Alfresco DevCon 2019
This year the Conference was celebrated in Edinburgh from 28th to 31st of January. The agenda was very similar to previous editions, with a Hack-a-thon day followed by two days of sessions.
More details on the program available at https://devcon.alfresco.com/
This year we were collaborating in a great team, composed by Alfresco Engineers like Michael Suzuki and Nick Burch, and community guys like Charles Le Seac’h, Matteo Mazzola and Sam Cheshire.
Our project, named Sentiment Analysis, is available at https://github.com/Alfresco/SentimentAnalysis
We built a simple REST API based in Spring Boot to test the same sentences using both engines. And also an Alfresco integration developed with the new Alfresco SDK 4 to perform a happiness measure of the documents.
I enjoyed very much the experience. Thanks to Michael for proposing such a nice topic for the project!
There were about 50 hackers coding during the session and collaborating in different topics:
- Integrating with Alexa
- Development by using the new Alfresco SDK 4 and the Yeoman Generator
- Reducing the size of Docker images for Alfresco Deployment
- Providing new testing and developing tools with Dynamic Java Code execution live
- Extending ADF with alien components and Electron
- GraphQL notifications for Activiti Cloud Trending Campaign
You can find all the teams and project results at https://community.alfresco.com/docs/DOC-8064-projects-and-teams-hack-a-thon-at-devcon-2019
The sessions were delivered by around 60 speakers, including Lightning Sessions (5 minutes) and Regular Talks (30 to 45 minutes).
John Newton started the conference with an opening session around Alfresco strategy, what relies on:
- Process-First Digital Operations
- Global-scale, Multi-Cloud Digital Operations
- Apply Artificial Intelligence
- Empower Business Users in Digital Operations
- Accelerate Building and Deploying Digital Solutions
Alfresco is working on a True Cloud Native Architecture for the last two years or so, and John provided simple box diagram to identify the main goals of the architecture.
He also reviewed a “Confidential and Subject to Change” roadmap for the product, where next and following features show that Alfresco is targeting a more consolidated offer to deploy the platform in Cloud, empowering content with AI technologies and unifying both user and developer experience with the different components.
A detailed component view was provided by George Parapadakis, who talked about Alfresco roadmap in detail just after John session.
Bernadette Nixon, Chief Executive Officer in Alfresco, attended the conference to support officially the Community of Developers. She was interviewed by Brian Remmington and answered some questions from the audience. There was nothing relevant on her replies from a technical perspective, but she remarked every strategic theme from John Newtons’s session.
Although it was not possible to cover every session, we can gather some headlines for the different parts of the product:
- Repository features are being split into micro services, including simple Spring Boot micro service applications or queue based micro services using ActiveMQ. Due to Oracle change of policies regarding the JVM, Alfresco is starting to support OpenJDK 11 from Alfresco 6.1.
- Share is here to stay. Despite it was announced in the past months that Share will be removed from the product, now the message is that the web application will be maintained and supported for years. Anyway this platform will not receive new features, like integration with Alfresco Identification Services based in Keycloak.
- ADF has released version 3, what includes for the first time some extensibility features for developers. Additionally, Alfresco Content Application (ACA) and Alfresco Digital Workspace (ADW) are being evolved and consolidated as base web applications for Community and Enterprise editions.
- Search and Insight Engine Service was missing from the sessions, but the team is working to provide JDBC connectors for BI applications and NLP features.
- Transformer Service has been separated from Repository for version 6.1. This service provides a scalable micro service architecture based in ActiveMQ with engines like Tika, PDF Renderer, ImageMagick and LibreOffice. Other engines, like the current Document Transformation Engine based in Microsoft Office, are still to come.
- Alfresco Identity Services is a new SSO for every component and service in Alfresco Platform. Currently it’s just only a soft overlay of Keycloak providing OAuth authentication mechanisms.
- Governance Services is still based in Share, but the team is working to provide a more coherent UI in line with all the other services. It was also mentioned, that they are working to include some Blockchain features to the product.
- Activiti, what is still in Beta status, had more presence in the conference than last years. The new Modeler application, compatible in some points with current APS application, was presented also in a beta status. The main concerns of the Community related to this great product are about the path to migrate from Alfresco Embedded Activiti and APS to this new paradigm without starting everything from scratch.
- Development has been recently improved with the release of Alfresco SDK 4.0, supporting both Alfresco 6.0 & 6.1 versions. In the conference was also presented the new Alfresco Builder Network, a web page including all required information for developers gathering the information from different sources. Additionally, Sergiu Vidrascu, provided a starting point to show how developing in the platform with real Kubernetes Clusters.
- Deployment was also a hot topic during the conference. Since old-fashioned installer was removed in version 6, deploying Alfresco has become more complex for newcomers. Also Kubernetes deployment based in Helm charts is being evolved to provide support in other platforms besides Amazon. It was also interesting to discover how Lead Security Operations Toni de la Fuente is orchestrating the security in the containers.
Also worth to mention the new paradigm approach for extending the repository taught by Jeff Potts in his session Moving from Actions and Behaviours to Microservices.
The slides from our sessions is available at:
- Upgrading to Alfresco 6, the Short History of the Long Road
- 10 Tips Every New Developer in Alfresco Should Know
- How to Write Alfresco Addons that Last Forever
Thanks to everyone attending our sessions and also to the people that got in touch with me to discuss about blog posts, addons and other Alfresco features.
We were also hosting sessions and introducing other relevant speakers like:
- Transforming Transformers for ACS 6.1 and Beyond by Jan Vonka
- PostgreSQL Holds the Rhythm of Alfresco Platform by Boriss Mejías
Additionally, we participated in Hack-a-thon showcase providing a real demo on Sentiment Analysis NLP tools and as panel member in the session Collaborate with Alfresco.
All sessions were recorded, voice and video, and it will be published in the following weeks by Alfresco. The process to convert the raw material in “YouTube ready” is not that easy, so be patient!
Finally, our talk “Upgrading to Alfresco 6” and David Webster’s “A Road from Share to ADF” were awarded as the most attended sessions. This makes clearer what are main concerns currently in Alfresco Community.
From a Community perspective, despite the bee logo included in every Order of the Bee member presentation, I found many different people coming from partners, Activiti Community and users that are not consolidated on a collaborating environment but that worked like independent entities. Probably this is the way this have to work, as there are not common interests nowadays for these groups.
305 attendees is the highest count for a DevCon, so Alfresco Team can be proud with the Conference. I want to mention explicitly to Kristen Gastaldo and Francesco Corti, both are engaging developers thought the year and they made a tough work to organise the event.
Also to mention some people that missed the conference due to personal reasons, like Richard Esplin and Ole Heljskov. We missed you!
Alfresco is consolidating its Cloud Native Architecture approach, including more and more components in a platform that is the first aligned with the next business and technical requirements. Alfresco DevCon is the right place to be in touch with both technology and people. So, if you missed this year’s event, be prepared for the next one!