Category: Alfresco Community

What’s new in Alfresco Community Edition 5.1?

This post covers the significant new features of Alfresco Community Edition 5.1. I’ve also published a YouTube video that demos the new features.

New Release Names

Alfresco Community Edition 5.1, which you may see referenced as “201602-GA”, has been released. This is the first GA release of Alfresco Community Edition using the new release naming nomenclature. Let’s talk about that first, then I’ll give you the highlights of what’s new.

In the past, Community Edition releases were assigned letters. For example, the last release in the 5.0 line was 5.0.d. Historically, Alfresco would give no clues as to whether or not they considered that a stable or final release. Subsequently, people would just grab the latest release and install it, which led to all sorts of problems. (See “Alfresco Community Edition needs sensible version labels“).

Now, thankfully, Community Edition releases are either Early Access (EA) releases or Generally Available (GA) releases. The EA releases are essentially snapshot releases that are stable enough for the community to try out and provide feedback on. The GA releases are stable builds. If you are running Community Edition in production, you should be running GA releases, not EA releases.

So the release we are talking about is “201602-GA” which means it was released in February of 2016 and it is GA. I don’t know what they are going to do if they have two GA releases in the same month, but I guess we’ll deal with that if it happens. Given that GA releases do undergo testing by Alfresco QA, which can take some time, two releases within the same month may be unlikely.

Alfresco is actually a collection of components. Community Edition 201602GA contains Alfresco Platform 5.1.e, Alfresco Share 5.1.e, Aikau 1.0.39.5, AOS 1.1, and Google Docs 3.0.3. Notice that Aikau, the client-side UI framework Share is built on, is included in that list as a separate component. The UI framework has been de-coupled from the rest of the platform–it now follows its own release cycle.

I consider this an awesome new “feature”, but let’s talk about real functionality actually in 5.1 Community Edition.

Content Modeling UI

If you’ve used other document management solutions and are new to Alfresco you may be surprised to realize that before this release, all content modeling had to be done by manually editing XML files. I know, I know, but the ability to define a content model in the Share UI is here now, so let’s be thankful.

Here’s how it works. If you are in the ALFRESCO_MODEL_ADMINISTRATORS group you’ll get access to a new admin panel called “Model Manager”. Creating custom types and aspects is a simple matter of point-and-click.

model-manager-scmodelBeyond just defining the model, though, the UI also allows you to define the Share form configuration.

model-manager-layout-editorIt’s pretty cool, although there are limitations:

  • Not everything supported by the underlying repository is supported by the content modeling UI. For example, I could not set mandatory aspects on a type and I could not define associations.
  • You can declare that properties must adhere to a constraint, but you can’t define the constraint once and reuse it across multiple properties.
  • I created the content model from my Custom Content Types tutorial but ran into a little problem. You can only inherit from types in an active model. I have an enterprise-wide type called “sc:doc” that my other types inherit from. The workaround is to create your enterprise-wide type first, then activate the model, then create your child types. Or you can put the enterprise-wide type in its own separate model.
  • I could not create items that inherited from sys:base or cmis:item (for content-less objects).
  • The advanced search form does not get configured to include custom types and aspects defined using the modeling UI.

The ability to define a content model without editing XML is a much-needed feature and I’m sure it will continue to evolve. It is extremely useful in its current form despite the limitations I’ve outlined above, which you can work around by using traditional techniques for defining the content model and Share form configuration.

Smart Folders

How many times have you wanted a folder to consist of query results rather than what’s physically in the file? The new Smart Folders feature gives you that capability. Unfortunately, it’s a little tedious to set up–it involves manually editing a JSON file to define your virtual folder structure. But, once you do that, it opens up a lot of possibilities.

If you aren’t sure why you’d want to define a folder as the results of a query, think about how you like to organize your files versus how other teams or departments like to organize theirs. Often, folder structures are optimized based on the work being performed. When different people with different roles work on the same content, it can become hard to create a folder structure that meets the needs of all constituents. Smart Folders allow you to set up alternative folder structures based on arbitrary criteria.

