I’m pleased to announce the arrival of a number of significant improvements to the UI framework in Alfresco Share. It will be part of the next Alfresco 4.2 Community and Enterprise releases and is available now in HEAD SVN to try out. Rather than trying to explain all of the details in a single blog post I’m going to start by just going over the concepts of what we’re trying to achieve. Over the coming weeks I’ll be posting more information explaining how it all works and how you’ll be able to make use of it.
Our ultimate aim is to provide a library of widgets that can be easily assembled into a web application for accessing an Alfresco repository. We didn’t want to replace Share but we needed a way to migrate away from the original implementation (based around the Surf paradigms of Templates, Components and WebScripts) towards something faster to develop and easier to customize.
This is summary of what we wanted to achieve:
Provide a library of fine-grained, decoupled widgets that completely encapsulate all of their function, styling and localization behaviour
For those widgets to be easily unit testable across multiple browsers
To be able to dynamically build pages both for and within the running UI and render them without restarting any servers
To provide a foundation for our business partners and customers to build their own solutions on
Building on Previous Work
All of these features are leveraged in the improvements and we believe it will make it easier to produce faster, more reliable pages and in less time for the Alfresco Share and the Alfresco in the Cloud web applications. The improvements build on top of Dojo and provide (with the greatest of respect to the Dojo developers) a couple of significant enhancements…
When you render a web you are normally expected to take care of the styling via separately referenced CSS files (for example you might import a theme style sheet for the framework that you are using). We’re taking a different approach.
At Alfresco we believe in using the right tool for the job. Although Share was originally built using YUI2 we have also introduced JQuery plugins and we have no intention of restricting Share to just Dojo. The framework is designed to easily support widgets provided by other libraries and by design we can easily swap out Dojo widgets for those provided by other libraries. We have also provided a mechanism for wrapping our existing YUI2 centric widgets to that they can be referenced in the JSON model for the page. If you go to the Calendar of any Site you’ll see YUI2, JQuery and Dojo all playing nicely together.
Mighty Oaks and Little Acorns
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