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Angel Borroy, keensoft

Tell us a little about your background and how you came to use Alfresco.
I’ve been developing mainly in Java from 1998 and I’ve spent about ten years working around electronic signature solutions. I met Alfresco in 2008, when I was involved on a huge project for Spanish Ministry of Justice, and my first impression was not so good. Some awful intermediate API was developed in front of Alfresco and performance in that case was worse than bad. For some years I was just only integrating apps with Alfresco repository (always using native API), but my real story as Alfresco developer started in 2012.
In that year, the time I met keensoft, I developed by myself a full Alfresco installation, configuration, customization and support. Since then, I’ve been studying and enjoying Alfresco every day.
What challenges did you face? What are you most proud of?
It’s always easy to remember facts near in the memory, so I’ll tell you about my last successful upgrading and migration project.
We started from two different Alfresco installations based on two different tech stacks (including different databases) and we consolidated a unique Alfresco installation with all the contents and metadata from both and even preserving UUIDs for every object. To achieve this result, we were playing with Docker, patching CMIS API implementation and modifying internal Alfresco logic by using reflection techniques.
I’ve never heard about someone facing such a project, so I think we can be proud of this one.
How are you using Alfresco currently?
I’m involved in several Alfresco implantations, mainly 5.0 CE or upper. I’m helping our customers to maintain by themselves their own server and I’m developing required customizations for them.
We have also an internal Alfresco installation in our company, and my colleagues are always asking me to improve some features. So I spend my free time developing some experiments which sometimes are so useful as to be shared with the Community.
What resources have been the most helpful?
Every Alfresco developer must start his learning by studying the Alfresco Developer Series by Jeff Potts.
In order to acquire the right background, reading the classic Professional Alfresco, Practical Solutions for Enterprise Content Management is also a must.
For specific topics, there are also nice books like Alfresco CMIS by Martin Bergljung and Learning Alfresco Web Scripts by Ramesh Chauhan.
Obviously, I’m using also all the channels provided by Alfresco: IRC, forums, wiki, docs… And even I have elaborated a Twitter list including a hundred Alfresco experts which are publishing relevant blog posts.
Finally, a nice place to talk about Alfresco is The Order of the Bee, where many Community members are working together to improve Alfresco Community product.
Any secrets, hacks or advice for new users?
It’s easy to work with Alfresco, if you know how. Following best practices, although it can be hard for newbies, always is required. Don’t think about the shorter path, but find the right one. It takes more time to work like that at the beginning, but it will save you a lot of time (and troubles) in the future.
What are you working on at the moment (could be outside of Alfresco)?
Currently I’m developing an Aikau app to integrate part of the Share functionality into an Angular JS web app. I’m also collaborating to build that Angular JS, which will prepare me to understand the new Angular 2 API provided by Alfresco next fall.
If you’ve worked on multiple Alfresco projects, which has been your favorite?
I’ve worked on more than thirty Alfresco projects by now, and everyone has been challenging and interesting. I’ve been very lucky with my customers, but maybe the more valuable for me has been the collaboration we’ve started with a University Professor specialist in information systems at the same place I studied years ago.
What’s one tech trend/software/app that really excites you?
Microservices, which is not really a new approach, will be the main topic in the next months. Google, Amazon and also Alfresco are providing little building blocks that can be combined to build amazing services for the users.
I’ve been playing this year with Google Vision API and Alfresco to provide some auto-classification features for content ingestion, but my feeling is that all this new universe is exploding just now.
Anything you’d like to share with the community?
It’s easy to reach me at Alfresco channels (IRC, forums, Order of the Bee) and to get some advice from me, however I have always my IRC window open while working not to teach but to learn. There are many people in Alfresco Community sharing useful experiences, so always is a good time to learn something new.
You can connect with Angel on Twitter and be sure to check out his blog, Programming and So!
With 11 years of Alfresco experience, Robin brings a lots of expertise to the Alfresco community. Get to know more about him and his work in this week's featured member profile:

