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Getting started with customizations

Question asked by jaspervlb on May 20, 2013
Latest reply on May 22, 2013 by jaspervlb

I would like to customize alfresco share for my organisation. I've already been able to do some "standard" customizations by reading topics on several forums and blogs. Many thanks to the authors of those.

Now I'am arriving to the more specific customizations for my needs and I was trying to get along by myself but it proves to be very hard.
I was wondering if I could get a clear explanation of how share is built. What happens where and what is the function of each specific file. I've found bits and pieces everywhere. Outdated stuff and so on… Could someone give me a clear explanation? Pointers to the links I have missed. Or give an explanation that pastes the bits and pieces I have together.

For instance you have ".get.html.ftl" files, ".get.js" files, ".js" files, xml and so on…
I've read things about Freemarker, Surf, serverside javascript, clientside javascript, javabeans…how do these all connect together. Which files use which files? What connects them?
What makes a component different from a module?

Another practical question: I was trying to customize sites.get.js (of the header module). To understand what the script was doing I tried to include "window.alert" statements. However this did not work. Share told me he could not load the template module. I figured the javascript was executed server-side. How can I debug these scripts in a handy way? (and the other files used?)

I tried to keep my questions quite general. I will post my specific questions in seperate threads. I hope this thread can be like a general starting point for other people.

Thank you for your responses!

PS: I have a background in software engineering. I know javascript from making websites in php and html 10 years ago. Freemarker, json, surf, rest however are all new to me.