Documentum Migration to Alfresco – Development Environment Comparison

Beyond the features and look and feel of ECM user interfaces discussed in our initial posts, we recognize the importance of a stable and robust development environment necessary to facilitate the customization, support and maintenance of an ECM platform.  We also recognize that organizations who use Documentum today likely employ staff with Documentum specific skill sets, and they are probably wondering how these skills might transfer into the Alfresco world.  This post provides an overview of the commonalities and differences between both development environments.

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Documentum Migration to Alfresco – Part 1

2010 seems to be the year many of our Documentum clients are deciding (or considering) to migrate to Alfresco.  For this post, we will try to address the reasons leading to this trend.  This will be the first of several posts on the subject with follow-up posts providing more technical, application and industry examples.

First a Disclaimer

Before diving into the topic, we should state that this post is not written as a “Why everyone should migrate from Documentum to Alfresco” but more of a description of why some clients are moving or considering the move.  TSG, was an active Documentum partner from 1996 through 2010, and is still very committed to the Documentum platform and our solutions running on both Documentum and Alfresco.  We continue to be impressed with our engineering contacts at Documentum and their client support, through EMC World/Momentum and the User Groups.  As presented below, the decision on Documentum versus Alfresco is fairly complex and involves consideration of technical, development, software costs, maintenance costs as well as just relationship issues.   Every Documentum user needs to understand that Alfresco is not necessarily better than Documentum, just different.

Why are Companies considering migrating this year and not last year?

When asked, many of the responses from our Documentum clients fall into the following categories: Continue reading

Documentum Upgrade: Impact on e-Signatures

As TSG continues to help clients upgrade their Documentum environments to 6.5, support for e-Signatures has required special attention on several of our projects.  We thought we’d share a few of our lessons learned below.

Lesson Learned #1: Customization is Required to Support e-Signatures on Linux and HP-UX Platforms

e-Signatures are NOT supported by EMC on Linux and HP-UX platforms – a serious limitation for many customers.  The good news is that it is only the manifestation of the PDF e-Signature page that does not work on these platforms; all functionality related to verification and auditing of an e-Signature works as expected.  Furthermore, the method used to generate the PDF e-Signature page is designed by EMC to be customizable.  We easily implemented a custom method that leveraged iText, an OpenSource PDF manipulation library, to generate the e-Signature PDF pages from the captured signature data and Signature Page Template.  iText ( is Java based and works great on any Operating System platform!

Lesson Learned #2: e-Signatures May Become Invalid After Migrating to New Hardware

When we migrated a Documentum repository to new hardware, we learned that all existing e-Signatures became ‘invalid’ as a result of the move.  Luckily, the e-Signature audit logs were completely in tact, so existing signatures could still be viewed and referenced according to regulatory requirements.  New signatures however could not be added to any document that had a pre-upgrade e-Signature on it – users would receive the following error when they tried to signoff: [DM_SYSOBJECT_E_ESIGN_PREEXISTING_SIGNATURE_INVALID].   To overcome this issue, we had to implement a work around that involved removing the dm_sig_source PDF rendition for a document and updating the event_name audit field on the pre-upgrade e-Signature audit entries.

For more information, check out the following links:

Planning Guide for Documentum Upgrade

Pharma Documentum Upgrade Challenges and How to Avoid Them

Documentum Annotation – OpenAnnotate

Clients often struggle with adding simple annotation capabilities to Documentum or Alfresco.  Brava, PDF Annotation Services, Snowbound and Annodoc are all solutions we see regularly at clients.  Issues with these solutions include:

  • Price – per user licensing can be difficult to justify for casual or external users.
  • Support – most tools require a client side component that can be difficult to deploy or support.

Based on client requests, TSG has developed a dramatically different solution..  OpenAnnotate is a free thin client tool that allows users to review and annotate PDF documents directly within their web browser.

Summary of OpenAnnotate Key Features:

  • No Client Machine Dependencies

Thin Client viewer allows users to view and annotate documents directly in their browsers without dependencies on Adobe Reader or other viewing applications.

  • Leverages Enterprise Content Management (ECM) Systems

TSG’s OpenContent Web Services are utilized to store and retrieve annotations from an Enterprise Content Management system of your choice (i.e. Documentum, Alfresco, SharePoint, etc.)

  • Secures Document Distribution

Users only have access to image renditions of individual document pages preventing them from downloading an entire document and distributing it outside of the managing application.

  • Powered by Adobe LiveCycle Transformation Engine

TSG’s OpenContent Web Services are utilized to request document image renditions from either Adobe LiveCycle or an Open Source transformation engine.

  • Integrates with Documentum Webtop – View Demo

A Documentum Webtop Connector is available allowing users to review documents directly from Webtop.  OpenAnnotate will even display annotations originally generated using Documentum PDF Annotation Services.

OpenAnnotate also has the ability to integrate with TSG’s High Performance Interface (HPI) designed to run on an Enterprise Content Management system of your choice.

  • No Licensing Costs

TSG does not charge a licensing fee to use OpenAnnotate.

Under the Hood:

OpenAnnotate leverages Adobe LiveCycle or other Open Source software to transform PDF documents into image files that can be viewed within a web browser.  Google Web Toolkit is utilized to provide an interactive user interface for annotating.  Additionally, OpenAnnotate integrates with Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems through TSG’s OpenContent Web Services, allowing OpenAnnotate to store and retrieve annotations without being tied to one specific ECM platform.  OpenAnnotate reads and saves annotations in Adobe’s standard XFDF format, so annotations are compatible with all other tools leveraging XFDF, including Documentum’s PDF Annotation Services.