There has been some debate recently about the “demise” of the JCR specification.One of the factors blamed for JCR’s demise is the relatively new CMIS standard. This begs the question: what is to prevent CMIS from the same fate as JCR?

Vendor Adoption

Probably the most critical part of a standardgaining widespread acceptance is the adoption by vendors.From theoutset, CMIS had a lot of adoption by the larger content managementvendors.This support hasn’t been limited to the larger, establishedvendors like EMC, IBM, or Oracle, but includes Microsoft and a healthycollection of open source vendors such as Alfresco and Nuxeo.

Broadening the support is the Apache Chemistry project which will allowvendors that currently support the JCR specification to support CMIS.

Thereis one minor gap, the number of application vendors are limited.Itmakes sense that application vendors didn’t build and release CMISintegrations to CMIS enabled repositories until enough repositories hadinterfaces.It has been a year and there still hasn’t been a lot ofprogress here.

This is actually a small item of concern and will bearwatching this year.It is quite possible that the lag by theapplication providers could extend for multiple reasons:

  • Working integrations with many larger CMS platforms already exist.
  • Newapplication features, like a CMIS interface, have to fit into existingrelease cycles.These cycles can take upwards of three years for moreestablished applications.
  • Unique content object model installersstill have to be developed for every “targeted” CMS.While CMIS mayprovide a standard way to access unique content types, it doesn’tmagically create them.

As long as CMIS continues to evolve andgrow in adoption, the application vendors should begin to leverage thestandard for their own benefit.If it begins to lose traction beforethis happens, vendors may decide to stick with their unique integrations

Becoming More Complete

As CMIS looks to evolve andbecome a more complete standard, there are many things that need to beaddressed.Some of these are already in process while others are merelyin the formative stages for the 2.0 version of the standard:

Learning Opportunities

  • Typemutability: This is something that is underway now.This is criticalfor future success as this will allow application providers to createdeployable objects models simply through CMIS.While not magic, it mayprovide the next best thing.
  • Web Browser Binding: Another criticalfeature from both a practical and image perspective that is currentlybeing developed.Integrating into Web 2.0 applications is not a make orbreak feature for CMIS.The proposed binding illustrates the abilityfor CMIS to evolve to meet new technical realities.This flexibilitywill be critical to CMIS’s ability to remain relevant.
  • RecordsManagement: This is going to be important for enterprise adoption. Whileit is important for enterprise applications to be able to utilizecontent stored remotely, enabling those same applications to managerecords in conjunction with business data makes managing businessinformation that much easier.The simple act of declaring records andplacing them on hold will allow a centralized management of records andreduce the need to migrate records out of legacy systems.

Thoseare just some of the features that will help the adoption of CMIS andmake it more appealing for application developers to leverage CMIS. While not every CMS will support all of these features, CMIS is, andshould continue to be, a standard that meets the needs of the greaterecosystem and not a standard representing the lowest common denominator.

A Dose of Reality

Nomatter what anyone does, the CMIS standard will become obsolete oneday.This is the nature of most standards. The technology the standardis based upon becomes out-dated or the purpose that a standard servedwill eventually no longer be required.

The question that everyoneneeds to ask is if the problems that CMIS solves, and the underlyingtechnologies, are likely to be around for a while?

The first answeris a definite yes.Interoperability will be a problem that will bearound for at least ten years, likely much longer.As for thetechnology, that is difficult to predict.The existence of differentbindings for CMIS helps mitigate against the risk of changingtechnology.

That mitigation is why I think that CMIS should avoid JCR’s fate for a very long time.