Opportunistic Alfresco

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Opportunistic Alfresco

Active Member II
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Great post from Jono at Ubuntu on making the Ubuntu platform better suited to opportunistic development, basically helping people who want to 'scratch an itch' but don't have the time or commitment to write an application in the traditional sense.

This is the first time I've come across a term for this sort of activity, but it describes very well what Apple have done so well with their app store, and what many of us hope Google may be about to do better.

The faster development cycle afforded with open source means that such an environment is much better suited in theory to rapid application development than proprietary platforms, but it does require the necessary infrastructure to be in place.

I've been having thoughts recently on how we could better support this type of development within Alfresco. Like the iPhone and like Ubuntu, Alfresco is much more than just a product, it's a solid platform for others to develop on.

In our case the building blocks are the web scripts and Surf frameworks that we recently fed back up into Spring, and the delivery mechanism could easily be provided by the Share UI.

Share already allows developers to define self-contained bits of functionality as dashlets, and also provides mechanisms to manage the configuration and display of these dashlets within the application. That's 90% of our intrastructure already there.

The missing 10% is a mechanism by which developers can publish these extensions to make them available for others, basically a distibution channel, or if you must, an app store.

This is why I've started spec'ing out what I'm tentatively calling Share Components, to provide a directory of Share extensions and an easy mechanism for users to query such directories (note, plural) and install components from them onto their own Alfresco systems.

I'm making it very clear that this is a proposed feature for Share but nonetheless it's one that I firmly believe is critical to ensuring that others - including our partners and others in the wider community - are able to join up their opportunistic dots using the Alfresco platfom.