We haven’t heard much lately from Alfresco about its community edition, but this week that’s all changed. It has just released v4.2 of the Community Edition, the first since v4.0, which comes with a whole pile of improvements including better Google Docs integration.

With this release, Alfresco didn’t go through the usual process of issuing a press release, with the news about the release featuring only -- as far as we can see -- on the Alfresco blog by the Chief Community Officer Jeff Potts.

This v4.2a release, he says, has a long list of features that the community is going to like, with five in particular that he feels are worth mentioning.

Under the blog post title of  "Built to Share" -- just in case you didn’t know what this release was about -- the five features include:

1.Google Docs Integration

Describing it as really slick, Potts says this version has better and tighter integration with Google Docs, or Google Docs in Google Drive. As a result users can create documents in Docs and then send them back into Alfresco with a single click. On first-time use Alfresco asks you for permission to access your Docs account, but this will be familiar to anyone that has enabled this kind of access to other accounts like Facebook or Twitter.

2.Rich Media Gallery

For those that use Alfresco to manage visual assets like videos, this version comes with a rich media gallery that offers users a new view option that end-users can choose when looking through a list of documents. Instead of a vertical list of small thumbnails and files, it shows folder content as a set of adjacent thumbnails with the names of the asset overlayed on to of it. It also comes with drag-and-drop selection functionality.

3.New Dashlets

Also in this edition, there are new dashlets that enable users to stay on top of the content that is most relevant, or that they are using. Dashlets include:

  • Search dashlet: Added to the site dashboard and configure with and Alfresco FTS query. When the site dashboard opens, the query runs and displays the results.
  • Site Search dashlet: Is similar but used to let users run ad hoc queries and display the results. It avoids the need to leave the dashboard to run the query.
  • My Discussions: Lets you know when new discussions or threads are added and comes with a number of different filtering capabilities.

There is also a number of dashlets that have been improved in this release, including My Tasks, which includes Complete Tasks and Active Tasks, and the Image Preview dashlet.

4. Document Sharing

There are also easier ways of sharing document contents after downloading the document. This starts with Download as Zip function, which enables users to download more than one piece of content at a time. There is also a feature called Quick Share that comes to the on-premises edition by way of the Alfresco cloud solution. It’s quite simple: when users click ‘Share’ on a piece of content, Alfresco generates a shortened link that can be sent to others by email.

5.Technical Improvements

There are a number of technical improvements specifically for the developer community -- someone’s got to keep them happy -- including support for JDK 1.7 and Tomcat 7, shipment with LibreOffice 3.5, and the business process engine Activiti 5.10.

The release notes are also available and Potts is asking anyone who has tried out the new features, or has any observations on any of the other features to get in touch with him. More on the Community Edition as we hear about it.