We last posted our thoughts about the Gartner review of the ECM industry back in 2011. With the updated report released (EMC offers a download here), we thought we would share our thoughts for clients evaluating ECM tools. As we did back in 2011, we will not try to cover all of the ECM vendors but focus on certain ones based on our experience. Continue reading
We met with a client this week that is evaluating the Active Wizard for an electronic forms infrastructure to replace many paper, Word and PDF forms within the organization. The Active Wizard is TSG’s most popular Open Source offering (currently on version 4.0). This post will present the “high priority” requirements along with our thoughts and capabilities of the Active Wizard.
TSG recently worked with a client with requirements to store Adobe InDesign files within Alfresco. Adobe InDesign allows for the design and creation of various page layouts for print or digital distribution. Pages may be comprised of various components, including fonts, images, videos, and audio. Hence, a single InDesign file may be contain a single page layout, with pointers to multiple source files from various locations.
Similar to our Open Source efforts, most of our ideas for posts come from clients. For this post, we will address a question from a client evaluating Adobe LiveCycle ES2 and TSG’s Active Wizard as part of a forms effort.
“In a nutshell, what are the differences between Adobe LiveCycle and Active Wizard?”
This is a difficult question for a few reasons: Continue reading
To give an update on the Active Wizard Enhancements we were working on last month, we recently finished up all development and testing of the Flex-based checkin/checkout interface against Documentum. We delivered to our client this week, but I wanted to share some of the challenges we ran into, specifically related to running an application using Flash.
One of our current Active Wizard clients is making the move from the classic ActiveFlow component of the Active Wizard to the new Flex-based ActiveFlow component, for filling out their forms. The Flex ActiveFlow is based on our AWLite product and as mentioned in a previous post, allows for a streamlined interface that is more user-friendly and intuitive.
Since the very first Momentum (1996 in a very windy Miami), the Documentum user community has pushed for a more reliable means to convert mostly Microsoft office documents into PDF. Back then, during a wrap-up luncheon, the feedback on AutoRender ( a previous incarnation of DTS) was anything but positive. Similar to some complaints today, some of the main complaints included:
- Having to monitor/reboot the AutoRender Server throughout the day
- Unreliable PDF Transformation included:
- Unsupported Document Types
- Font Replacement
- Broken links
At the time, Documentum threw some engineering effort into AutoRender to address some of the shortcomings. One of the changes was to have AutoRender reboot itself (not really a fix but it did address some of the shortcomings). Like other products from Documentum, TSG is occasionally asked for alternatives. This post will address some of the tools we use in non-Documentum environments that could easily be adapted to the PDF rendition needs for Documentum.
For a couple of our non-Documentum customers, we have leveraged the Adobe LiveCycle component PDF Generator. We have been very impressed with their reliability and functionality. Considering Adobe created the best known implementation of Portable Document Format, it makes sense to rely on Adobe technology to convert your native content.
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.
Back in 2007, we started offering a presentation for clients, “What’s Next for Documentum?” The presentation focused on what mature Documentum clients are doing “next”. Typically, mature customers:
- have an existing production install of Documentum
- have implemented tools “out of the box” with some or extensive customizations
- have had some success
- ….and are looking for “What do I do Next?”
This post will share new, innovative or just different items we see our clients doing or considering for Documentum as well as links to other posts that depict their choices.
Documentum Upgrade – When?
When to upgrade is a difficult decision for many clients. Many existing Documentum clients are on paid support (version 5.3 or before) this year given reduced budgets, the cost of the upgrade, the effort of the upgrade combined with the difficulty of upgrading their application that either is unsupported or would require re-write to leverage the new Documentum interface.
For an overall upgrade understanding – try our Documentum Upgrade Planning Guide.
Look throughout blog.tsgrp.com for many posts including upgrade alternatives, extends versus modifies in 6.5, understanding the impact of WDK development, migration, clone or in-place upgrade, high volume server, common upgrade questions, and upgrading your application now to make upgrading Documentum easier later
External Users – Extending capabilities beyond the firewall
We have seen a push to add additional third parties or external users to Documentum. Typically this would be a related party responsible for creating of Documents. Interfaces are somewhat different in that, while they can create/approve documents, the interface should limit the third party from only seeing documents or completing a limited set of functions.
