There has been an increased activity in the Open Source Portal and Content Management Products space. Many new versions have been released in recent times and there’s much more to follow. Joomla!, Alfresco, OpenCms, Liferay and JBoss all released their next versions.
Joomla! released their first ever version (although Beta). This was a completely re-written code base without any Mambo code.
Alfresco have released the Alfresco Community Release 2.1 (Release Candidate). This includes WCM RC 2.1 and Records Management RC 2.1 also. Some of the features useful for me and some observations are as follows:
- There’s a very nice integration with MS Word. So the users can work (create, edit, check-in, check-out, workflow, metadata, rules etc.) using the familiar desktop environment instead of logging in to a web interface. You basically map alfresco repository as a shared drive using CIFS or WebDav and then do all your activities from within word. Here’s the link.
- This is a good first step and I’m hoping the good folks at Alfresco will add more features.
- A similar plugin for other desktop applications like Powerpoint and Excel
- In the current shape, the plugin works by way of a pop up window. It would be much more user friendly if instead of that, there are options like “File -> Save to Alfresco” and “File -> Open from Alfresco” with the Word menu. That will make it even easier for business users for doing simple tasks like opening and saving. This can be achieved by mapping the alfresco repository as a shared drive but then that is different from actual word integration because you can’t really check-out or check-in.
- Using this pop up mechanism, one can configure only single Alfresco repository. If there are multiple Alfresco installations, users will have to change these settings depending on which repository they are working on.
- The WCM has many new enhancements. There’s an option to do deployments to one or multiple servers from staging sand box. I think Alfresco and Magnolia are one of the few Open Source products that provide the ability to deploy content from one server to another. This provides the advantage of decoupling staging and delivery.
- There’s a Blog Publishing module. One could manage blog posts as content in Alfresco and then post to a WordPress or a TypePad blog.
- Another good feature is the ability to manage Translations and Documents in multiple languages.
- Alfresco WCM Website Framework (WSF) gives a website framework with sample forms for content entry, navigation, display templates and best practices. This can be used as a basis for building new websites and will hopefully improve time to market. This is very similar to TemplateOne sample by OpenCms. It would be good though if Alfresco could come up with a wizard or AMP based approach for configuring this sample site. Otherwise one needs to create 8 sample forms, configure display templates, configure workflows etc manually.
OpenCms also released version 7. In fact they also relaunched their site using OpenCms 7.0 and that’s a good way of proving how good it is. It has many new features like:
- An improved link management (BTW that is also there as beta functionality in Alfresco)
- WebDav access
- Ability to define relationships between different content items
- An improved security and permissioning system. You can now have delegated administration
- Usability improvements and use of Ajaxy features
Check this link for all the new enhancements. However, unlike Alfresco and Magnolia, OpenCms neither supports JSR 170 nor JSR 168.
- The ability to have the concept of staging and production environments. Typically requirements of these two environments are very different in terms of caching (you won’t cache content when authors are creating new content all the time), scalability and user groups.
- Liferay now provides the ability to host multiple portals on the same installation. This could be useful to provide an ASP or a hosted offering.
- Integration with Exchange, Eclipse and support for WebDav
- And yes, many new out of the box portlets apart from an already existing big list. Liferay has been supporting Google gadgets long before IBM and recently announced by Jboss too. There’s also this ability to use folksonomy style tags.