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About 2 years ago we released our first eLearning class. This was a self-paced and online class which has since been updated to keep up with Alfresco's new product releases. We’ve found that this approach works well for our introductory topics, because it gives our students the option to learn at their own pace and in their own time, with a tried and trusted formula.  But, given the demands of some of our more advanced courses an instructor becomes essential. This is where the instructor led training (ILT for short) steps in. In a classroom environment with a trainer you can ask questions, for example how you might implement features in your own business case.

However ILT classes have some drawbacks. Since they are scheduled at a particular location, at a particular time, if this date and time does not match your availability you will have to wait until the next class, which may be weeks later. When you register for a class it is possible the class may be cancelled because of insufficient numbers. Somehow we need to address these drawbacks.

Project Espresso?

Our project, code named Espresso, will deliver a brand new and revolutionary way of taking training from Alfresco, that will address these issues and provide additional benefits to participants.

We pay close attention to industry trends and to our customers and both have caused us to re-think the challenge of delivering affordable, effective training.  This is why we’ve come up with a new way to deliver training to delegates. The changes happening in the way people learn, and are trained, are both profound and permanent. For the very first time, learners have the ability to take control of their own learning experience. This is being driven for the most part by the advent of new technologies, social platforms, search engines and near ubiquitous instant communications.

That’s why we’re embracing this new era of Personal Learning. Tertiary educators are adopting these changes quickly and even schools are getting in on the act through the flipped-classroom model.  This trend to Personal Learning is becoming widespread throughout the education field and is being led by two organizations in the United States edX and Coursera. They have invested many millions in spearheading this approach and are reporting impressive early success.

The future of training

In future we are looking for a different type of training delivery channel which more closely matches the Personal Learning approach and which will deliver benefits to Alfresco as well as our students. We’re stuck for a name at the moment, but this new approach will:

  • be intensive self-paced, but flexible;

  • have electronic content delivery;

  • be group based;

  • supported by an instructor;

  • have a support forum per class;

  • have no minimum delegate requirement (i.e. guaranteed to run);

  • have a virtual machine environment provisioned.

If you would like to see a demo of our vision about how this would work? You can watch it now, but please bear in mind that this video demonstration is a future concept! We are working hard to bring this new way of training to you, and it’s not too late to let us know what you think by completing our survey, it will take 5 minutes of your time and as a thank you, we will enter you into our prize draw on 25 February, when one lucky respondent will win an Amazon Kindle Fire.
Anyone who's familiar with CMIS and the Apache Chemistry project will likely be familiar with the CMIS Workbench.  It's a handy developer-oriented GUI tool that provides a low level view of any CMIS-compliant repository.

With the release of the Alfresco Public API back in October, the Alfresco Cloud is now a CMIS-compliant repository, and can hence be accessed using the CMIS Workbench.  The CMIS Workbench does not yet directly support the OAuth2 authentication mechanism used in the Alfresco Cloud however; this post describes the steps necessary to get it working.

For starters, you'll need accounts on both the Alfresco Cloud and the Alfresco Developer Portal (signup to both of these services is free).  You'll then need to download v0.8.0 or newer of the CMIS Workbench and unzip it somewhere convenient on your hard drive.  It also helps to have some understanding of the OAuth2 authentication mechanism, how the various OAuth2 codes and tokens are obtained and used, and how OAuth2 has been implemented in the Alfresco Cloud - if you're not familiar with these concepts you may find this DevCon 2012 session helpful.

Next you need to obtain an OAuth2 access token from the Alfresco Cloud.  This is best achieved using a pre-built application, such as my Grails sample app (which conveniently dumps the access token to the log).

After that we're ready to run the CMIS Workbench.  After the 'Login' dialog appears, switch to the 'Expert' tab and paste in the following text (note: on Mac OSX you need to use the Ctrl key rather than the Command key for select and paste operations):

# Alfresco Cloud (CMIS 1.0 AtomPub)




# Please provide a valid OAuth access token in the following property

# Note that Alfresco Cloud access tokens have a limited lifetime (currently 1 hour) and the OpenCMIS Workbench does not auto-refresh the access token when it expires

org.apache.chemistry.opencmis.binding.header.0=Authorization:Bearer ####ACCESS_TOKEN####

# Other optional options - compression etc. - may be provided here

Replace the text '####ACCESS_TOKEN####' with the access token you obtained previously, ensuring there is a single space character between 'Bearer' and the access token value.  This should end up looking similar to the following (click to embiggen):

Connection Information for Alfresco Cloud

Click 'Load Repositories' and if the settings are correct the Alfresco Networks you are a member of will be displayed in the repositories dropdown.  Pick one (don't be surprised if you have only one - that's the normal case), click the Login button and you should be viewing your Alfresco Cloud content using the CMIS Workbench!

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