Imagine a college that facilitates internship assignments on behalf of their students. The best way to organize internship applications submitted by students depends on the person’s role. A student wants to see their own application. A counselor might want to see all of the applications for the students assigned to them. An employer wants to see the applications submitted to their company. And the internships coordinator wants to see applications by status. Prior to Smart Folders there’s not a great way to make all of these constituents happy.

In addition to creating search-defined folder structures, Smart Folders provides the ability to assign document types, aspects, and metadata values to documents automatically as they are added to the repository. For example, if you are a paralegal adding deposition transcripts to a case you no longer have to assign the cause number, client’s last name, and the fact that it’s a deposition. That gets assigned automatically based on where you uploaded the document.

To get a better feel for this, check out the Smart Folders documentation and tutorial. Alfresco has done a great job with it.

One last thing on Smart Folders–you may be wondering if a Smart Folder is accessible via CMIS. The answer is yes. Smart Folders are “normal” folder objects with an extra aspect applied (“smf:smart”). This has the potential to simplify CMIS code. Instead of putting the query in the code, you can define it in the folder template and in CMIS, just get the folder’s children which will be the query results.

Default landing page

This is another frequently-requested feature: The ability for a user to define which page should be displayed upon logging in to Alfresco Share. Now it’s easy. Just navigate to the page you want to use as the default, click your user name, then click “Use Current Page” to set.

specify-user-home-page

The next time you log in you’ll go to that page.

Become Owner UI action

Sometimes you have cases where you’d like to take over ownership of a document. One example is someone who has collaborator access. Collaborators can edit and delete documents they create because creators are owners. But maybe at some point you’d like them to be able to comment on documents in a folder but you don’t want them to edit documents even if they are the ones who uploaded them. One way to fix that is to have another user, such as a Coordinator, take over ownership of the document. This has always been possible, but before 5.1 you had to write your own script or UI action to make it happen. Now the UI action is available out-of-the-box.

AOS (Alfresco Office Services)

Alfresco Office Services is the new name for the re-implementation of the Microsoft SharePoint Protocol, which allows Microsoft Office products to enjoy native integration with the repository. If you have to use Microsoft’s office products at least you’ll be able to edit and save them directly to Alfresco.

While this is essentially the same functionality as the old SharePoint Protocol support, it does represent a significant change in Alfresco’s open source stance. Until now, all Alfresco Community Edition code has been 100% open source. Alfresco has chosen to include AOS with Community Edition, which is great, but it is distributed under a proprietary license. If that is a problem for you, the module is optional. You can still use the old open source implementation of the SharePoint Protocol, but it won’t be developed further by Alfresco. It sounds like they’ll spin it off as a separate open source project in case anyone is interested in maintaining it going forward.

jBPM has been jettisoned

Alfresco’s original embedded workflow engine was JBoss jBPM. Then, Activiti came along, and you could use either one. Eventually jBPM was marked as deprecated. With 5.1, jBPM has finally been removed from the release. Honestly, this should not be a surprise at all–you’ve had plenty of time to get your custom workflows moved over to Activiti.

SDK release lagged

I’m excited about the new release naming nomenclature and the new features. But one thing that is a little annoying is that the SDK that works with 5.1 lagged behind the release of the platform. So if you’ve got customizations that leverage the Alfresco Maven SDK, you couldn’t easily port those over in time for the release–you had to wait for the SDK. I haven’t heard whether or not this was a one-time occurrence or if this will always be the case.

Share Site type is gone

I’m not sure why it was removed or if it is coming back, but the “site type” dropdown has been removed from the “Create Site” dialog. Maybe Alfresco thought this feature wasn’t used much. If you’re using my Share Site Space Templates add-on, this will affect you because you won’t be able to specify a custom site preset that maps to your Share Site folder template. I haven’t looked at the source yet–it might not be a big deal to re-enable this.

missing-site-type-dropdownUPDATE: The Share Site type dropdown is not gone. It shows up when there is more than one type of site defined. This is a nice new feature in 5.1 because previously the dropdown would show up even if there was only a single choice.

That’s what’s new with Alfresco 5.1 Community Edition. Download it and try it out for yourself. If I’ve missed anything be sure to let me know in the comments.

And if you’d like to see any of these features live, check out my screencast:

(If the video doesn’t show up for you, here is the link).

Register now for BeeCon, the Alfresco Community Conference

Order of the BeeRegistration for BeeCon 2016 is now open. What the heck is BeeCon? BeeCon is the first-ever, independently-organized conference focused entirely on Alfresco. The BeeCon web site says it best:

Alfresco professionals and enthusiasts come to BeeCon to sharpen their technical skills and collaborate with other experts…Whether you are a developer, information professional, student, or Alfresco employee, BeeCon is the place to dive deep into Alfresco and develop the relationships which you will need to be successful in the coming year.

The conference is organized by the Order of the Bee, an independent community focused on Alfresco.

Who Will Attend?

BeeCon is an event organized by and targeted towards the Alfresco community. It is built around the idea that what makes our community great is its open, collaborative spirit. And that, from time-to-time, it is important to meet face-to-face to learn from each other, hash out ideas, strengthen personal relationships, and just have fun.

If Alfresco is just a piece of software to you, then this is a conference with a lot of technical how-to’s that will help you get your project done, and you should come for that reason. When you arrive, though, you’re going to find out that a lot of people have crossed oceans and continents to be in Brussels because not only is the software important, but because, as a community, we have a lot of work to do. And the people who care about the Alfresco community are using this event to get organized and to map the way forward.

If you love sales pitches and marketing fluff you should sit this one out. But if you…

  • want to learn more about the technical details from experts;
  • are already running Alfresco in your organization, whether that’s Enterprise or Community Edition; or
  • want to help shape the future of the community and the platform

…then you need to attend BeeCon 2016.

More than a Meetup

This is more than a meetup. It’s a real two-day conference with keynotes, tracks, and a hack-a-thon. The goal is to make it similar to past events like DevCon with really great content and outstanding people, but without the big budget (or price tag).

You can register now for about 60 Euros. If you wait the price goes up to about 90 Euros.

Support from Alfresco and Other Sponsors

The BeeCon team has focused on keeping things practical and inexpensive. But events like this simply cannot succeed without help from sponsors. This year, CIRB-CIBG is providing the venue, A/V equipment, and WiFi, which is amazing because those three items are the biggest in terms of cost for any event. What’s even more amazing is that we enjoy additional support from a number of sponsors including Alfresco, Contezza, ITD Systems, keensoft, VDEL, and Xenit. You should thank these folks when you see them.

Stay Tuned for the Detailed Agenda

The program team received a number of speaking submissions from Alfresco engineers and community members from all over the world. They are busy reviewing those and will get the conference web site updated as things solidify. The team is picky–they want sessions to be high quality and packed with information you can use on your Alfresco projects right away. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished agenda, but I’m not going to wait to register.

Space is Limited, Do Not Wait to Register!

While you’re thinking about it, complete your registration. It’s only 60 Euros. I’ll bet you can slip that into an expense report without much fuss. And when you bring the things you learn back to the office, you’ll win respect and adoration from your boss and coworkers. Not bad for 60 Euros.

When making your travel plans for Brussels, remember that we’ll be getting together Wednesday night, April 27, for a welcome reception. The conference runs two days, April 28-29. Then, whomever is interested can come with us to the medieval city of Bruges on Saturday, April 30, for a day of sightseeing. I’ve been to Bruges–it’s gorgeous. You won’t want to miss it. Plus, it will be nice to hang out with your favorite community members, Belgian-style.

I look forward to seeing you in Brussels in April!

Alfresco cancels Summit, asks community to organize its own conference

summit-community-editionEarlier this week, in a post to a public mailing list, Ole Hejlskov, Developer Evangelist at Alfresco, announced that the company will not be putting on its annual conference, Alfresco Summit, this year as originally planned. Instead, the company is focusing on smaller, shorter, sales-oriented events which have been very successful in several cities around the globe.

Ole said that Alfresco will be adding developer content to its Alfresco Day events, which have historically been mostly end-user and decision-maker focused. In contrast, Alfresco’s yearly events started out as developer-focused conferences, but in recent years had a more balanced agenda with both technical and non-technical tracks.

Alfresco had announced earlier in the year that their annual conference would be in New Orleans in November. In each of the last five years the company put on two conferences–one in Europe and the other in United States. For 2015 the plan was to have a single conference only in the U.S. which drew criticism from the community that skews heavily toward a non-U.S. demographic.

When the community realized Alfresco Summit 2015 would be held only in the U.S., an independent community organization called The Order of the Bee began making plans to hold their own conference in Europe. Alfresco says it will support the community’s efforts to hold its own event and wants to explore “…ways in which participation from Alfresco corporate makes sense”.

I understand where Alfresco is coming from. Annual conferences are expensive in both real dollars and the time and attention it takes to plan and execute. When you multiply that times two it obviously represents an even bigger investment.

You also have to look at what Alfresco gets out of the conference. Alfresco is increasingly sales-focused. The conference has historically been focused on knowledge-sharing and camaraderie. Yes, there were deals closed at Alfresco Summit but it was not geared towards selling. It was more about coming together to share stories, good and bad.

The Alfresco Day events are unabashedly sales and marketing. The attendees (and they get very large turnouts) know this which means Alfresco does not have to apologize for coming off too sales-y. Multiple cities with hundreds of prospects is a better investment for them than two cities with 1400 attendees who are existing customers and community members.

As the guy who led DevCon and Alfresco Summit and together with my team grew it year after year, it is weird to see Alfresco cancel the conference for 2015. I was looking forward to attending.

As a member of The Order of the Bee, I’m intrigued by the challenge of using an all-volunteer organization to potentially put together a replacement conference of some sort. If you have any interest in helping and you did not see my email to the mailing list, we’ll probably be meeting next week to get organized. Reach out to me and I’ll add you to the invitation.

The plain truth about Alfresco’s open source ethos

There was a small flare-up on the Order of the Bee list this week. It started when someone suggested that the Community Edition (CE) versus Enterprise Edition comparison page on alfresco.com put CE in a negative light. In full disclosure, I collaborated with Marketing on that page when I worked for Alfresco. My goal at the time was to make sure that the comparison was fair and that it didn’t disparage Community Edition. I think it still passes that test and is similar to the comparison pages of other commercial open source companies.

My response to the original post to the list was that people shouldn’t bother trying to get the page changed. Why? Because how Alfresco Software, Inc. chooses to market their software is out-of-scope for the community. As long as the commercial company behind Alfresco doesn’t say anything untrue about Community Edition, the community shouldn’t care.

The fact that there is a commercial company behind Alfresco, that they are in the business of selling Enterprise support subscriptions, and at the same time have a vested interest in promoting the use of Community Edition to certain market segments is something you have to get your head around.

Actually there are a handful of things that you really need to understand and accept so you can be a happy member of the community. Here they are:

1. CE is distributed under LGPLv3 so it is open source.

If you need to put a label on it and you are a binary type of person, this is at the top of the list. Alfresco is “open source” because it is distributed under an OSI-approved license. A more fine-grained description is that it is “open core” because the same software is distributed under two different licenses, with the enterprise version being based on the free version and including features not available in the free version.

2. Committers will only ever be employees.

There have been various efforts over the years to get the community more involved in making direct code contributions. The most recent is that Aikau is on github and accepting pull requests. Maybe some day the core repository will be donated to Apache or some other foundation. Until then, if you want to commit directly to core, send a resume to Alfresco Software, Inc. I know they are hiring talented engineers.

3. Alfresco Software, Inc. is a commercial, for-profit business.

Already mentioned, but worth repeating: The company behind the software earns revenue from support subscriptions, and, increasingly, value-added features not available in the open source distribution. The company is going to do everything it can to maximize revenue. The community needs this to be the case because a portion of those resources support the community product. The company needs the community, so it won’t do anything to aggressively undermine adoption of the free product. You have to believe this to be true. A certain amount of trust is required for a symbiotic relationship to work.

4. “Open source” is not a guiding principle for the company.

Individuals within the company are ardent open source advocates and passionate and valued community members, but the organization as a whole does not use “open source” as a fundamental guiding principle. This should not be surprising when you consider that:

  1. “Drive Open Innovation” not “Open Source” is a core value to the company as publicly expressed on the Our Values page.
  2. The leadership team has no open source experience (except John Newton and PHH whose open source experience is Alfresco and Activiti).
  3. The community team doesn’t exist any more–the company has shifted to a “developer engagement” strategy rather than having a dedicated community leadership or advocacy team.

