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.