Interesting things about ECM


SharePoint 2007 Workflow (WWF) VS OpenText Livelink Workflow

Filed under: Open Text, Sharepoint — Anthony Fast @ 7:43 am


SharePoint 2007 Workflow (Visual Studio 2008) Livelink  Workflow (Livelink Server 9.7)
Workflow Platform Type Framework Engine
Electronic Forms Support Yes (InfoPath) Yes (LL Forms Module)
Interoperability with Desktop Applications Yes (Microsoft Office Suite Only) No
Interoperability with Email Yes Yes
Integration with Line of Business Applications Yes No (Actually maybe with some insanely complicated level of integration)
Electronic Signatures Yes (WRMS, a bit complicated) Yes (eSign)
Supports Attachments Yes Yes
Expression builder (WF Logic) Yes Yes
Dynamically assigning WF steps to Users With customisation Yes
Easy MIS Needs to be built Yes (OOB)
Logging Needs to be created in WF Yes (OOB)
Interoperability with custom services and web services Yes No
Development Required Yes No (except for customisation)
Development Language .NET OScript

First of all, it was only since Visual Studio 2008 came out that I decided to start comparing elements of SharePoint 2007 such as Workflow and Business Process Management to other leading Enterprise Content Management systems. Before that exercise would be pointless.

Livelink in this game comes as a seasoned veteran and SharePoint 2007 and WWF are playing the catch-up game here, so I’ll focus more on how much WWF caught up so far.

Windows Workflow Foundation’s (in SharePoint context) biggest weakness is in fact that it’s a framework that requires skilled developers to design workflows where other workflow solution are in a form of an engine, with very easy, user friendly design studio that can easily be mastered by less skilled people (basically non-developers).

That, being a weakness, in fact is also the biggest strength of WWF, as in my personal career, the percentage of clients that were happy with OOB (out of the box) workflow (such as Livelink) functionality is less than 30%.

On the other side customisation in WWF now is almost flawless, it provides variety of highly functional Workflow steps that make use of the latest technology available for .NET, and is provided in known strongly supported languages (such as C#). Whereas in Livelink for example, the whole solution is written in a proprietary language called OScript (written especially for Livelink) which is object orientated (mostly similar to C, has elements like assocs and stuff) with a very good object model but also very outdated making the customisation less then easy (in today’s terms), and since it is proprietary the skills are very scarce (there’s only very few of us in the country that are good with it) making it not very profitable for the clients and service providers.

Also, to add a custom step to Livelink workflow requires creating whole module, installing it and in some cases having to even re-do the existing workflow (if it existed before), they don’t have the code activity type steps (although other WF engines like K2.NET and FYI have it).

Windows Workflow Foundation for MOSS2007 also wins “BIG TIME” with InfoPath 2007 and Forms server with SharePoint 2007 against Livelink Forms. Being able to add various controls from the InfoPath UI to your SharePoint 2007 Electronic forms is a good start, and then controls such as: Repeating Sections, Repeating Tables, Optional Sections, leave Livelink Forms far behind.

Livelink still leads with the tight integration of workflow with rest of the Livelink suite, consisting of much more refined products to better provide various Enterprise Content Management Solutions.

All in all the race has become tight and I see MS SharePoint 2007 Workflow solution leading in near future if the OpenText Livelink crowd doesn’t realise how important it is to keep your solution on the latest Development Platform.

The talk has been for some time that version 10 of Livelink will be completely re-written in Java, we’re yet to see if that will increase the stakes in the game (if it comes any time soon).

SharePoint 2007 Workflow (Business Process Management) Solutions are solid enough to play with the big boys now, even without the help from the mighty (yet expensive) BizTalk server.


Vignette’s VCM V8 Finally Made It

Filed under: Open Text, Vignette, WCM — Anthony Fast @ 9:25 pm
By Irina Guseva | Published Jan 20

It’s been 7 years since the last major release of Vignette Content Management (7.0). If you wondered about the fate of the promised last year VCM V8 in the light of Vignette’s (news, site) various tribulations and the Open Text acquisition, worry not. It is officially here.

Using descriptives like “ergonomic design,” “engaging web experience” and “ultra modern personalized workspaces,” Open Text and Vignette are hoping it would have a much better installed base response than VCM 7 seemed to have when it came out.

What Changed From VCM 7 to 8

The looks is one of them. As Vignette told us before they became part of OTEX, UI has undergone a major rework in this version.