Robin Bramley

Joint CTO at Ixxus
Tell us a little about your background and how you came to use Alfresco.
I was introduced to computers at a very early age by my Dad who brought home a Hewlett Packard Series 80 from work and I remember playing a downhill skiing game on it. We had a series of home computers from the early 80s (Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48KB, Amstrad CPC 6128) and I used to tag along to the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) computer club in Bristol. The most notable alumni of that club was the late Sir Terry Pratchett who used me as a hat stand for his trademark black fedora.
A computer science degree followed and then I embarked upon a career within IT consultancy.
In early 2005 I was in discussions to join Opsera, a start-up that was going to build a CMS, when Alfresco came out of stealth mode. One quick pivot later and the plan was to build an information management appliance based on Alfresco. So I’d poked around with the earlier preview releases of Alfresco, but started in anger with version 0.6 in September 2005. 
Opsera became the first Gold Alfresco partner in the UK. The Enterprise Services division was later acquired by Ixxus, an Alfresco Platinum partner, in September 2010. Ixxus was acquired by Copyright Clearance Center in May 2016. 
 
What challenges did you face? What are you most proud of?
Having spent the previous 9 months on a Microsoft-based data warehouse programme, one of the biggest hurdles in learning Alfresco was getting my head around the Spring Framework application wiring. Inspecting the runtime behaviour to be met by a call stack full of e.g. Proxy$54 required a different approach to understanding a code base!
I’m proud of having been able to share a lot of my knowledge primarily through Alfresco conference presentations and helping to influence Alfresco’s technical direction, but in hindsight from 11 years of involvement of Alfresco, the idea that I’m most proud of was to expose Alfresco as an IMAP server. Small legal firms were an initial target for the information management appliance and those users lived in Outlook. I proved the concept in late 2005 on Alfresco 1.0 and it later became the OpsMailManagerproduct. Alfresco ultimately commoditised the idea when basic IMAP support was included in Alfresco 3.2. 
 
How are you using Alfresco currently? 
At Ixxus, we took the decision 5 years ago to specialise on providing content solutions to the publishing market. Consequently, we have developed a range of Ixxus Publishing Modules that augment Alfresco and have won various awards from Alfresco e.g. Solutions Partner 2013-2015. The most common use case is for helping publishers create, approve and publish their content-centric products. As Chief Scientific Officer I am mainly involved in higher level discussions & architectural decisions, though I do get the occasional deep dive. 
 
What resources have been the most helpful? 
I learnt Alfresco the hard way at the bleeding edge and tracking the commits, but I have to say that Jeff Potts' ECM Architect blog is a good read.

Any secrets, hacks or advice for new users?
I’m a big advocate of Open Source which has always been one of the appeals of Alfresco. However, with great power comes great responsibility; or just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!

What are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently doing quite a bit of pre-sales work that will hopefully result in some new customers both for Alfresco and Ixxus. 
 
If you’ve worked on multiple Alfresco projects, which has been your favorite?
It’s a tough call, but a recent favourite was a customer project in 2014 that involved rolling up my sleeves to work on encryption at rest development for AWS S3. Amazon had just released Server-Side Encryption with Customer-supplied keys (SSE-C) so meeting the customer need required modifying upstream open source libraries as well as extending the Alfresco S3 Connector. This was the topic of one of my BeeCon presentations earlier this year.
 
What’s one tech trend/software/app that really excites you?
I think the server-less space is going to get very interesting in the short term, but graph technology is one of my key areas of interest. The Neo4j 1.0 release announcement in early 2010 gave me the idea to reimplement the Alfresco NodeService interface… 
 
Anything you’d like to share with the community? A fun fact about yourself?
I think my earliest contributed patch to Alfresco was to fix the CIFS code to support multi-homed servers. That resulted from some network traffic inspection to see why we couldn’t map a network drive to Alfresco when it was running on a Linux server as opposed to a laptop. 
You can connect with Robin in the community or via: