Well, good news! Since we discussed Chemistry with David Nuescheler  -- Day Software's CTO and one of Chemistry committers -- the CMIS implementation project has been officially incubated at the Apache Software Foundation (ASF).

Now, let's do some Chemistry with another major contributor to the project -- open source enterprise CMS vendor, Nuxeo, and its head of R&D Florent Guillaume.

Questions and Answers...

CMSWire: Why is the Enterprise Content Management vendor Nuxeo interested in CMIS and Chemistry? What value do you see?

Florent Guillaume: Nuxeo, as an open source vendor, values interoperability a lot. And this is not just marketing-speak, we see CMIS as a key factor for customers who need a standardized way of accessing Nuxeo repositories from their applications without learning proprietary protocols or APIs.

Conversely, CMIS will also allow customers to migrate data from other repositories, provided their vendors adopt CMIS as well. The more CMIS adoption we see, the more people will be able to make educated choices based on the intrinsic merits of a product, instead of being locked into their previous platforms and having to do costly product renewals because no clear transition path exists for them.

Chemistry for us is an opportunity to promote standard adoption by providing a library of a well-defined API and an exhaustive coverage of the CMIS specification. Chemistry will be a bridge between different protocols and backends, following the CMIS domain model.

CMSWire: How did your pre-Apache CMIS implementation come along?

Florent Guillaume: We started working on a CMIS prototype in January, to investigate technical feasibility and gauge the level of complexity of a basic implementation. As a prototype it proved a success, and some useful bits of that code base will be moved to Chemistry in the near future.

CMSWire: Why did you decide to partner with Day and combine your two CMIS implementation code bases into Chemistry?

Florent Guillaume: Through their involvement in the Jackrabbit project, Day had shown exemplar commitment to open standards and to the Apache Software Foundation. At the CMIS face-to-face meeting in January, David Nuescheler of Day had presented slides about his vision of a generic CMIS layer bridging clients and servers in a modular fashion.

The prototype that Dominique Pfister (Day) and Paolo Mottadelli (SourceSense) had produced for the face-to-face was, however, very much tied to the JCR.

Following these ideas, but beginning from scratch, I decided in February to start working on a repository-independent Java API that could then be bridged in both directions to clients or servers, as desired -- this became the Chemistry project.

Now that it has visibility through Jackrabbit and the incubator, more people have joined the effort, starting with Dominique, Paolo, and David of course but also a number of others.

CMSWire: What is your relationship with the ASF? Why do you think it'll benefit CMIS to be an Incubator project?

Florent Guillaume: We're big users of Apache libraries, but up until now we hadn't been involved as committers in ASF projects. OK, I'm lying, actually I have a bit of a forgotten history with the Apache HTTP Server project, you'll find my name on the httpd contributors page.

Learning Opportunities

Back in 1995 I wrote language negotiation code for it. httpd was until then mostly driven by English-speaking people and having web pages in multiple languages was a big need, as I was in a French university. Anyway, Chemistry will be our first direct contribution under the current ASF setup.

Chemistry wasn't initially slated to go to the Incubator, because we hadn't really thought of it and because the Jackrabbit PMC had accepted to check in our code in the Jackrabbit sandbox. However, given the scope of the code base, the PMC discussed things internally and then suggested that going directly to incubating status was probably a better choice, with the additional benefit of giving us more flexibility in quickly designating new committers. And we're very happy that it was just accepted, it's official as of Thursday.

CMSWire: What about Nuxeo's future plans for CMIS and for Chemistry?

Florent Guillaume: Big plans! CMIS will obviously have to follow its standardization course, which probably won't make it an official standard until early next year. But as a member of the OASIS CMIS TC, I follow the developments very closely and offer our feedback when needed.

Chemistry has extremely ambitious plans. We believe that it can become the de facto bridge between most of the Java-based content-oriented products, allowing a very wide variety of back-ends and applications to be connected together. And actually Java is not the sole language that this project is targeting, as David Nuescheler is also working on a JavaScript library for CMIS. In the coming month you should see an exponential increase in the functionality that Chemistry provides...

CMSWire: How did CMIS PlugFest go?

Florent Guillaume: The two-day CMIS PlugFest in Basel, hosted by Day, was a great success. We had around 14 people there from many companies (Alfresco, Day, Jahia, Hippo, Nuxeo, Open Text, SAP, Saperion, SourceSense). We coded, tested and fixed many combinations of servers and clients.

Some were talking AtomPub, others SOAP, a few both. Some were in Java, others in Flex, C++, JavaScript... All in all a wide variety of technologies. On the second day, Al Brown (IBM), CMIS TC Secretary, dropped by and spurred more discussion about a number of key aspects of the specification that are still in flux. Being all together in the same room or around beers is always much nicer than a weekly phone conference.

Such events are very productive and should definitely be encouraged, and I hope that we'll have the opportunity to reconvene in a few months with improved code and an updated specification.

CMSWire: Do you see any big CMS vendors (IBM, Open Text, Microsoft) that already expressed interest in CMIS join the Chemistry effort?

Florent Guillaume: It's really up to them, some have expressed informal interest, but these companies are often known to have long and arduous legal processes before their code can make it into an open source process. I'll let them comment at the appropriate time for them, but they would be very welcome.

CMSWire: Anything else you'd like to add?

Florent Guillaume: As you can gather, CMIS has us pretty excited as we believe that within one and a half year it'll really change the face of the content management industry, in a way that will benefit both the application vendors and the server vendors. Stay tuned, you can follow further Chemistry updates by myself (@efge on Twitter) and others. The Chemistry project now has a mailing list, see the wiki for details.

And Many Thanks...

To Nuxeo, Eric Barroca and Florent Guillaume for your time and insightful input. It's still too early to get overly (or even cautiously) excited about CMIS. There seems to be a lot of potential and benefits in CMIS, just as many as there are roadblocks and ongoing changes to the spec. But time will tell, as we see the specification and Chemistry evolve.