So with last week’s DevCon event in Berlin over and the second event in San Jose about to kick off, I wanted to share a few of my highlights so far, in addition to what Jeff already posted.
Last week kicked off with a full-day hackathon building on top of Alfresco, facilitated by Nathan McMinn, which I would recommend to anyone who has worked with Alfresco before and is interested in expanding their horizons. This was about people coming together to work collectively on building something in a day, and the format worked fantastically well. I believe Nathan will be posting soon on what was produced in the session.
As always John and John kicked off the main sessions with the high-level view of Alfresco, seamlessly mixing open source content management with tales from the wider IT industry and a satirical take on current global politics. If you’re interested in any of those things, it’s a must see.
I didn’t get to see as many technical sessions as I have done in previous years, but the quality of those I did see really stood out. In particular:
- The public API live coding (part 1, part 2) session by Peter, Gethin and Steve was a great opportunity to get to grips with Alfresco Cloud’s new public API, and like the hackathon it felt great to have some working code at the end, much aided by the sample project provided on the USB sticks.
- Expanding on the idea of developing your own projects, Gab Columbro’s talk on the long-awaited and brand-new Maven SDK was a highlight as much for the content as for Gab’s style, although you’ll want to do some background reading on Maven and how it differs from more traditional build tools before you use it for real.
- On the second day I attended Dave and Erik’s Share Customizations Live session where they demonstrated, through the use of site presets and extensibility modules, some concrete examples which showed them taking a vanilla Share and hacking away until it was barely recognisable. What was interesting was how the mechanisms for doing this have improved over the last year, and the point that often it is just as useful to remove non-required OOTB functions as it is to add new ones, which the framework makes easy.
- Jared’s talk on our own Integrations team and what we’ve been up to over the last year (or six months in my case), and Nathan’s overview of PDF Toolkit and the latest new features, based on the work he’s done recently building on Jared’s earlier work. If you’re interested in integrating Share with external systems and working with PDF content you’ll find both sessions really useful.
Overall what stood out this year for me was the diversity of sessions available, not only in terms of topics but in their formats as well. There were less of the traditional-style PowerPoint-only type of sessions and more richer interactive sessions.
I experimented with a local Git repo in my own Developing Great Dashlets talk, switching between eight different branches of my example project to show progressively adding more features to an at-first-basic dashlet. It was great to see others experimenting in even more ways and adding more diversity to the two days.
If you’re attending the event in San Jose you’re I’ll be presenting the same dashlets “Zero to Hero” talk on Day 1 and Day 2, plus a topic on pimping the Document Details screen with your own document viewers and a lightning talk on the fantastic Leaflet. Do join if you can!
Since I upgraded the LibreOffice installation on my Macbook to version 3.6, I’ve been playing around with the CMIS integration built into this version. This is currently an experimental LibreOffice feature, which means you should not use this against a production server.
The integration allows LibreOffice to connect to a remote Alfresco server in order to open and save documents. This is a feature Microsoft Office has had for a long time, although limited to SharePoint-compatible servers (including Alfresco, via our SharePoint protocol support!). Now you can do the same thing with LibreOffice, via the magic of CMIS.
The first thing to do is to enable LibreOffice’s experimental features within the Preferences dialogue.
After you’ve confirmed that change, you can open a file stored in Alfresco using the standard Open menu. When the file browser loads, you should notice a small button next to the location drop-down menu labelled with an ellipsis (…).
Clicking that button allows you to add a server. LibreOffice supports a range of server types, including the CMIS AtomPub service provided by Alfresco.
First you must enter a name for the server – I entered ‘Alfresco’ – and select the server type. If you do not see CMIS (Atom Binding) in the list then check to ensure that you have LibreOffice 3.6+ and that you have enabled Experimental Features.
The binding URL for Alfresco 4.2 will be something like http://localhost:8080/alfresco/cmisatom if you are running a local instance. I found that if I used the legacy CMIS URL below /alfresco/service (or the short form /alfresco/s) then document saves did not work, but the newer URL worked great.
Next is the slightly tricky part, entering the CMIS repository ID. Your Alfresco instance will only expose one repository, but other CMIS providers provide others, and so you need to enter this.
Hitting the repository binding URL directly will give you the ID, but unfortunately the non-standard document MIME type returned means it does not open directly in a web browser. You could save the response to disk and then use a text editor to view its contents, but I found it easier to use curl at the command line, together with less.
curl -u admin:admin http://localhost:8080/alfresco/cmisatom | less
In the response, do a search for the string repositoryId and within that element you should see a GUID value which you can copy and paste into the dialogue in LibreOffice.
The last item you need to enter is the username that will be used to access Alfresco (you will enter the password later).
You should now have the full set of information needed to add the server. Click OK, and it should be added to the side panel on the left of the Open dialogue.
You can navigate through the folders below the repository’s Company Home space, and open any compatible document. I used the Word documents located under Sites > swsdp > documentLibrary > Meeting Notes, which opened perfectly.
You can make any modifications, hit Save and the content will be automatically saved back into Alfresco.
I also tried creating a new document from the New menu, and was able to save the document back to a folder Alfresco via the Save As dialogue. I found I needed to set the correct MIME type for new documents back in Alfresco Share to get previews to work, but this could easily be done using a rule.
All in all not bad for an experimental feature, and it will be interesting to see if this makes it into LibreOffice 3.7 for real.