Month: December 2004

Open magazine article on ECM

Short article on ECM in Open:

“The stage is changing as we speak,” says Mancini. “In the executive suites, compliance concerns rising from unmanaged documents and emails have created a demand for ECM technologies. Cascading regulatory and legal requirements coupled with exponentially increasing volumes of content–without an ECM strategy, they don’t have a chance of creating a compliant organization. What this has done is change the way ECM is viewed within organizations. ECM has moved from being an enabler of niche applications within departments to being a core infrastructure technology.”

[Open Magazine]

Dynamic charting of Documentum data using Cocoon and Xindice

Got charting working. The XMLDB pieces I noted in Step 3 and Step 4 of this post were actually very easy. The syntax for getting XML into Xindice is simple as is the querying. Once I got that going it was just a matter of hooking of the pieces of my pipeline to do what I wanted to do. I did have to tweak the XSLT that produces the SVG. I didn’t build it to handle enough data points (bars were too wide, not enough graph area, etc.).

The cron and xmldb samples were really helpful in getting this working, both from a code perspective and from a functional perspective. As I stored XML in Xindice, I’d pop over to the xmldb browser sample and browse my collection to verify that it worked as expected. I used the cron sample OOTB to set up a task to run the DQL queries against Documentum on a schedule. Going forward, I’ll need to incorporate an admin/config interface into my app for creating the cron task and browsing the xmldb collections.

Documentum-Cocoon integration progress

When I dusted off my Documentum-Cocoon integration stuff I had to do a bit of a fix up. It seems that my WDK install had either rearranged some classpath entries (maybe different versions of JARs Cocoon dependend on behind its own) or made the classpath too long. In any case, I had to update the catalina.bat file to remove the WDK entries as a temporary fix.

I then noticed that when I ran any pipelines that used my Documentum-Cocoon components, they didn’t seem to be getting called. My loggers weren’t showing any entries and the page was just coming up blank. It turned out I had taken a little too much out of my classpath. Obviously, Tomcat needs to be able to find the Documentum DFC classes because my components rely on those. It was frustrating that no one was returning a helpful message to alert me to my blunder.

Something helpful in this situation is the Cocoon Status page in the Samples area. On that page you can show the classpath. If it doesn’t see the DFC JAR and the Documentum config directory, you could be in trouble.

Plone book: Building Websites with Plone

New Plone Open Source CMS Book. Plone expert Cameron Cooper’s new book is out. ‘Building Websites with Plone’ explains how Plone works, shows how to use its many out-of-the-box features, and explains how this highly flexible system can be extended and customized. Built on the popular… [CMSwire]

I had to hit Google’s cached version of this page for some reason. Here‘s the link to the book at Amazon.

Documentum Business Process Manager

Had a look at the Documentum Business Process Management tools (BPS, BPM, Forms Builder, etc.) last week and they looked pretty good. I’m thinking if you are doing anything modestly serious with workflows you could really save yourself some time by essentially upgrading your workflow to the BPM toolset. And, obviously, if you are doing any sort of BPM like integrating with other apps via JMS (or an SOA) or pulling external enterprises into workflow processes, you really need it.

Documentum-Cocoon integration

Made some progress on the Documentum-Cocoon stuff over the Christmas break. I’m working on a piece that will allow me to dynamically build charts and graphs based on data stored in the docbase. Here’s what I’ve done and what’s left to do:

Step 1. Figure out how to build a bar chart in SVG

First, I needed to figure out how to build a chart using SVG. I found some Java code that builds charts using SVG but what I was looking to do was build the SVG programmatically using XSLT to transform my source data which will be XML coming from my Documentum Transformer.

I needed something I could use to graphically draw the chart to get me started on the SVG. I downloaded a drawing tool called Sodipodi for this. It worked great. It stores everything as SVG. So all I had to do was draw my chart and save it to get a nice XML file to start with.

Step 2: Create the SVG with XSLT

Now that I had a static SVG file I needed to create XSLT that would take source data XML and transform it into the bar chart SVG. First, I copied my static SVG file into my Cocoon install to make sure it was happy rendering it into JPEG and PNG. It was. Next, I downloaded the Batik binaries. I wanted a tool I could use to quickly view my SVG file as I tweaked it. Batik comes with an SVG viewer called Squiggle. In WSAD, I created a test XML source data file, copied my static SVG file from Step 1 into a new XSLT file, tweaked, and then viewed the results in Squiggle.

The first thing I did was add comments so I could figure out which part of the SVG did what. In Sodipodi I had set every object’s “id” attribute, so correlating the XML to the object it was describing was pretty easy. Adding comments made it easy to rearrange blocks of XML to work how I needed it to in the stylesheet.

The next thing I did was clean up the SVG by rounding off all of the numbers Sodipodi had used for the coordinates of my shapes. Obviously with a design tool everything has got to be very precise, but for what I needed, whole numbers worked just fine and it made the XML easier to look at.

I then figured out the algorithms I’d need to use to figure out how to dynamically size and position the bars and bar legends in the chart.

Finally, I replaced the hardcoded values with XSLT variables. I then updated my source XML data with new values, transformed, and voila: Dynamically generated bar chart.

Step 3: Grab the data from Documentum on a schedule

The data I need to chart is in Documentum. It changes over time. Because it’s historical data I need to get a snapshot from Documentum on a schedule and store the result somewhere. Then, my chart will be built on-demand via a Cocoon pipeline using the data that’s been captured for a given time period.

I already have a pipeline that gets the snapshot from Documentum. All I need to do is execute that pipeline on a schedule and store the result somewhere. I’ve tested out the “cron” feature of Cocoon and it works great. It allows you to execute a pipeline on a schedule. A perfect fit.

Now what I need is to put my snapshot data somewhere. I’m planning on using Xindice. It’s an XML database embedded in Cocoon (you can use a separate Xindice install if you want). My pipeline will pull data from Documentum, transform it (I really only need to store a subset/summarized cut of the data), and store it in Xindice.

To complete my work for this step, I need to look at the XML:DB examples in Cocoon to learn how to stick data in Xindice from a pipeline.

Step 4: Build the chart based on the historical data

Now that I’ve got my historical data summarized and sitting in Xindice, I need to create a pipeline that will query Xindice for the data and transform the query result using the SVG I build in Step 2.

To complete my work for this step, I need to look at the XML:DB examples in Cocoon to learn how to query XML data from Xindice using XPath. The rest should be a piece of cake.

The result

Once this is in place, I’ll have an approach and some reusable code I can use to capture and chart source data from Documentum.