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Is it really going to take away everything??? :( :(

WebTop or D2?? The question which has got every Documentum architect and solution analyst scratching their head, perhaps the better question that should be posed is Customization or Configuration?? The answer to this would depend upon, to which side the ball is thrown. If it is to developers, of course the answer would be "customization" as it provides them an opportunity to show the strength of coding, in delivering what is just a thought of customer. Which is justified as long as the customer is satisfied, and their expectation are delivered within time and in a cost effective manner.



On the contrary customers would definitely love to go for Configuration, and why not when there are products like D2 working for empowerment of the users. With D2 putting almost all the control/configuration in the users hands, and hence the new term for users heard more often than not, "Power User". Which makes sense, as almost everything which required customization previously, can now be implemented via configuration- simply involving a few ticks on a spread sheet.


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At first it does seem to be a setback for current developers, having all the knowledge of configuring and customizing the WebTop, the ability to visualize the real world needs and the confidence to deliver anything and everything, in the solution. But does D2 really take away everything from developers and give it in the hand of customers?


Let us analyze the situation:- 

Customization (WebTop) no doubt, has stood the test of time, whether it is a minor menu option implementation, to completely new functionality, developed in isolation and then integrated later on. This has surely satisfied users, with their needs being implemented as required. It is this reason why D2 will never be considered as the replacement of WebTop.

But still there are a few aspects, which need to be taken with a pinch of salt as far as customization is concerned. The following deserves consideration before taking a decision on configuration versus customization.

1.   Over customization: - Surely there is no way to identify this stage of the solution, and it is realized only when a limitation in the product is encountered and there is no fall back option. But the idea here is to make solution reach perfection, as far as the needs of the users are concerned.

2.   The customizations avert streamlined migration of the solution from one release to another. The greater the customization, the harder upgrade becomes.

3.   Support of the solution: - There are instances wherein the solution requires a root cause analysis by the product company, customization makes these analysis a tough task to handle, hence prolonging the resolution of the issue. Or a customization might invalidate the warranty and support.

4.   Poor quality customization creates an additional stress for deployment, upgrade and support of solution. It may be rejected by the end user.

5.   Last but not the least customization comes with a cost of ownership, related risks and downstream effects.


Now let's flip the coin and see what is there on the other side, Documentum D2, based on the mantra to ensure that the "power" relies with users, which is quite comprehensible, as they are the people who know business and their needs the best. This power includes not only the ability to configure their solution but also to have an intuitive user experience, which has made the long awaited goal of WebTop personalization possible.


D2 is considered to be a game changer, a product that will change the perception of user community, about content applications. The product is considered as more of a purpose- centric solution rather than a content-centric one like WebTop, following the below equation


Purpose-centric= Content centric + comfort/ease/personalized execution of the solution.


Hence eliminating the stress out from the solution execution and making it more of a fun activity. 


As D2 is not yet explored much it would be a good idea to have a deeper dive into the architecture of the latest version, to find out what it really offers, how the transition of power to users is going to take place and more importantly, is there really nothing left for developers?? L  




               Documentum D2ver 4.1 Architecture 


Reviewing the architecture a few things are clear- D2 has an edge over WebTop as far as performance is concerned. This enhanced performance is due to the use of GWT based browser related communication. The use of widgets has a not only contributed to the performance, by providing an alternative to complete HTML page reloading (now it is a part of the page i.e. the concerned widget only) during navigation, but also has given the capability of personalizing the UI.


A few important features of Documentum D2 are:-

1.   D2 permits extending the widget set beyond those present out of the box, using Google Gadgets, allowing access to external content and applications such as calculators, calendar, maps, weather and social media accounts

2.   Allows a way to integrate custom webapp or widgets (charts, graphs etc.) with the internal widgets, retrieving live data from docbase using DFC API and DQL.

3.   D2 allows different themes to be applied for workspaces, defining the consistent appearance combination, with color settings for tabs, headers, widgets and background.

4.   D2 supports the most popular browsers such as Firefox, IE, Google Chrome and Safari, providing greater cross browser compatibility.

5.   It provides a very strong feature of cross repository (repositories registered with the same docbroker) search, in a single operation.

6.   Advanced auditing, workflow and lifecycle capabilities all configurable to content and user type.

7.   Configurable metadata and import screens for document types.

8.   Simple and advanced search made catered through configurable search screens and search forms.

9.   Documentum D2 + Pack provide add on utility for MS Office documents, PDF configuration and Outlook metadata synching with repository.

10.  Brava Integration is another advanced feature supported by D2.

11.  Xplore Integration with the use of facets, full text search with relevance, Kerberos support and customer SSO API. 

12.  Programmable button, which can be programmed for suitable business requirements.


Ah!!  it means it's not all over for us. I see the hope from the second (also first) point which talks about external/custom widgets, with product already supporting the bidirectional communication/integration between the external and internal widgets and D2FS, which is an extremely important and powerful aspect of the product, yet to be explored by developers. These two aspects, will lay the foundation of a new era in content management application experience.

Looking forward this would really be an awesome experience, not only for users but for developers as well. And it is to the product company that they have kept the product extension options open. So it is not all taken away from developers. At least as far as I understand the customer's psychology sooner than later there will be needs/demands, which will definitely require the extension of the product, and developers will be in action. JJ


Great read Amit! Yes, I agree, there will always be a requirement for some level of customisation, as a product is never 100% fit for purpose. The preference should always be configure first and then customise for critical (Must Have) functionality where no alternative exists. D2 is a huge improvement (and much needed) over the dated/cumbersome WebTop GUI.

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