Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Looking at Alfresco Share 3.2 Community - Part 2 - Edit Custom Metadata

This series of blog entries is intended to walk through the new features of Alfresco Share 3.2 Labs. In the previous blog entry, I built the community version from source, and looked at the new Admin Console feature. This blog, I will look at how Share exposes Custom metadata, and allows users to assign aspects to uploaded content.

Viewing and Editing Custom Metadata
I have Alfresco 3.2 Labs running on my Windows XP Laptop, built from source updated June 23, 2009, and I have deployed both Alfrsco.war and share.war to an instance of Tomcat 6.
In previous versions of Share, it wasn't possible to view or edit custom metadata. Share 3.2 Labs addresses this deficit. Further, it leverages Surf's new forms architecture to render the metadata form dynamically. We will look at this in detail later. First, I will walk through the user interface for metadata.

In order to show Share's ability to view custom metadata, we need to create a new Site and Upload some content. Here are the steps briefly:
  1. Log into Share (as admin/admin) --> The User Dashboard renders with the 'My Sites' dashlet.
  2. Click on 'Create Site' in the My Sites dashlet (or select 'create site' from the 'Sites' drop down in the top menu) --> The Create Site popup will render.
  3. Enter the Name, URL name, and Description (optional) of this new site. (In my example I created a site with Name=Merchandising, URL name=Merchandising).
  4. Press 'Ok' when complete and the new site will be created, returning you to the user dashboard.
  5. Select the new site from the 'My Sites' dashlet, or the top menu's Sites dropdown --> the Site dashboard will render.
  6. Navigate to the 'Document Library' page to upload new content --> the Document Library page renders.
  7. Click on 'Upload' button to upload some content to the default documents folder.
Now that we have content, we should be able to view the metadata.

Here I am looking at Document Library in the merchandising site, where have uploaded an XML file and a couple of image files...

Hovering over one of the files in the list renders the actions that can be performed on that file.
Actions include:
  • Download
  • Edit Metadata
  • Upload new Version
  • More > (we will look at some of these later)

This list of actions is very configurable. We may show how to do this in a later blog.
The 'Edit Metadata' action is what we want. Select the 'Edit Metadata' action for the uploaded document.

Here I selected edit metadata for an XML ddocument named 'Article.EnableCookies.xml'...

This looks pretty normal. It is the same popup as with previous version of Share allowing edit of basic metadata properties like Name, Title, Description and tags. But notice in the Upper right corner 'Full metadata Edit page...'. Selecting this will render a full screen rendering all of the document's metadata.

Here I am showing the full metadata page of the xml file I uploaded...

In this example, two new fields are rendered: the Mimetype, and the Author.

This full page renders the metadata form in 'Edit' mode using the new forms engine. The form is rendered by obtaining a form configuration from the remote alfresco repository. This form configuration is dynamically generated from the available metadata on the content item being viewed. The form archtiecture is capable of rendering the following types of controls (see more detail in the forms service wiki:
  • mimetype -- <select> <option> from a list of mime types (i.e. application/pdf, ...)
  • size -- display file size
  • textarea -- <textarea> field configurable to r rows and c columns
  • slectone -- <select> field with <option> tags dynamically rendered
  • textfiled -- <input type="text"> field
  • category -- picker selecting one or more categories to associate with the content
  • endocding -- <select> field to choose <option> from list of encoding types (i.e. UTF-8, ISO-8859-1, ...)
  • association -- picker selecting one or more other content items to associate this content item too
  • checkbox -- <input type="checkbox"> field
  • readonly -- <input type="text"> rendered as read only
  • date -- renders a date picker setting value to an <input type="text"> field
  • period -- selecting x days, weeks, etc.
Associating Aspects

To really show the custom metadata feature, we will look at another great feature added to Share 3.2, the ability to associate new aspects to documents. When we associate a new aspect, new properties can be added to the document and the edit metadata full form should reflect those changes. To do this, let us add the 'dublin core' aspect to the document we just looked at.
  1. Hover over the document --> the actions should render
  2. Select the 'more' option --> the more options should render
  3. Select the 'manage aspects' option --> the manage aspects popup will render
  4. Select the '+' by the 'Dublin Core' aspect in the 'Available to Add' list --> The 'Dublin core' should be removed from the 'Available to Add' and added to the 'Currently Selected' list
  5. Select the 'Apply changes' button to save the changes
Now we can look at the edit metadata again and see the new metadata properties added via the Dublin Core aspect

Here we see the edit metadata full page with the dublin core properties

The next blog entry will look at customizing share to display our own content types and aspects.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Looking at Alfresco Share 3.2 Community

Building Alfresco Labs 3.2 from Community

This blog and others to follow will walk through the new features of Alfresco Share 3.2 Labs. First, I will walk through some of the key features. Then I will open up the box and look in side at a few choice features. Finally, I will show examples of the extensibility of this new version of Share.

