Alfresco Adds Social Networking Capabilities To Its Document Management System

The line between content management and social networking software is getting very blurry.

Alfresco debuted a new release of its open-source and commercial content management software Wednesday with added social networking, workflow and collaboration capabilities. Alfresco Enterprise 3.4 provides a platform for systems integrators, VARs and ISVs to develop applications for building and managing "social-ready" content that’s shared, collaborated on and syndicated across the Web.

Organizations are increasingly deploying business-focused social networking systems such as Chatter, Jive, Drupal, Liferay and Lotus Quickr: 31 percent of enterprises regularly use such social media tools, said Todd Bar, Alfresco chief marketing officer, in an interview. But that’s generating volumes of unmanaged content, he said.

"Social content management is where the capabilities of social business systems and traditional enterprise content management meet," said CTO John Newton, in a statement. Alfresco Enterprise 3.4 helps create and deliver that content and captures the results of discussions around the content.

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Added capabilities in the new release of Alfresco Enterprise include social enhancements to the Share user interface such as status updates, content activity streams and enhanced search; simple folder-based document workflow within Share that complements Alfresco’s business process management tools; and native support for content replication for creating federated content repositories for geographically dispersed companies.

The new Alfresco Web Quick Start tool provides best-practice templates for building content-rich Web sites on top of Alfresco Share. And a new DocLib portlet in Alfresco Enterprise exposes a document library to standards-based portals such as Liferay or Red Hat JBoss Portal, while the software continues to work with Drupal, Lotus Quickr and other systems via CMIS (content management interoperability services).

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Blue Fish Development Group, an Austin, Tex.-based systems integration and consulting company, resells Alfresco's content management software and provides a range of implementation, training, user adoption and development services around the application.

The improvements to the user interface in Alfresco 3.4 are the key enhancement, said Blue Fish CEO Michael Trafton, in an interview. "One of the most important things for us at Blue Fish is user adoption and the user interface is a big part of that," he said.

The line between managing documents and managing teams of employees is becoming blurry, Trafton said, and the Share interface makes it possible to do both with a single interface. Blue Fish's larger customers would also like Alfresco 3.4's new replication tools and bigger document repository, he said.

Alfresco has more than 220 partners and resellers, many of them systems integrators, Bar said.

While some of the new capabilities in Alfresco 3.4 were included in the free community edition that was made available in November, the commercial edition with all of the new features and functionality is available now.