SharePoint – 2010 increases pressure on Documentum
SharePoint continues to be a major influence at the bulk of our clients. SharePoint users can be very vocal in their desire to “dump Documentum”. Clients struggle with wanting to satisfy SharePoint users but understand that a typical SharePoint environment focuses on collaboration with collaboration being very different from the current Documentum installation. Providing the scale, image and records management and maintaining indexing consistency are all requirements of most ECM systems and something that SharePoint 2007 can’t always accomplish. As Microsoft releases SharePoint 2010 with more robust ECM features, we would anticipate that this pressure would increase.
Look throughout blog.tsgrp.com for many posts including SharePoint Myths, SharePoint – Adding ECM Structure and Active Wizard/SharePoint Integration. Also, look for OpenMigrate to have continued support for a SharePoint source as well as the upcoming release to support an SharePoint target.
Documentum Software Audit – Managing Licenses
While this is not new in 2010, we but have steadily seen an increase in EMC Software Audits since 2005 with a big increase in the 4th quarter of 2009. Clients are getting better at documenting system usage and working with their sales reps to actively manage their license and maintenance costs.
Consumer Interface – Continued Focus
Multiple clients are continuing to look to push content out of Documentum for consumers. Whether tied to fault tolerance, performance, upgrade prep or licensing, many have developed strategies to push released content either with SCS or OpenMigrate to an external DataBase and file store.
Non Webtop Interfaces – Less Training – better Performance
Similar to the consumer interface, we are seeing more “non-Webtop” interfaces begin to proliferate at clients. Initially this was focused on image, workflow or improving Documentum search within Webtop. Recently, typical Webtop installations are looking to move certain users, like the consumers mentioned above, off of Documentum Webtop. This could involve just approvers (both internal and external) or offering a simpler author interface.
Lucene – FAST/Verity Replacement and DSS
Many clients are tired of “waiting for Documentum Search Services (DSS)” and have begun to deploy Lucene internally for either a cached consumer repository or Documentum itself.
Look for a post here on one client’s comparison of FAST to Lucene given their content and search scenarios.
CenterStage, Cloud, CMIS, Fatwire – what do these mean?
We have seen clients considering CenterStage, utilizing the cloud (ex: Amazon EC2), the upcoming CMIS specification as well as concern about recent Fatwire alliance. Most of our clients are taking a “wait and see” approach given the economy and some concern about being early adopters rather than followers. We’ve seen this same approach with the upgrade decision as well.
Other “what’s next” items include of Adobe Flex to create a better user interface, form and workflow enhancements, browser based annotation services and other items that will be posted here In the coming months . If you are looking for our 2007 “What’s Next” presentation, a Screencam with sound is still available on our site.
Clients who use the Active Wizard for forms and workflow systems often wonder if third party users or other users outside Documentum can participate in the form creation process. With our new Active Wizard Lite (AWLite) product, it is now possible for non-Documentum users can easily fill out dynamic Active Wizard forms!
We’ve seen the following scenarios over the past few months:
Anonymous External Users
One of our current Active Wizard clients is now using AWLite for filling out building permit application forms. Any user with internet access can fill out an Active Wizard form through AWLite on the client’s website. The potential user base is unknown, so it makes sense to fill out this form outside Documentum. Since AWLite simply uses a file system and SQL database to store form data, the client does not need to grant anonymous access to Documentum.
Third Party Form Creation
Another Active Wizard client gathers data and supporting documents from an external third party agency to create forms. Without Active Wizard Lite, communication bounces back and forth in order to gather the necessary data to create the form. With AWLite, however, the third party users can simply fill out the form outside Documentum. OpenMigrate is then used to move the data from the AWLite environment to Documentum, where the Active Wizard users can review the form, make any necessary changes and start the workflow:
Overall, TSG is very exited about our new Active Wizard Lite offering. Benefits of using AWLite include:
- Small back-end footprint – AWLite does not rely on Documentum. AWLite can simply use a server file system and a SQL-compliant database to store form data. This back-end architecture is much easier to setup and maintain, and can be achieved using entirely Open Source software.
- Licensing – in both of the cases above it did not make sense to add Documentum user licenses for the users creating forms. By using AWLite, the clients avoid needing additional licenses, while also avoiding anonymous access to Documentum.
- Next-generation interface – AWLite uses our next-generation user interface based on Adobe Flex. The flex interface is easy to use, interactive, and cross-browser compatible. Plus, AWLite behaves more like a desktop application – for example, server communication does not involve page refreshes and field validations happen in real time.
To see Active Wizard Lite in action, check out the Active Wizard Lite demo in the TSG Learning Zone!