There are few surprises in today’s official release of Jahia 7 — but only because Jahia disclosed most of its features and functionality during JahiaOne, its international user conference in Paris this past February.

While the general release of Jahia 7 is interesting, what is just as interesting for future developments of this open source content management system (CMS) vendor is the development of its vision and strategy around what it calls Digital Industrialization. 

Uninterrupted, Optimized

Digital industrialization suggests the development of an uninterrupted, optimized and continuous workflow of digital experiences, from the identification of a business need to the delivery of a solution to meet that need. It offers organizations the ability to respond to business needs quickly and automatically as part of the organizations digital evolution, the company noted.

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Jahia's  production model

In practical terms, this means that distributed development across the organization is completely secured and integrated with both the code server and the private apps forge.

For business workers and developers, it also offers the almost unheard of advantage of allowing them to collaborate in real-time on fast and short iterations that result in the development of a component that can be shared securely across the enterprise through the private apps forge.

In other words, as soon as a component is ready for use, it is made available for download in what is effectively an internal and private app store.

This also means that  the Total-Cost-Of-Ownership (TCO) and time-to-market of digital projects decrease because of its ability to reuse modules and components from the private apps forges.

Inside Jahia 7

All this is through the Jahia 7 release. According to Jahia’s CEO, Elie Auvray, it brings the ability to develop collaboratively with marketing teams and deploy modules and apps securely thanks to Private App Forges.

It is the end of the tunnel effect era: because they can now truly work together, developers and marketers can deliver business solutions faster. Decision makers validate recent developments that are made available to the entire company through private forges. Everyone can then use and reuse — safely — these modules and applications for all new digital initiatives without compromising neither the assets of the company nor its critical projects. You no longer spend blindly. You invest without sacrificing marketing velocity, but instead, by augmenting it. This is the double promise of Digital Industrialization."

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 Jahia Digital Factory Content type: from the edit mode, lists of all available content

Jahia 7 comes with a wide range of functionality and also represents a milestone in the development of Jahia itself. With the release of Jahia 7, the company has introduced the following changes:

  • JahiaxCM, the open source java CMS, is being renamed to Jahia Digital Factory.
  • Jahia Wise, which provides document sharing, collaboration and social communities, will now be known as Jahia Workspace Factory.
  • Jahia Studio, where the customer experience components are built, has been improved and paired with Jahia 7.
  • Jahia 7 also introduces Private App Stores.

Jahia’s Vision

Ahead of today’s release, Auvray explained the thinking behind the changes and gave us a guided tour of Jahia 7 and its features. The first thing to note, he said, is that if Jahia 7 is a major release with some notable changes across the Jahia portfolio, it is part of a roadmap that was carefully developed by the company from the very beginning.

Yes, there are significant new products. And yes, there are some name changes around the existing products, but it is all designed to keep everything in line with the Digital Industrialization strategy, which in itself is a development of the original agile CMS thinking that has characterized Jahia since the beginning. Auvray told us:

There are a lot of companies that promise easy to use interfaces and promise their clients easy and agile interfaces that will be accessible to all the people in the organization that need to use it, even those who have no technology background. But the problem is delivery. Most of them don’t deliver.

Integration providers offer organizations the promise of aggregating and interacting with all the organization's applications with the click of a button [mouse]. Again, most can’t deliver on this. We not only offer this, but we also deliver it through light weight APIs and easy-to-use interfaces."

This is working for Jahia, which has numerous companies with considerable name recognition as clients, Auvary said. Some of those companies are managing 10 million web pages per day. However, again he stressed that this is not a change in direction for Jahia, but part of the company’s natural evolution:

We did not change our business model, or our vision. We are still following the same vision that we ever had and that vision can be summed up in a single word: convergence. Jahia is still an open source platform combining web management, document management, and a portal with a unified business interface.

This means that from a business perspective, when you take a digital portal page you know that all the business apps that you need are aggregated together with device and personal contextualization. If we seem a bit different now, it’s not really. Our vision now it’s more sophisticated, but ultimately the same as our original vision.”

In fact, if convergence of applications was the driving principal behind the 6.6 release in February 2012, Jahia 7 takes that one step further. According to Auvray, the technology market has traditionally been divided into portal, document management, enterprise content management (ECM) and web CMS, but this is neither feasible, nor an accurate reflection of what is happening anymore.

Web, documents, portal and social for all types of projects all have to be managed by simple content contributors … It’s not just about design though. Sometimes the decision to put a particular kind of content in a particular channel is not a design decision and needs the tools to impact on the layout of a project. We provide the tools that they can use without impacting the work of developers."

Even after taking a tour through Jahia 7 with Auvray, it would be very hard to outline all the features that come with the new release. That said, there are a few things that we should flag as worth looking into in greater depth for anyone interested in agile content management with rapid and effective customer support:

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 Jahia Digital Factory drag drop: from the edit mode, a simple drag & drop allows you to add modules that administrators would have validated (here the rating module)

1.Distributed Development

This is a core element in the Digital Industrialization strategy and offers users better control and agile development of their content. In practical terms, this means a whole pile of improvements in Jahia Studio, its user experience builder with a shared source repository. It allows several developers to work on the same project, regardless of where they are geographically located, directly on the integration server from their desktop. All source modifications are pushed to a repository to which the Studio is linked.

2.Dynamic Content

Marketing teams are given more control over their main objectives, enabling them provide brand consistency through all their sites and adapt content to whatever channel they are working in for better user experiences. As a result they can create global and localized digital initiatives, manipulate any type of content and assemble full fledged sites based on pre-defined criteria. 

3.Private App Stores

This provides a way for organizations to share their features across the enterprise securely once they have been developed. If you develop a new integration between, for example, your CRM, ERP or analytics applications and your customer portal, it becomes a lot more viable if your other websites also have access. It also enables organizations to link instances to one or several app stores.

4.Features and Modules

In keeping with the agility centric thinking behind Jahia 7, it is possible to install or upgrade modules by deploying, underplaying, starting or stopping modules or activating them all through a what you see is what you get interface. Multiple versions of a module can coexist without conflicts (one started at a time) and downgrade to the previous version can be authorized if necessary. All Jahia instances are connected to the central Jahia App Store with modules added regularly.

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Jahia Digital Factory drag drop final : from the edit mode, a simple drag & drop allows you to add modules that administrators would have validated (here the rating module)

5. Code Wizards

Jahia 7 provides new tools to make development work easier and more secure. Definitions can be created and edited using a GUI, featuring advanced settings, inheritances and constraints. Developers can even add their own code snippets. They can edit sources through an online interface and code wherever they are, even without an IDE installed locally. Direct editing allows developers to test changes on the fly.

There are many other features that are worth investigating, but these are some of the modules that stood out. This, however, is only the latest in a number of planned major releases from Jahia, including Portal Factory and E-Commerce factory, which are due in the next few weeks. More on these when they happen.