GUI Changes and New Functionalities

There are two main views in VCM 8:

  1. Preview environment for page-centric, in-context management approach
  2. Work spaces for content-centric and bulk operations

vcm 8 interface.jpg

Content workspaces in VCM 8 where content is managed independently from the presentation.

vcm 8 sample site.jpg

Personalized floating menu on the right to manipulate content at the page level. Sample sites are shipped with out-of-the-box content type, workflow and presentation assets.

Users will see multiple productivity enhancements like smart lists, last used, quick actions, search and filter, shortcuts, AJAX-enabled no full page refreshes, minimization of pop-ups, etc.

In VCM V8, drag and drop is enabled in multiple places. The interface got more user-friendly action label names (e.g., save and close) and easier way of getting to most common tasks via tabs and menus, with easier access to system metadata.

vcm 8 reorder items.jpg

Re-order and add items, browse content in contextual, multidimensional workspaces by site, content type, folder, category or explorer views.

For marketers, a new concept of vanity URLs allows to explicitly add a new URL to any page for marketing campaigns and landing pages.

In-context management is one of major improvements with the ability to add new content in the preview environment and create new pages based on default layouts with default content that can be kept as is or changed.

Publishing and workflow have turned into more of a couple of clicks operations without users being exposed to multiple technical concepts.

Site Cloning and Presentation

On the presentation and site management side, more functionality like site creation and site cloning has been exposed to non-technical users allowing for shorter time to market and (after it’s all set up) not having to go to IT. The new presentation management capabilities include theme management, page by page, or template by template management.

vcm 8 changing layouts.jpg

Changing page layout from in-context view

This approach for layout management is based on default templates or preregistered CSS and XHTML.

VCM 8’s themes concept allows to keep the content the same, but change the look and feel.

New sites can be created (or existing sites can be cloned) using one of the existing implementations as a template.

vcm 8 create new site.jpg

Upgrading From VCM 7 to 8

Knowing that migrations and upgrades can be cumbersome and learning from Microsoft’s Office ribbon failure, Open Text decided to take a different approach this time. The vendor introduced a compatibility mode, where customers can run V8 in either the new or the v7 GUI, while keeping their old extensions with the old V7 look and feel.

VCM 8 compatibility mode

When installing the new product, customers can choose to upgrade to the new GUI, or completely skip it for now and introduce it at a later stage in the upgrade. Might be a bit confusing at times to see different portions of the system looking different, but makes sense for those looking to do a progressive upgrade and adapt to the new interface at their own pace, without much investment in retraining everyone.

As far as upgrade efforts go, Open Text says the most optimistic scenario is that it may take a day max to run the upgrade from backup to install to launch. Depending on the number of customizations and the level of implementation complexity, it may take months to upgrade to V8.

All is Well That Ends Well

So, despite some concern, Open Text Vignette Content Management V8 (with a video and all) is live and brings considerable improvements and welcome additions. One wonders though whether VCM V8 will be the turning point for Vignette as a long-standing, veteran product on its own, or as part of the Open Text ECM suite. Will we see magical revival, or milking of the installed base cash cow? Is it the very last release of Vignette Content Management in the days of our lives?


SAP to Resell Open Text ECM Under SAP Branding

Filed under: Open Text, SAP — Tags: , , — Anthony Fast @ 5:52 pm


What’s a pretty big deal for Open Text (newssite), is a pretty big deal for SAP (news,site) as well. The two, after much courting in the past, have signed yet another extension of the global reseller agreement. In a nutshell, SAP will now be able to resell Open Text Enterprise CMS under SAP branding.

This is the second major expansion of the original reseller agreement between SAP and OTEX. Let’s not forget that SAP is already reselling Open Text’s Document Access and Archiving and Invoice Management products.

The new, reseller-inspired name is the SAP Extended Enterprise Content Management(SAP Extended ECM) application by Open Text.

Open Text didn’t fail to mention that the industry analysts SAP has briefed find this reseller agreement expansion a “game-changing” event for the ECM market from the point of view of how ECM is sold.

So, instead of playing the add-ons game, ECM “becomes integral to how the company operates.” Both companies are guided by the principle of helping customers to “increase business value with content-enriched business processes.”

“By working closely with SAP, we are able to give customers a way to manage all their vital information in a secure… way… We are entering into a new phase in the evolution of content management technology,” said John Shackleton, president and chief executive officer of Open Text.

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