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 '' that you can copy from your TOMCAT_HOME/webapps/alfresco/WEB-INF/classes directory (named '') to TOMCAT_HOME/shared/classes directory, renamed to ''. I noted that this did NOT go into an 'alfresco/extensions' subdirectory as in the past with ''.

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

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.

1 comment:

LouiSe said...

Thanks for this useful info!

Do you have an idea to extend Site creation procedure in Share with predefined folder-structure in documentLibrary?

Just like Create folder from Space Template, but in automatic way...