Accept the fact that this is a software company like any other, that distributes some of its software under an open source license and employs many talented people who spend a lot of their time (on- and off-hours) to further the efforts of the community. It is not a “everything-we-do-we-do-because-open-source” kind of company. It just isn’t.

5. Alfresco originally released under an open source license primarily as a go-to-market strategy

In the early days, open source was attractive to the company not because it wanted help building the software, but because the license undermined the position of proprietary vendors and because they hoped to gain market share quickly by leveraging the viral nature of freely-distributable software. Being open was an attractive (and highly marketable) contrast to the extremely closed and proprietary nature of legacy ECM vendors such as EMC and Microsoft.

I think John and Paul also hoped that the open and transparent nature of open source would lend itself to developer adoption, third-party integrations and add-ons, and a partner ecosystem, which it did.

I think it is this last one–the mismatch between the original motivations to release as open source and what we as a community expect from an open source project–that causes angst. The “open source” moniker attracts people who wish the project was more like an organic open source project than it can or ever will be.

For me, personally, I accepted these as givens a long time ago–none of them bother me any more. I am taking this gift that we’ve been given–a highly-functional, freely-distributable ECM platform–and I’m using it to help people. I’m no longer interested in holding the company to a dogmatic standard they never intended to be held to.

So be cool and do your thing

The “commercial” part of “commercial open source” creates a tension that is felt both internally and externally. Internal tension happens when decisions have to be made for the benefit of one side at the expense of the other. External tension happens when the community feels like the company isn’t always acting in their best interest and lacks the context or visibility needed to believe otherwise.

This tension is a natural by-product of the commercial open source model. It will always be there. Let’s acknowledge it, but I see no reason to antagonize it.

If you want to help the community around Alfresco, participate. Build something. Install the software and help others get it up and running. Join the Order of the Bee. If you want to help Alfresco with its marketing, send them your resume.

Richard Esplin steps down as Head of Alfresco Community Relations

Things continue to be in flux at Alfresco with regards to how they manage their community. Today, Richard Esplin announced that he is stepping down as Head of Alfresco Community Relations to become a Product Manager for Alfresco Community Edition. In his blog post, Richard says that although his title changed a while back, his day-to-day job has still been mostly focused on the community, until now.

It sounds like rather than having a centralized team focused on managing the community, the various community touch points will be diffused throughout the organization.

Last month, Alfresco hired long-time community member, author, and former Ixxus employee, Martin Bergljung. I know through the grapevine there are more community hires on the way. These seem to be focused on “developer outreach” and “developer ecosystem” which is one aspect of community management.

I hope the “community is everyone’s job” approach does not lead to a “community is no one’s job” problem at Alfresco.

Related to Community Edition, Richard said, “I will be rethinking our approach to Alfresco Community Edition in order to make it a better product for its target audience”. My worry here is that there hasn’t always been agreement on what is the “target audience” for Alfresco Community Edition. In the past, Alfresco Software, Inc. has wanted the target audience to be developers who experiment and test out code that will ultimately become Enterprise Edition. The reality has been that many people want to run Community Edition in production–they want a high quality, free/libre open source software product that helps them solve document management problems.

Hopefully, Richard and the rest of the Alfresco team are aligned to the new reality of how Community Edition is being used.

It will definitely be interesting to see how these staffing shifts work out for the community.

Alfresco Community Edition needs sensible version labels

See if you can answer this question: What is the current stable release of Alfresco Community Edition?

Some of you probably blurted out “5.0”. But that’s not specific enough. Alfresco Community Edition releases have letters as part of the release name. Did I hear someone say “5.0.c”? That is certainly the latest version but is that the current stable release? I would argue that it’s not and that the correct answer to the question is actually “4.2.f”. That’s the newest version I would recommend to anyone wanting to run Community Edition in production.

The problem is that you can’t actually tell what is supposed to be the stable release by looking at the version labels like you can with virtually every other open source software project. Hindsight is actually the only tool we have. The reason 4.2.f is the latest stable release is because it was the last release in the 4.2 Community Edition code line. We won’t know which 5.0 release is the stable one until Alfresco stops creating 5.0 releases!

