Leverage Social Apps, Or Fall BehindAlfresco is pushing for the expansion of social computing in the enterprise. John Newton believes this is an imperative, and even more, that it is being driven by a new generation of information workers who just can't stand the current state of enterprise software. In a recent statement, an Alfresco spokesperson asserted that organizations must choose either to ban social software use or to harness its potential. Like the folks attending this week's Executing Social Media conference, the company clearly believes that social apps like Facebook can be harnessed to better communicate with the communities of customers, partners and employees. And further that the emerging social application platforms can potentially achieve great things in the knowledge management and collaboration realms.
Alfresco's First Facebook ApplicationIn speaking with John Newton, Alfresco's CTO, today, he explained that their first Facebook application is just an example. Its meant as a demonstration and as a developer reference. By exposing their REST API to Facebook any number of scenarios are theoretically possible -- from document sharing to workflow management to user management. Though John admits that collaboration around published content is the most likely use case.The application is modeled on existing Facebook photo and video sharing apps and as such leverages Facebook's native security and access control framework and then augments this with Alfresco's own object level ACL capabilities. Users who install and configure the application can create document libraries and then assign access to groups and/or to specific users.
Alfresco Document Libraries in FacebookThe core elements of the example application include:* Facebook application registration* Facebook authorization and single sign-on* Facebook Markup Language (FBML)for a seamless and standard look and feel* Content services integration via Alfesco's Web Scripts Framework
A Light Integration ArchitectureAlfresco has tried to keep things light. Under the covers, an Alfresco Facebook Application is developed by referencing both standard Facebook development practices and Alfresco's Web Script Framework (see: Alfresco Goes Light with Web Scripts Pattern). The Web Scripts framework has been extended as part of the project, so would be Facebook/Alfresco developers won't be scared off by nasty things like Java coding IDEs, compile-time errors or null reference exceptions.
Alfresco Facebook Application Architecture