Alfresco 3.1 Enterprise is a significant release for WCM users

I don’t typically write a post every time a vendor releases a new version of software but Alfresco 3.1 Enterprise, which became available for download on Tuesday, is a significant release. Users of 2.2, who had previously been asked not to upgrade to 3.0, should now upgrade to either 2.2 SP3 or 3.1. All of the fixes in 2.2 SP3 are included in the 3.1 release. If you are currently on 2.2 SP3, the biggest reason to move to 3.1 would be to take advantage of Alfresco Share. Conservative users may decide to wait until 3.1.1.

One big change with 3.1 is that modified items are now merged with the Staging sandbox asynchronously. That means when submitting modified items, users are immediately returned to the sandbox list and will still see the modified items until they are committed. In a cursory test of this, I was surprised at how long it took for those changes to leave my Modified Items list. Maybe the polling interval is configurable.

This change affects the out-of-the-box WCM submission workflow. So if you created your own custom WCM submission workflow, you’re going to need to make some changes. The required changes are documented in the release notes, or you can take a look at the new submission workflow to get the gist.

Another new feature of Alfresco 3.1 is the REST API for WCM. A lot of URLs you probably already created on your own are included. The new API includes things like adding users to web projects, creating user sandboxes, creating, updating, and deleting assets, submitting assets, and more. Even if you already built these yourself, you should take a look to see if these meet your needs. Why continue to maintain your own custom code?

The 3.1 release also marks a shift in Alfresco’s “two flavors” approach. According to John Newton (post), Alfresco is looking for ways to entice large Enterprise users to migrate from Labs to Enterprise. So they’ve created functionality that they feel only appeals to large Enterprises and are making it available only to people paying for subscriptions. This includes things like monitoring (JMX, Hyperic plug-in), proprietary database extensions, and clustering.

Newton says 100% of the source code will still be available for both releases and that fixes made in Enterprise will be made available in the next Labs release (although he didn’t say how long Labs releases will lag behind Enterprise).

Other noteworthy 3.1 fixes or enhancements include:

  • No one (not even admin) can write to a Staging sandbox in WCM.
  • Share now includes a “Links” component (which means I don’t have to finish coding the “Bookmarks” component we started but never finished). There are numerous other Share enhancements around Calendar, rich text editing, and previewing.
  • Actions can now have AND/OR conditions and can trigger on property values.
  • A new group called ALFRESCO_ADMINISTRATORS has been created that makes it much easier to designate administrator users other than admin.

See the release notes for a full list of Jira tickets addressed by the release.