Supporters of Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS) may be pulling out the party hats. The Apache Software Foundation has announced that Apache Chemistry, an open source implementation of the CMIS standard has graduated from incubator status to a top-level project. This news follows Nuxeo’s announcement earlier in the month that it was contributing its CMIS supported content repository to Eclipse (news, site).

Understanding CMIS

The content management interoperability standard (CMIS) is one of the most recent standards in the content management space. Backed by some of the biggest names in the ECM market and managed by OASIS, CMIS focuses on improving interoperability and reducing integration complexity between ECM systems at a repository level. The CMIS specification became an official OASIS specification on May 1, 2010.

CMIS defines a standard data model and set of services that expose most common ECM capabilities, like querying a repository, in a consistent way. This approach allows applications to interact with multiple ECM systems, or migrate to new systems, without performing multiple custom integrations based on proprietary product interfaces.

A number of vendors provide content management and portal products with CMIS-compliant repositories. These include Alfresco, EMC Documentum, IBM FileNet, Microsoft SharePoint, Nuxeo and OpenText Enterprise Library Services. The growing adoption by vendors has led some to question if CMIS would result in the demise of the earlier Java Content Repository (JCR) standard.

Chemistry Leading the Charge to CMIS

The Chemistry project, which began incubating at Apache in March of 2009, currently consists of the following sub-projects:

  • OpenCMIS -- CMIS client and server libraries for Java
  • cmislib -- CMIS client library for Python
  • phpclient -- CMIS client library for PHP
  • DotCMIS -- CMIS client library for .NET

Officials associated with Apache Chemistry commented that the project is successfully driving adoption of the CMIS standard. Initially, Chemistry supported Java via OpenCMIS, but many software platforms, such as Python, PHP and .NET, are in progress.

Many of the contributors to Apache Chemistry also participate in the OASIS CMIS Technical Committee. The project is community-driven. This is a common approach to Apache projects because they find it provides the most rapid feedback on feature implementation and drives innovation.

Craig Randall, Chief Architect, Customer Experience Management, Adobe told CMSWire,

As an OASIS CMIS Technical Committee member and someone who has been involved in what is now that OASIS CMIS 1.0 standard since 2006, I think that the maturation of Apache Chemistry is good for the industry. An open standard needs open source implementations to make it effective. Adobe’s own Jukka Zitting was one of three mentors that guided Chemistry from incubation to top-level project on 2/16/2011. Several Adobe engineers, including our CTO for CEM, David Nuescheler -- a fellow TC member -- are committers on the Apache Chemistry project.

Adobe should be committed to Chemistry. Day Software, whom Adobe acquired in July of 2010, was one of the Chemistry committers. CRX, Adobe's (Day's) content infrastructure supports both CMIS and JCR (CRX is one of the most well known commercial implementations of JCR). According to Randall, "Chemistry provides an open standard-based bridge to JCR, and CRX can leverage CMIS and JCR to increase the openness of its virtual content repository capability."

Already Used in Several Platforms

Although the project is just leaving incubation, it is already included in the codebase of several open source and commercial solutions. Chemistry’s move to a top level project makes it a peer to the popular Apache JCR reference implementation, Jackrabbit.

Currently, there are actually two concurrent OpenCMIS efforts underway; two sandboxes are being used to implement and test the new CMIS 1.1 features, which is expected to be released this year.

Other industry leaders are also expressing their support. Richard Anstey, Vice President of Product Management at OpenText said,

With the graduation of Apache Chemistry to the top level, a number of barriers to broader CMIS adoption are being removed.”

Chemistry’s move to a top level project will likely garner more attention for the project and for the CMIS standard. In an IT environment where it is increasingly likely that multiple content repositories exist, strengthening interoperability operability options is a welcome development.