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Alfresco OpenSearch

Posted by dcaruana Employee Feb 14, 2007
Alfresco v2.0 adds support for OpenSearch.

OpenSearch is a specification for sharing search results, extending existing schemas such as ATOM and RSS. Execution of searches is supported via HTTP requests and responses.

OpenSearch comprises of:

  1. Description documents that describe the availability of a search engine

  2. Template Urls that describe how to invoke a search

  3. Paged search results in (extended) ATOM, (extended) RSS and HTML

  4. Auto-discovery of Description documents (i.e. search engines)

Alfresco exposes its own search capabilities via OpenSearch.  This means that any OpenSearch aware client can search an Alfresco Repository to retrieve paged results in either HTML, RSS or ATOM formats.  This includes the Web Browser.  You can use your favourite Web Browser (IE7 or FF2) to search Alfresco.  Auto-discovery of search engines makes it easy to register Alfresco as a Web Browser search engine.


This is cool, but we really wanted to use OpenSearch as a foundation for Alfresco federated search i.e. search many databases with a single query.  And this is what we have done.  The Alfresco Web Client now provides a search aggregator (available in the Sidebar and Dashboard) which submits a single query to one or more databases (Alfresco or non-Alfresco) and presents them in a unified user interface.  Results may be paged through.  The aggregator is OpenSearch aware.  Of course, AJAX techniques are used to provide an interactive experience and minimise transmission costs.


Whilst implementing this feature, OpenSearch has also allowed us to dip our toes into REST waters.  Some of the experience gained here may be applied to provide a REST based interface to all Alfresco services in the future.  ATOM, APP, OpenID and Microformats may also play a role.  OpenSearch 'template' URLs are interesting.  They could be applied to any HTTP service, not just search.  A really simple WSDL, if you like.  There are many OpenSearch engines and clients out there now, demonstrating how a simple specification can gain adoption quickly.  It's a shame that most engines currently only provide HTML responses.  This is fine for Web Browsers, but not aggregators.  Perhaps a 'search result' microformat can help.

To summarise, Alfresco is both an OpenSearch server and client.

Search Alfresco with your favourite OpenSearch clients, or search your favourite OpenSearch databases with Alfresco.

Jobs on DRM

Posted by wabson Employee Feb 7, 2007
Could this be the beginning of the end for DRM? Steve Jobs surprises everyone by revealing that he wants rid of it. Or as ZDNet put it:
“You’ve got to hand it to Steve Jobs; he knows how to attract attention and how to deflect attention,' said James McQuivey, an analyst with Forrester Research. “He turned the whole European DRM question on its ear. ‘You want me to open up FairPlay? Well, I don’t even want FairPlay’.'

I think he needs educating on why MP3 and AAC are not open formats (even if you do put the word “open' in quotes) and his calling on all European citizens to protest to their local big evil record company does come across as a rather thinly veiled attempt to deflect the criticism that certain countries have directed towards Apple on the issue. But overall really encouraging.

The RIAA’s response to Jobs’ post was… Interesting. So interesting in fact that you have to wonder if they even read it through.
The Recording Industry Association of America, however, issued a statement interpreting Jobs’ letter as an offer to license the FairPlay technology. “Apple’s offer to license FairPlay to other technology companies is a welcome breakthrough and would be a real victory for fans, artists and labels. There have been many services seeking a licence to the Apple DRM. This would enable the interoperability that we have been urging for a very long time,' it said in an emailed statement.

Apple clearly have a lot still to do to actually convince the record companies that this is the right way forward, but clearly it’s a step in the right direction.

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