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Easily Edit Content with Alfresco and the Ixxus Web Framework

Matt Dunn's picture
Matt Dunn

One of the difficulties when editing content with Alfresco is locating the document within the Alfresco web interface to begin your edit. Often, content is placed into deep, complex structures that can take time to learn and navigate. This is not only frustrating for the content editor, but wastes unnecessary time.

Introducing the Ixxus Web Framework Alfresco Content LinkBack

The Ixxus Web Framework provides a simple and effective approach to editing content with Alfresco that is suitable for a enterprise solution. The key to this is to provide a simple mechanism for the website content editor to easily locate the page they wish to edit by browsing the website (or intranet) to the page that needs to be modified and, if they are logged in as an administrator or content editor, they are presented with a toolbar of options appropriate to their current context.

In the example below, 'Edit' and 'New' options are displayed against editable content. Selecting the 'Edit' option takes the user through to the appropriate Alfresco webform where document metadata and content can be edited and previewed in the users' own sandbox.

This mechanism can be easily plugged into a new or existing website and because the document is actually edited within the content repository rather the the webpage, it makes use of powerful features built into Alfresco (depending on a WCM or DM Alfresco solution) such as workflow, versioning, metadata extraction, preview and sandboxes.

For an enterprise content management system, there are a number of important considerations that must be addressed; here I will touch on two relevant issues; authoring/proofing/collaborative tools and use of a single, central content repository.

Authoring/proofing/collaborative tools

An important aspect of writing copy is the availability of authoring and proofing tools. This may be as simple as spell and grammar checking but can also be tools for tracking editorial changes made by different people, adding comments, document versioning, translation, etc.

With a substantial amount of effort and added complexity, these tools can of course be provided by a WYSIWYG type interface built into the website but there are already extremely robust tools that most editors use every day that do all these things and much, much more - for example, Microsoft Word or OpenOffice. Why force your users to learn yet another way of editing content when better alternatives are available which the users already know how to use. Besides, we have noted many cases where editors are using word documents to write content anyway, which are then emailed around outside of any robust workflow and simply copy and pasted into the webform when the document is ready to be published (where reformatting and tweaking is inevitably required). With this approach, no effective workflow can be enforced and there is no traceability.

By linking back into Alfresco, the document is made available to the user to edit in their usual way and when the user has completed their work they can push the document through a workflow to allow for collaboration, approval and publication.

A central content repository

Having a central repository that contains all your content makes sense for any company as it allows the same content to be used in many different ways and provides a consistent interface and workflow for editors to manage any content regardless of where it will be used. For example, internal training documents should be managed in exactly the same way as marketing and website copy.

Workflows can be created to fit the type of content as appropriate; internal training documents may need to be approved by different people to website copy for example. If, in the future, the training documentation needs to be published on the website or as a PDF, it simply needs to be pushed through a different workflow. By linking back into Alfresco and using it as a central repository it encourages better reuse of content and collaboration between teams.

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