The official documentation is at: http://docs.alfresco.com
This document should be considered work in progress and does not reflect features currently available in Alfresco.
Record Folder and Record Lifecycle
There are two main objects at play in the record lifecycle. The Record and the Record Folder.
A Record folder is created within a specific Record Category. This category will define the behaviour of the Record Folder. Retention, review and disposition instructions and schedules are defined on the Record Category. Changes to a Record Category should be reflected onto the contained Record Folders.
When a Record folder is created it is in the Open state. This means documents can be filed within it. When a document is filed it is placed, most commonly, within a Record Folder and will follow the retention, review and disposition instructions defined on the Record Category and hence the Record Folder that is contained within. In some situations the document is filed directly into a Record Category.
Record Folders themselves can be considered as 'fat records' and once cut off, follow the same lifecycle as a Record itself.
A Record Folder can be Closed. This means new Records can not be filed within it. This is distinct from cutting off a Record Folder. When a Record Folder, or in fact a Record, is cut off it indicates it has started it's path towards disposition. A user with the correct permissions can, however, reopen a Record Folder or continue to file records within it.
If a filed Record is considered to be a Vital Record (defined in the containing Record Category) then the Record will move to the Pending Review state based on the review cycle defined. Once reviewed by the relevant user the Record is marked as such and returned to the default filed state.
As already mentioned, cutting off a Record marks it as ready for disposition. Most Record Categories, however, define a retention period. This means once cut off, the Record or Folder Record is moved to the held state where it will stay until such time as either an instruction indicates that the retention can be removed or that the time schedule for the retention expires.
Opportunity should be given specifying (e.g. at the Record Category level) when the record's retention countdown (held state) should really start (i.e. cut off process conditional to a business event, the latter triggering the retention countdown).
Records can be archived without knowing exactly when the retention period will really start.
While in the held state Records and Record Folders will not be disposed. A hold can be extended indefinitely by freezing it. This occurs in cases where it is desirable to prevent records from following their usual disposition instructions and ensuring they are not disposed.
While in the cut off state the Record or Record Folder is awaiting disposition which occurs in two main ways. If the record is destroyed it and it's meta data are removed and can not be recovered.
Transferring a Record means to move it to a temporary holding location or ascend it to the National Archive.