First CMIS Implementation

Alfresco Software and Joomla partner up to develop an integration module based on Content Management Interoperability Services.

The initial implementation of a critical new Web services standard -- which will provide developers with common interfaces to competing vendors' enterprise content management (ECM) systems -- is now available from two providers of open source ECM systems.

The two vendors, Alfresco Software Inc. and Joomla, jointly developed and launched last week an integration module based on the Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS) standard, announced in September by the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS), which governs key Web services standards.

The CMIS interface specification was jointly drafted by several companies including Alfresco, EMC Corp., IBM Corp., Oracle Corp., Open Text Corp., SAP AG and Microsoft. Its purpose is to simplify interoperability among ECM systems using Web services and Web 2.0 interfaces, including Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), Representational State Transfer (REST) and the Atom publishing standard. A draft spec is currently under review by the OASIS standards group. An internal technical committee is advancing the spec toward certification as a standard.

Implementing the Standard
Using CMIS, developers can separate the repositories from the apps, which simplifies the development of so-called content-centric applications that are "repository-independent." Johan Janssens, the lead architect of Joomla 1.5, points to how SQL standardization enabled the separation of the relational database content from data-centric applications. CMIS will provide interoperability among ECM systems including SharePoint from Microsoft and others implementing the standard, such as EMC, IBM, Oracle and numerous others.

For its part, Microsoft expects its customers and ISVs to use the spec to create content mashups, document- and records-management apps, electronic-discovery solutions, multichannel publishing systems and end-user collaborative workspaces and portals. Microsoft's full support of CMIS won't come until the OASIS technical committee nears a final 1.0 standard, said Ethan Guresh, a Microsoft program manager, in a September blog post announcing his company's participation in the CMIS effort.

CMIS outlines a common domain model for ECM systems like Object Types -- called Content Types in SharePoint parlance -- and looks to standardize properties, folders, documents, versions and relationships. The spec also describes how to bind the domain model to SOAP and Atom, Guresh said. But he warned that the spec is intended only to provide base interoperability.

"The specification does not try to include all the capabilities of an ECM system, because many of these are simply too different between ECM systems," he wrote.

A First Step
The new Alfresco:Joomla integration module is based on the draft CMIS REST API. It allows companies running Joomla-based Web sites to access Alfresco's repository. This partnership brings Alfresco's back-end repository services to the millions of Joomla Web sites, according to the companies.

Joomlatools is a software development and services group focused on Joomla development. It was founded by a group of open source experts, including Janssens, DOCman creator Mathias Verraes and Amit Shah, the co-founder of ad-serving Web site

Based in London with offices in Palo Alto, Calif., Alfresco is one of the first open source companies to enter the ECM market. It was co-founded by John Newton, co-founder of Documentum, and John Powell, former COO of Business Objects. The company also recently released a toolset based on the draft specification called the CMIS Developer Toolbox. It includes resources to assist developers in the CMIS community with creating portable content applications based on the draft spec.

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About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance author and journalist based in Silicon Valley. His latest book is The Everything Guide to Social Media. Follow John on Twitter, read his blog on, check out his author page on Amazon, or e-mail him at

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