Really, 5.0.a, 5.0.b, and 5.0.c should be labeled 5.0-RC1, 5.0-RC2, and 5.0-RC3. I’m using RC for “Release Candidate” here because that’s basically what they are, but “snapshot” or “milestone” could also work. We just need something that indicates that, eventually, we’re going to see an end to the iterations and finally arrive on a stable release and that you should really wait to deploy to production until that stable release comes out.

If you look at 4.2, I think 4.2.e was the “final” release and then 4.2.f was a special release to address a serious security vulnerability. So 4.2, a, b, c, and d should have been “release candidates”, 4.2.e should have just been 4.2.0, and 4.2.f should have been 4.2.1. I wouldn’t expect the third digit, which normally signifies a “service pack” to be anything other than 0 for the vast majority of Community Edition releases. The 4.2.f release was an exception to the norm which is that Alfresco doesn’t provide service packs for CE.

The reason an easily identifiable release label is important is because today people in the community are going to the Alfresco download page and assuming that what they are downloading is a stable release. They are then installing and running that release in production. This leaves those people disappointed down the road when they find out they installed software with numerous known issues or partly-implemented features (I know those issues are often documented in the release notes and in Jira). The point is that downloaders, particularly newcomers, don’t have (and shouldn’t need) the insight that Alfresco releases don’t really settle down until the fourth iteration or so. That should be explicit.

The reason Alfresco doesn’t use “stable” to describe the release is partly commercial. The thinking is that doing so makes running the freely-available Community Edition in production seem less risky or even encouraged by the company that depends on revenue from the paid edition.

The other challenge is about process. I don’t think engineering always knows that a given Community Edition release is going to be the last one until after the fact.

Both of these could be addressed with a mindset change. Instead of “Let’s iterate on release X.0 until we’re ready to work on the next major release” the thinking ought to be, “Let’s drive toward a stable, production-ready X.0 release and once we think we have it, let’s call it that”.

I’ve heard chatter that Alfresco might, at some point, consider offering support for those running CE. Based on the number of SMB’s who have told me that Alfresco One is out-of-reach for them financially, there ought to be a strong demand for a low-priced subscription around Community Edition. If that happens, I assume both the mentality and the process around CE version labels will get cleaned up. But I hope we don’t have to wait.

10 ways Alfresco customers can support the community

A prospective Alfresco customer recently asked me some of the ways an Alfresco customer can support the Alfresco community. Here’s what I said:

  1. Give your employees company time to answer questions in the forum or participate in the community in other ways. Perhaps set up an objective related to something on this list.
  2. Write a blog post about your experience with Alfresco (doesn’t have to be technical) then tweet the link with #Alfresco.
  3. Share your story at a meetup, Alfresco Summit, or some other conference.
  4. Make your office space available for local Alfresco meetups. If there isn’t a regular meetup in your area, start one and keep it going quarterly.
  5. If you customize Alfresco, take the customizations that don’t represent a competitive advantage to your business and contribute them to the community as freely-available addons. If you don’t want to take the time to package it up as a formal add-on, at least stick your code on github or a similar public code repository.
  6. Similar to the above, if you hire systems integrators, word your contracts such that they can contribute the code they write for you to the community. (Often the default language assigns IP ownership to the hiring party).
  7. If you choose Community Edition, give your time to the Order of the Bee so that you can help others be successful running Community Edition in production. The Order is particularly interested in Community Edition success stories at the moment.
  8. File helpful bug reports and make sure they are free of information specific to your business so that Alfresco will keep them public.
  9. If you not only find a bug but fix it, contribute the patch. One way to do that is to create a pull request on GitHub in the Alfresco Community Edition project then reference that pull request in an Alfresco Jira.
  10. If you see something wrong or missing on the wiki, log in and fix it.

Really, this list is mostly applicable to anyone that wants to participate in the community, not just customers. What did I leave out? Add more ideas in the comments.

