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2016

Kalpesh Patel, CEO at ContCentric

 

Tell us a little about your background and how you came to use Alfresco.

 

I came to Alfresco as a team leader of my ex-employer when the department

was new. I am one of the first Alfresco Certified Trainers in Asia. I went

on to overlook around 80 Alfresco installations.

 

What challenges did you face? What are you most proud of?

 

Find trained developers!

 

I am most proud of the fact that expansion was very quick I took the number

to 60 Alfresco developers in 3 years. Four books were authored by the team

under my review. I am proud to be mentor of those authors.

 

How are you using Alfresco currently?

 

I am owning the startup named ContCentric. The mandate is to have 100%

Alfresco Certified engineers in the company. We are currently using

community versions of both Alfresco Share and Activiti to develop projects.

We are high on using add-ons or customizing the product to suit to the

client's requirement better.

 

What resources have been the most helpful?

 

Community is the most useful resource. We get to enrich our knowledge. New

much organized documentation is equally helpful.

 

Any secrets, hacks or advice for new users?

 

Alfresco is a great product. It is very important to understand the best

practices to use Alfresco. I advice to follow and understand alfresco

documentation thoroughly before diving deep into Alfresco. For developers,

I advice to get trained by a professional trainer or by online training

sessions organized by Alfresco University time-to-time. When you are facing

issue, do not get overwhelmed by error. Just copy the message, and search

on community or google and majority of the time, you will end up on useful

information to solve the issues.

 

What are you working on at the moment (could be outside of Alfresco)?

 

I would like to throw a light on two prominent projects based on Alfresco.

 

One is for Non-Banking Financial Services sector which will cater to the

necessity of controlling huge amount of documentation and the processes

such as lead management, solution offering, credit process, disbursement

notifications and revenue control.

 

The other project is for IT Change Management. We have made a POC using

Activity 6.0.0 beta. The process flow of system changes requested by the

users is managed. There are more than one approval workflows which are

triggered to the particular user. The CIO would be able to track all change

requests on real time with their current status.

 

 

If you’ve worked on multiple Alfresco projects, which has been your

favourite?

 

Alfresco project at CCH - a prominent healthcare staffing services spread

across 50 states of USA was a great experience. We replaced a proprietary

DM to establish robust and cost effective system. We used third party

integrations to achieve customized view, advance editing, fax set-up etc.

The client runs 700+ workflows/day, 280+ file-types and 100,000 folders and

over 2 million documents. Client saved around 70% of cost by adopting

open-source product and eliminating vendor-locking.

 

What’s one tech trend/software/app that really excites you?

 

Being an Alfresco aficionado, my excitement also revolves around Enterprise

Content Management. The large organisations are considering a separate ECM

engine like Alfresco in addition to ERP they already have, is going to be

key-growth driven in near future.

Since many of you already know our Alfresco employees and their backgrounds, I thought we would stray from the Featured Member interview, and instead share what they do on a day to day basis. Today, we're featuring Dave Draper, Senior Engineer:
I usually start my day by going through my e-mails - usually to see what issues have been raised on the Aikau in GitHub or in JIRA. I will usually then review the previous day's IRC logs for any interesting conversations and browse all the new questions that have appeared on the Alfresco Community Platform and Stack Overflow. I do my best to answer any questions to the best of my ability and will often reach out to other members of the Engineering team if I see a question that they are better placed to answer.
I also check any new conversations that occurred in the many Skype groups that I’m a member of as well as checking for anything relevant to me on Twitter. Quite often there will be one or two interesting blog posts that have been shared so I will read through them as I like to try and keep my knowledge of what’s going on in the industry (and in web development in particular) current.
I always try to finish each day “cleanly” so that I don’t spend my evenings thinking about unfinished problems. This means that I’ll usually be making a start on a fresh feature or bug fix. I’m simultaneously active in two sprints - one for Aikau and one for Share - although there is usually considerable overlap. 
I try to follow a Test Driven Development approach as best I can so will always try and write my tests before I write the code. Once tests are passing I will create pull request and which I will get reviewed and merged. 
If Aikau is ready to be released (I try to ensure that there is at least one release a week) then I’ll run a full regression test, update the release notes and use our Bamboo servers to perform the release and updates to the JSDocs and Sandpit applications.
When I’m not fixing bugs or working on features I’ll most likely be writing up something in a blog post and increasingly I’ve taken to recording video posts (because I feel like I can convey more information in less time that way).
In the very rare moments when I have something approaching free time I will try and spend some time working on specific areas of Aikau that need to be pushed forward - the forms runtime service for example or looking at ways in which to increase performance. 
Fortunately I have very few meetings each week, but there is always a daily scrum call for the Share project and occasionally I will have a 1-to-1 meeting with my manager or some other such thing to attend.
When I’m working from home (which I do 3 days a week) my day is broken up with school runs and dog walks. I find that the time I spend walking my dogs can actually be very productive to problem solving - stepping away from the keyboard into the fresh air and getting my body moving helps me to think clearly through any tricky bugs that I happen to be dealing with. 
When I’m in the office my day is broken up with my 2 hour commute on the train. I’m usually able to work effectively on the train despite an occasionally patchy 4G service and find that getting stuck into an interesting problem makes the journey fly by. My days in the office are also valuable as this is when I can most effectively network with my colleagues - although I would say that on the whole I’m probably more productive working from home as there are generally less distractions.

