Enhancing Alfresco Share with HPI 2.1 – Search and Document Display

TSG will be conducting a Webinar with Alfresco on February 11 (Recording Posted) on how to enhance or extend Alfresco Share with HPI 2.1.  This post is the first in a series of posts on how HPI 2.1 can work with Share and will focus on Search and Document Display.

“Do All” Search Interface versus Configuring for User Groups

Alfresco Share, like Alfresco Explorer and other ECM interface tools, is required to fit a wide variety of document management scenarios.  To fit these scenarios as well as demonstrate complete enterprise content management functions for new clients, Share needs to provide a robust interface to demonstrate every search functions against all documents in one interface.  Share requires all users to pick either documents or folders, limited attributes or full text values (reminds us at TSG of SharePoint) and presents a common result list with some but not all attribute values.

2014-01-23 14_20_28-Alfresco » Advanced Search

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HPI takes a process driven approach to configure multiple searches for a given user group as well as different user scenarios.  Some of the unique components that differentiate HPI Search from Share include:

  • Trac or Business Group – HPI allows an administrator to configure a “trac” for a certain user group.  The trac could be represented by a user group like Accounts Payable or Legal.  In selecting a trac, a user is reducing the set of document and folder types to just those that relate to that trac.  In this manner, the document types, index fields and search results do not include document types that are not relevant for the user’s business role.  Only the document types and the fields that apply to a user’s business role are displayed which gives them a streamlined view of what they care about.
  • Folder or Document Type – Once a trac is selected, the user can select a certain document types or folder types, each configured for that track, from a drop down list.  The list only includes the document and folder types available for the user’s business function. Once selected, the HPI modifies the attribute search terms based on that document or folder type.

  • Attribute Fields – Logic can be configured on each attribute to provide drop down, type ahead, toss across and other common selection criteria.  HPI also provides for some referential consistency in regards to one value of the attributes driving other drop down values.  For example, a certain high-level attribute like ‘plant’ might drive selected values of ‘product’ to only display product choices that are available for that plant.

  • Search Results – Key to a successful search is to provide quick access to review documents.  HPI provides configurable search results that include both a table view option as well as thumbnail view option for Digital Asset searches.  Search results can be configured by the Administrators for all users based on trac and document type as well as personalized by users for what order they would like to see attribute results.  All columns in the search results can be moved or clicked on to display search order for easy sorting.  Results can be exported to Microsoft Excel for ad-hoc reporting. Search criteria are saved on the left to display what criteria was used for the current search to allow quick refinements to the search parameters.

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Document Viewing

Alfresco Share presents all documents similarly with a very robust viewing screen that shows a preview of the documents as well as provide easy access to all document management functions.

2014-01-23 14_22_59-Alfresco » Document Details

HPI takes a process-driven approach and can be configured for a variety of viewing requirements.  HPI will display the document’s PDF rendition by default if it exists in order to quickly display the document in the browser.  If the document does not have a PDF rendition, HPI will stream the content to the browser or provide a download link based on admin-configured settings.

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For our HPI clients, we have found the following benefits of leveraging the PDF rendition:

  • Quick access for View and Print from within the browser window.

  • Leverage of OpenOverlay  to put real-time headers and footers on the rendition for controlled printing.

  • Reduced reliance on native editors (ex: Word) for search and retrieval users.

Another unique interface decision for HPI was to only include document functions as icons above the PDF rendition once the document is displayed.  In this manner, those just looking to view documents aren’t distracted by all the functions that they often shouldn’t be accessing.

Folder Content Viewing – Search to sub folder rather than folder navigation

One of the questions we often receive for Share users looking at HPI is “where is the folder navigation widget?”.  Early on in the development of HPI, we determined that our users should be leveraging more of a search paradigm than a “Windows Explorer” breadcrumb approach.  Quick Folder Search, selection of a folder and then working within that folder is a key component of HPI.  In this manner, we were able to add specific functions based on folder type to each type of folder rather than a generic interface.

The next post will highlight additional differences in folder processing including:

  • Side by Side Viewing of relevant folder content

  • Folder Notes

  • Inbound/Outbound Email

  • Alerts and other process driven functions.


For Alfresco Share users, adding HPI to their Alfresco interface provides a configurable user interface to enable key functions including configurable process driven search, search results and document display.

Please sign up for our webinar with Alfresco on Feb 11 2014 at 1:00 EST.

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