Independent Alfresco community forms to guarantee freely-available open source ECM forever

Something very interesting is afoot in the Alfresco community. A subset of the community has formed an independent organization called The Order of the Bee, aimed at making sure the freely-available open source platform for Enterprise Content Management stays freely-available, forever.

The group of individuals, who hail from all parts of the globe, are customers, partners, independent individuals, and even Alfresco Software employees. Despite varied backgrounds and interests, they all have at least one thing in common: They want to make sure that Alfresco Community Edition stays free and open.

Alfresco has always provided what is essentially an “open core” distribution. The on-premises software ships in two editions: Community Edition is the freely-available software licensed under the LGPLv3 and Enterprise Edition is commercially licensed. But lately there has been growing concern amongst community members that Alfresco Software, the commercial company behind the product, doesn’t always have the best interests of the community in mind. Thus was born The Order of the Bee, a reference to the community keynote I delivered at Alfresco Summit 2013.

The Order began forming about the same time I stepped down as Alfresco’s Chief Community Officer. While the timing is uncanny, and I am a founding member of the Order, that timing was not planned and is coincidental.

Check out the web site to see what the Order is all about. If you feel compelled to participate, be sure to submit the contact form. And follow the group on Twitter.

Five new features in Alfresco 5.0 in about five minutes

Hopefully you saw that Alfresco 5.0.a Community Edition was released last week. Kevin Roast did a nice write-up on a few of the new features. I created a screencast based on his write-up. It is embedded below or use this link.

You might want to make the video full-screen and take the settings up to HD.

If you take a peek under the covers you’ll likely see that there are still some deprecated chunks of code hanging around, libraries that still need to be upgraded, and features you might have expected but that aren’t yet implemented. This is still an early release. You should expect several more named releases before Community Edition 5.0 stabilizes.

Use this release as a preview for what’s coming, to test your own add-ons, or to help find and report issues. If you are running Community Edition in production I’d stick with 4.2.f for now.

I’m leaving Alfresco, remaining part of the community

After much contemplation about what’s best for the Alfresco community, the company, and my own happiness, I’ve decided to leave the company. My last day as Chief Community Officer will be Friday, June 6.

With all of the changes the company has seen over the last year or so I know there are some who will suspect that something nefarious is underfoot. I want to be really clear about this: It was my decision to leave, I’m excited about this change, and I hope you’ll be excited for me too.

If it’s all good, why leave?

Ultimately,  I’m leaving because I miss delivering content-centric solutions to clients. When I took the position three years ago, I thought that the part of my role that requires me to help flatten the learning curve for people would satisfy my creative and technical itch. It did partially, but it wasn’t enough.

Of course, there have been changes I haven’t always agreed with–until you are your own boss that will always be true. But the primary reason I’m leaving is because I need to be building stuff again.

What does this mean for the Alfresco Community?

The company remains committed to the Alfresco community and there are no major changes planned that I am aware of. I know whomever takes over my responsibilities will continue with the important work as beekeeper.

I intend to continue making contributions to the community just as I did before I joined the company. In fact, having me back in the field means more real world implementations to draw on that I can write about, speak about, and share with others.

My personal mission to take down legacy ECM with open source hasn’t changed. I think many of you are aligned with me on that mission, and this move allows us to continue the fight side-by-side.

What does this mean for Alfresco Summit?

I’m proud of what I was able to accomplish with the annual DevCon/Alfresco Summit conference. It was fun growing that so much year-over-year while maintaining the integrity and feel of the event. But I’m no event planner. And the bigger it grew the more time it required. Last year we actually made the decision to take if off my hands. I’ve been helping with programming content for Alfresco Summit 2014 but 2013 was the last one I was primarily responsible for, which makes the transition pretty seamless. (This year’s conference promises to be better than ever, and you should totally sign up if you haven’t done that yet).

What’s next?

For these next two weeks, I’m completely focused on getting everything transitioned smoothly. I’ll share more about what’s next for me after June 6, but I’m sure it will be surprising to absolutely no one.

Until then, please know that I have truly enjoyed my time serving as the leader of this wonderful community. I know there is work left to do but, man, we got so much done!

Perhaps more importantly, I have established what I hope will be life-long friendships, both in the community and inside the company, with people all over the world. The best thing about this change is that I know those will continue, regardless.