 

Cesar Capillas, ECM/Portal Consultant & Co-Founder, Zylk.net 

 

Tell us a little about your background and how you came to use Alfresco.

 

My career in IT started about 10 years ago, while I was finishing my Ph. D. in Computational Physics. In college, I worked on the implementation of crystallographic algorithms and development of applications that we maintained on a internet site free of use, so I improved my computing skills a lot. Then I decided to found an IT company (zylk.net) with some of my classmates. Our company is specialized in Java open source technologies and products and one of my first projects was to provide technical support to a company that used Alfresco as part of their final solution. I also had to train users and system administrators of the service (so I had to learn it the hard way). Thanks to this project I started participating and contributing in the community forums, and writing small recipes and blog posts about Alfresco in the corporate site (http://www.zylk.net/alfresco-blog).

 

What challenges did you face? What are you most proud of?

 

Well, we did not have much experience neither in IT nor Alfresco when we started. In fact we were learning how to make IT projects while we bet on new emerging and visionary technologies such Alfresco. During that time, any project started with an Alfresco Community setup, a small customization, a sysadmin training and a content migration. Step by step, we were involved on bigger Alfresco projects with bigger repositories and more development requirements. Nowadays, we are working in 24x7 high availability use cases with huge repositories of about 100 million documents. It was nice growing up with Alfresco, at the same time it consolidated in the ECM market. 

 

How are you using Alfresco currently?

 

Mainly in a collaborative way with Alfresco Share, and also as backend repository for custom content centric apps via CMIS API framework. 

 

What resources have been the most helpful?

 

Probably the best resources for learning I have ever used are ecmarchitect.com and blyx.com. I learned a lot (and I still do) with Jeff Potts and Toni de la Fuente, from architectural, development and sysadmin points of view. And not only with their blogs, Alfresco Developer Tutorial Series (by Jeff) and Alfresco Backups and Security whitepapers (by Toni) are really very good resources, and highly recommended for developers and system administrators respectively. Some recent Alfresco books are also useful for certification such as Alfresco CMIS, Learning Webscripts or Alfresco Administration from Packt Publishing. And last but not least also the Alfresco Enterprise PDF documentation.

 

Any secrets, hacks or advice for new users?

 

Patience at first, specially for developers. It is important to understand Alfresco features and capabilities before starting to write code, while you need to know the different APIs and their possibilities. It is essential to follow best practices, and read all documentation and technical tips and then try to put this reading into practice. Not only about Alfresco itself, also about the different technologies around the product. Finally, learn helping to others, writing small recipes or wikis to explain what you learned. Alfresco has a nice Community, enjoy the the people involved, or in community events like BeeCon.

 

What are you working on at the moment?

 

I'm currently involved in several high availability Alfresco Enterprise installations, providing architectural advice and best practices. I also support and train sysadmins and developers, helping our customers to maintain their Alfresco-related services. We also have an internal Alfresco Community installation in zylk.net, which is countinously improved for our clients and workers with new Alfresco addons and features. Recently, we finished a protocol-based digital signature addon for Alfresco 5, based on Sinadura 5 desktop client, one of the open source products of the company.

 

If you’ve worked on multiple Alfresco projects, which has been your favorite?

 

Probably one of my fav project and also one of the most complete was one related with a migration from multiple CMS repositories (Sharepoint + Plone) to Alfresco. It had about 800 sites including users, permissions and contents. We used also Alfresco as a backend with a custom REST framework for corporate applications with a BPM integration. We also developed custom authentication subsystems, custom policies, custom content modelization, custom SSO integration... so much customization.

 

What’s one tech trend/software/app that really excites you?

 

Recently I am interested in NoSQL databases and Big Data ecosystem of the Apache family. Alfresco related, I would like to dive deeper into Activiti, and Alfresco Application Developer Framework based in Angular 2, which seems so promising.