Review – Alfresco 4 Enterprise Content Management Implementation.

Alfresco 4 Enterprise Content Management Implementation

Its been over 3 years, since I reviewed Alfresco 3 Enterprise Content Management Implementation.  Since then, Munwar Shariff has published revised version for Alfresco 4 Enterprise Content Management Implementation.  I thought it was a good opportunity to catch up on the latest features of Alfresco 4.  Unlike previous book reviews, I personally purchased this book.

If you are new comer to Alfresco, then this book is for you.  It covers all the basics for Alfresco 4.1.2 Enterprise Edition.  If you are familiar with Alfresco 3 or you have purchased the previous version Alfresco 3 book, there is not really much of a change.  In fact, the table of contents of Alfresco 4 is pretty much the same as Alfresco 3.  You can see my previous blog post for highlights of Alfresco 3.

I will cover the new stuff that has been introduced in the Alfresco 4 version of the book.

Chapter 1 introduces new Solr search and Activiti workflow engine for Business Process Management.  There is entire chapter dedicated to Activiti later on.  It also includes brief descriptions of newer products like Alfresco in the cloud, Alfresco Workdesk, as well as enhancements to iPad and Android mobile apps.

Chapter 9 discusses various methods to integrate with other applications.  In this version of the book, the author provides more in-depth coverage of Web Scripts.  There are several examples of webscripts that reader can use as starting point to integrate with other systems. The chapter also describes the REST APIs that can be used as well.

Chapter 10 has been entirely rewritten (as compared to Alfresco 3 book).  It reads more like an administrator training manual and assumes that the reader understands the purpose of Alfresco Share vs Alfresco Explorer.

I got the most value out of this book from Chapters 8 and 13.

Chapter 8 covers both simple workflows and advanced workflows.  Support for advanced workflows is now provided by Activiti workflow engine.  The author does an excellent job introducing BPMN and workflow basics of Activiti workflow.  There are step by step instructions on how to use Activiti Process Designer to define custom workflow as well as potential extensions to the individual tasks in the workflow.

Chapter 13 introduces the integration between Ephesoft and Alfresco.  If you are not familiar with various scanning products like Captiva and Kofax, Ephesoft is open source product that integrates directly with Alfresco.  Not only does it have basic features OCR and indexing, it also has ability to classify and automatically extract data from forms.

All of major ECM vendors have advanced workflow engine and integration with advanced scanning solution.  With the introduction of the Activiti and tight integration with Ephesoft, Alfresco 4 is quickly catching up to EMC, IBM, and Microsoft.  I am glad that the author covered these two topics; my only wish is that he would have covered them in more detail.

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