AnsweredAssumed Answered

Editing via Webdav (again)

Question asked by mightygorilla on Jul 13, 2011
Latest reply on Jul 20, 2011 by stevegreenbaum
I'm trying to see if Alfresco might be a good fit for some collaborative processes inside certain departments within our company. Our needs do not seem too demanding, but I've spent 2 days scouring the web for a way to make this work, and come up with a lot of information that all leads to a dead end.

Test Setup: Ubuntu Server 10.10, Alfresco Community 3.4.d, Windows 7/xp clients, OpenOffice 3.3 / LibreOffice 3.4.1, Firefox 5 (but any browser that works would be fine…)

For one of our processes, we need to be able to click on some Excel documents in Share and edit them, with the save function actually saving it back to it's original location in Alfresco via Webdav.

1. Browser Problems
As far as browsing Webdav data goes, IE, Chrome, and Firefox (with "Open as Webfolder" add-on) all work just fine. That's unfortunately irrelevant for what many users want to do. We can browse the data using the Alfresco Share GUI. We just need the browser to stop downloading the target file and saving it locally and then passing the local path to the Office application. Just opening the application and passing the link would work.

2. No Office App Problems
I found plenty of stuff stating that OpenOffice wouldn't work with Webdav, and MS Office 2003+ was required - but I can open a direct link to Alfresco data in OpenOffice and save it back there easily via Webdav as long as the configuration option is checked to use the internal OpenOffice file dialog instead of the Win OS one.  So unless I've missed something here, there is no real reason for installing plug-ins or special stuff in OO to work with Webdav paths.
There's an Open Office plugin for Alfresco, but it's apparently unmaintained and currently broken - but I'm not sure what it actually did when it did work….
There's a MS Office plug-in that may do what we need, but we're not going to be spending 50 grand to upgrade every PC here to the latest Office version so that's kinda off the table for us.

3. Launchy Workaround
Many users were using the "Download With" Add-in as a workaround in Firefox, but as it has not been maintained, some had moved on to Launchy (or something similar) instead to accomplish the same thing. While this workaround isn't completely worthless, it does suffer from major drawbacks. First, it requires users to right click on links and then to click on launchy, and then OpenOffice. That's far from intuitive, requires Launchy be installed on all systems users may connect with, and Launchy's xml config has to be customized for this to work. (Not to mention that customization may break when OO is updated to a newer version). The user is also required to enter a username and password every time they open a document, unless they keep a session of OO open in the background. Finally, this mechanism apparently circumvents the versioning system. That all combines to make this workaround pretty rough. I haven't researched Single-Sign-On yet, so the login drawback may have a solution, or possibly just more problems. :)

4. Mapping a Webdav Drive
This is apparently possible in Windows, however it's irrelevant to editing a document in the GUI. I think it was portrayed in some old posts as a solution, but Alfresco apparently no longer supports configuring the link type to CIFS. Both the old Web Folders component and the Mini Redirector are also apparently plagued by infuriating authentication bugs.

5. Configuring Webdav as a Protocol
Some users have suggested that registering webdav:// as a protocol would work, and in my opinion it probably would, but I don't have a clue how to get Alfresco to display it's links with a custom protocol. The governing bodies over the web also apparently have turned their nose at this approach, as they prefer to continue to extend the http protocol until it becomes self-aware. Therefore, the Alfresco team is probably not going to be on board with this technique. I think there is some work being done to define a new MIME type for Webdav instead.

6. Configuring Webdav link type in Alfresco
Even though some of the other issues mentioned are preventing this from working properly anyway, I haven't even been able to get the link type to actually change. I've tried changing the link type to
<edit-link-type>webdav</edit-link-type> 
in first what I understood was the suggested configuration file: /opt/alfresco-3.4.d/tomcat/shared/classes/alfresco/extension/web-client-config-custom.xml AND then the not-so-suggested file: /opt/alfresco-3.4.d/tomcat/webapps/alfresco/WEB-INF/classes/alfresco/web-client-config.xml - But neither changed the links to use the webdav path after I restarted Alfresco. I must have done something completely wrong here, as I haven't noticed any complaints about that part not working.

Sorry for the length, and thanks for taking the time. I would appreciate any updated info / or corrections to my comments.

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