O Documentum Developer, Where Art Thou or rather Where Shall Thou Go?

I recently received an email from a Documentum developer asking about what technologies he should learn for the future, especially for job security.  Although I know Documentum technology well, I do not necessarily have a gauge on the job market.  Other bloggers like Virginia Backaitis tend to have a good pulse on the market as well as the development community.

That being said, I saw a recent blog posting about how Microsoft might be dumping .NET for HTML5 and Javascript.  This would be a game changer in the Documentum development community, which is basically comprise of two camps: java developers and .NET developers.  When Documentum version 5 came it, it was a big shift from Documentum’s proprietary API and docbasic to Java.  Documentum 5.3 provided a COM bridge that allowed Microsoft developers to call Documentum DFC (java classes).  With version 6.5, this COM bridge is no longer supported and Microsoft developers are forced to write web services to call Documentum DFS (web services).  Web services allow developers to integrate disparate systems running on different technologies (eg java vs .NET).  This was great advancement from a technical point of view, but practically it meant that a project might require both Java developer and Microsoft .NET developer.

If Microsoft is now going to switch development technologies away from .NET and to HTML+javascript, this means that learning proprietary .NET may no longer be necessary.  I bring this up because even EMC is planning to rewrite its Taskspace application using Spring and ExtJS.  I’m not sure if the SDK/customization model will be based on extended javascript, but I’m starting to see convergence on web development technology.

If I was a betting man, I would wager some money on learning ExtJS.  I wouldnt double down on it though.


6 responses to “O Documentum Developer, Where Art Thou or rather Where Shall Thou Go?

  1. Hi, I don’t think MS was contemplating dropping .Net in general. It is shifting to HTML 5 for cross-platform presentation portion of an application rather than Silverlight. But .Net will still be the premier coding framework for the Windows platform for a long time to come. While I can see writing an email or news client in HTML 5, I don’t think anyone is going to contemplate writing web server, database server or CAD software in HTML 5. [Wondering if AutoDesk is about to prove me wrong :-)]

    • I agree that for the back-end services, .NET or Java will still remain at the core of the functionality for Microsoft and Documentum respectively. What might be changing is how front-end customization will be supported by both vendors. Does this mean that there will be three types of developers required for .NET/Documentum project or does this mean a developer who has ExtJS knowledge can do both? Only time will tell and as I alluded, I wouldnt bet my life savings on this, but it would hurt to gamble a bit.

  2. Hi Johnny, about two yaers ago a little bird told me that EMC was planning to write new webtop in GXT or ExtJS. Reading your post reminded me about this conversation. Do you think that this idea is still on agenda at EMC?

    • I personally dont believe EMC is going to rewrite Webtop using ExtJS. The reason being is that they are primarily focusing their R&D efforts in xCP. They will continue supporting Webtop, but extensive rewrite is not warranted.

  3. Oh trust me it is warranted. All I ever hear is how Documentum clients are so clunky and old and why can’t they have a nice Web 2.0 interface like product X that the customer also uses. I am assailed everywhere I go by customer complaints about the lack of a modern interface. Honestly, I can’t really argue much with these customers since they really do have a point. EMC has had lots of time to develop a slick ajax-y interface and if they lose customers because they have failed to do so then they will have no one to blame but themselves.

  4. I’d say: understand how to use a REST API – that’ll be important with the release of the Mobile client (soon!) and the Documentum REST API with D7. Johnny and Marcin are certainly on the right track with ExtJs – that’ll be important. And on Marcin and Mark’s comments – EMC did announce at Momentum this year that they will release a Unified ECM Client. That will be the “modern interface” for ECM use-cases.

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