Building from source was fairly straight forward. I use Tortoise SVN as my svn client (on my Windows XP laptop). I 'updated' to the latest code (as of 23 June 09). I used ant to build, with my environment setup as recommended in the Alfresco SVN Development environment wiki.

When attempting to deploy to tomcat using 'ant build-tomcat' and 'ant incremental-tomcat', the ant task complained that I needed to use tomcat 6. I downloaded Apache tomcat 6.0.20. I noticed that tomcat 6 doesn't create a 'shared' folder by default, which is used by alfresco for extension. But I found a wiki page for configuring tomcat 6 that explains how to configure tomcat 6 for this purpose.

Because I have multiple versions of alfresco on this machine, I didn't want to sacrifice the default db (mysql database named alfresco). I had problems with configuring other db vendor, however. I followed the configuring db wiki page for 3.2 and tried boty Derby and HSQL as alternatives. However, various problems occurred. HSQL and Derby didn't seem to have corrected hibernate mappings and/or sql build scripts. So I chose to create another db instance on mysql named alfresco2. I'm sure with a little more patience, I would have succeeded. But I'm impatient.

In order to configure to this new db (and as described on the database configuration wiki page), I found that there is now a file 'alfresco-global.properties' that you can copy from your TOMCAT_HOME/webapps/alfresco/WEB-INF/classes directory (named 'alfresco-global.properties.sample') to TOMCAT_HOME/shared/classes directory, renamed to 'alfresc-global.properties'. I noted that this did NOT go into an 'alfresco/extensions' subdirectory as in the past with 'custom-repository.properties'.

Starting up tomcat on my windows xp with the default configurations caused a problem with out of heap space and, later PermGen. I changed the startup parameters to add more heap and PermGen (-Xms256M -Xmx512M -XX:MaxPermSize=256m) and finally I was in business.

First Impressions of Share 3.2

After logging in to share (i.e. http://localhost:8080/share) with the default user account admin/admin, the admin user dashboard is rendered first. Nothing new here. However in the header, right justified I saw a 'Admin Console' button. Clicking it, I see you can now create new users and groups from Share directly!

Here I logged in as admin/admin...

Admin Console

It seems there is a new role for Share users, that of 'Manager'. This role is described in the forums. The 'Manager' role has permisions to expose the new 'admin console.'

The Admin Console is accesssed by clicking the 'Admin Console' button on the top menu. This console is configured with an extensible list of console 'tools'. The console opens up showing the first tool: Groups.

Groups Tool

Here, I clicked on the 'Admin Console' button...

The 'Groups' tool allows a user to drill down through the hierarchy of groups, and create new groups, edit them and remove them. To represent the hierarchy, the user interface represents levels of groups by showing child groups in a new list panel created to the right of the group list panel with the selected group. The successive levels of group lists all have similar functionality (recursively rendered) to add, edit and remove groups and their children. This UI approach is a bit odd, but effective.

Clicking 'new group' opens the 'Create Group' form, prompting the user to enter the required fields for: Identifier and Display name. Once entered, the buttons 'Create Group', 'Create and Create Another' are enabled. The 'Create Group' creates a group with the given Identifier and Display name, and returns back to the 'Groups' tool main page. The 'Create and Create Another' creates a group as the 'Create Group' button but clears the form to enter another group. The labels of these buttons might be a bit confusing at first.

Here I clicked the 'New group' button ...

I tried creating a new group and the group called 'testg', but it wasn't added to the list immediately. Reopening the admin console later, I saw the group I created listed correctly (see https://issues.alfresco.com/jira/browse/ALFCOM-3110).

In the Groups tool of the Admin Console, hovering over an item indicates other actions that can be performed on that item, including 'edit' and 'delete'.

Users tool

The users tool of the 'Admin Console' allows the manager to create new users and edit users. The search box requires at least one character entered before search works. (Perhaps adding a note on this screen or disabling/enabling the 'search' button might help.) This search text seems to be a partial match to find anything with the text entered 'in' the user's name.

Here I typed 'a' and pressed 'Search'...

A new user can be created from the users tool main page by clicking the 'New User' button upper right, or an existing user details can be viewed, and later edited, by clicking on the user name in the list.

Here I clicked on the 'Jane Smith' name in the users list...

From the user profile view page there are two buttons: Edit User and Delete User. From the Edit User page, you can enter basic information, assign the user to groups, set a quota, change passwords and select photos.

Next blog entry -- look at edit metadata feature.