Alfresco 2.1 Enterprise is available

Looks like Alfresco 2.1 Enterprise is now available. Congrats, Alfresco. I know you’ve been very busy since the Community release of 2.1 a couple of months ago getting the Enterprise release ready.

We’ve been implementing an Alfresco WCM solution for a client on the west coast this summer based on the 2.1 code. We’ve been pleased with the new release and with Alfresco’s responsiveness to Jira issues we created as we uncovered the inevitable bugs in the beta builds.

The web content publish date/expiration date functionality and the web script framework (roll your own REST API) are probably the most significant 2.1 features leveraged in the solution.
At some point I’ll probably be able to do a case study or a podcast on what we built. Until then I will say that the solution leverages Alfresco’s document management capabilities, web content management capabilities, and a client-built, custom application loosely-coupled with the repository through REST. The strengths of each of those sub-systems is leveraged to achieve the overall set of business requirements.

This approach of letting individual parts make up the solution rather than trying to implement a monolithic WCM package that is responsible for every aspect of a web site worked very well for this particular client. Alfresco was a good fit specifically because it doesn’t try to handle both the content management and the content presentation. Instead, it focuses on being a solid repository with lots of options for integrating the repository with other systems. It is this separation from the presentation layer that really distinguishes Alfresco from other open source content management systems. The ease with which solutions can be built on top of the repository is what distinguishes it from proprietary content management systems. (That and the licensing model).
While I’m thinking about it, one side note on the web script/REST framework. I’ve seen some analysts and even John Newton mention Alfresco’s new REST-based functionality as “architecture”. I don’t want to diminish the value of the web scripts framework–it is a great way to set up an API for other apps to leverage without the heaviness of a SOAP-based service call. But to call it an “architecture” or to imply that something was fundamentally changed in how Alfresco works is a bit much. I really see it simply as an additional–albeit powerful and flexible–way to work with the repository.
It may seem like hair-splitting but when I saw an analyst (sorry, I’ve misplaced the reference) voice concern over Alfresco “moving to a new architecture” it seemed like maybe Alfresco had over-played it a bit. At the end of the day, the new REST framework is a great tool that you might choose to leverage or you might not. If Alfresco refactors some of its web client to use it, great. If other projects like Liferay decide to build integrations with Alfresco based on the REST framework, that’s a good thing too. But people shouldn’t get the impression that Alfresco has changed anything fundamental about the repository with the addition of this new framework.