is not going to be a replacement for Alfresco Share. One of the main differences between Share and ADF is that Share uses old REST API while ADF is built on the new REST API based in Swagger / OpenAPIs. So, when old REST API will be removed from the product, Alfresco Share will stop working. Additionally, Share was a pure open source application, as source code was the same in both Alfresco Enterprise and Community Editions.

So, if Alfresco is not releasing an official application for the product, how this application gap will be filled?

I can imagine different scenarios, but probably the model will be the same adopted for Activiti: develop an application only available for Enterprise. And remember that this strategy mainly provoked Flowable fork last year. Obviously, integrators and private companies would create alternative applications for Alfresco repository based in these ADF Components, but without a reference application from Alfresco many Community users are going to be excluded from the ecosystem. And likely Alfresco brand will be devaluated as many users will have no access to a quality experience.

Obviously these are only my own thoughts and they have nothing to see with any official Alfresco resources. Let’s see what news are presented in next DevCon!

I’m — speaking at Alfresco DevCon 2018

Alfresco DevCon 2018 call for papers review has been closed this week. All my proposals have been rejected so I can say that I’m not speaking at the conference.

As a member of the reviewing committee, I’ve been evaluating the selection process to produce a fair schedule but I realised that this is impossible. There are so many details to be considered and so many great talks and speakers that we probably missed something. Anyway every accepted submission is excellent, so we can be sure that you’ll be in troubles to select your desired track for every slot.

On the other hand, I’ve been producing a lot of Alfresco related material during the last year…

BeeCon 2017

  • Local organiser
  • Teaching a full learning class for beginners
  • 2 full sessions presented
  • Named MVP of the conference

Blog post

Conferences

Alfresco Tech Talk Live

Alfresco Global Virtual Hack-a-thon

Alfresco certifications

  • Alfresco 5 ACE
  • Alfresco 5 ACA

New open source addons (created and contributed during 2017)

  • 20+ addons available at GitHub

Alfresco Community

Authoring a book (in Spanish)

… so probably is the right time to stop for a while and to re-think my next steps.

Updated December 12, 2017

Finally one of my Lightning Talks  has been rescued from the waiting list, so I’ll be speaking at DevCon. And I’ll be dealing with cutting the edge technologies:  How to extend (properly) and “old” Alfresco Share feature Don’t miss it out!

So if your submission was not accepted, do not feel sad, just enjoy the conference.

See you next January in Lisbon!