Enhancing Alfresco Share with HPI 2.1 – Document Processing

TSG will be conducting a Webinar with Alfresco on February 11 (Recording Posted) on how to enhance or extend Alfresco Share with HPI 2.1.  This post is the third in a series of posts on how HPI 2.1 can work with Share and will focus on Document Processing.

Alfresco Share – Preview and All Capabilities

Alfresco Share, like Alfresco Explorer and other ECM interface tools, is required to fit a wide variety of document management scenarios.  To fit these scenarios as well as demonstrate complete enterprise content management functions for new clients, Share needs to provide a robust document processing interface depicted below.

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Some notes about the Share document interface:

  • Preview – the preview window works great for common document formats.
  • Document Actions – all ECM capabilities are easily available for the experienced user
  • Share Link  and Properties displayed easily
  • Workflow kickoff capabilities
  • Ability to add comments to the document itself

Mature Alfresco users have often found that, while a full-featured interface is great for the high-end user, often times the use by inexperienced business users may result in:

  • Inefficient Indexing – Since users have the flexibility and are required to pick document type, security and properties, users have to index all the required fields, something that could be time consuming and error-prone.
  • Inconsistent Document Processing – Users want basic type, security and metadata choices made for them based on the business process.  When a variety of choices are presented to the user, it is very typical for user’s to be inconsistent with each other.
  • Increased Training – to make sure users know what features to access within the business process.

HPI Approach – Process Driven Documents

HPI takes a process driven approach to allow for certain functions against document types to be configured as part of the business process.  Some of the unique components that differentiate HPI Document Processing from Share include:

  • Trac – HPI allows an administrator to configure a “trac” for a certain user group.  The trac would be represented by a user group like Accounts Payable or Legal.  A trac can group folder and document types and can limit the user to only creating certain types of folders or storing certain document types and properties that apply to that business process.  In this manner, the document types and index fields are limited to only those allowed in the trac.  Also, the documents will can have attributes that are automatically inherited from the parent folder when added to the folder.  This approach reduces the amount of user index keying and errors.  Example could include a Vendor # that is available at the folder level but also on each document to assist in document retrieval by vendor across folders.
  • Document Rendition Display – As stated in our first post, HPI relies on all documents being converted to PDF to only display PDF documents quickly.  While this will necessitate additional storage requirements, our clients have found the consistency of quickly viewing images with the ability to print worth the extra storage cost.  PDFs also allow for watermarks, header/footer and other PDF manipulation, something we do with our OpenOverlay product.
  • Side by Side Viewing – One major benefit of HPI is the display of the document actions as icons (with hover details) in the small space above the document.  Saving the space allows for efficient side by side viewing of documents for making comparisons to existing documents.
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  • Document Actions – Document actions are filtered (and reduced) based on the state of the document within the business process as well as the role of the user.  For example, a document that is in an approval workflow is not available for properties modification or check-in/check-out for the average user.
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  • Annotate Document – allows users to easily annotate without additional plug-ins.  OpenAnnotate is a browser based annotation tool that stores annotations in Alfresco with in the PDF format in the repository.  This function is not available in an out of the box Share installation.
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  • Property Display – One major feature different from Share that HPI exposes is the ability to view and edit document metadata while viewing the document contents.  Only those attributes that are applicable to the user/role/business process are presented to the user.  HPI leverages configuration to make drop down lists and other property entry more reliable.
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  • Email Document –allow users to send emails directly from the folder with the selected document attached and store the email in the folder itself and documented in the folder notes.  This allows users to have the history on correspondence in the folder as well as avoid dragging and dropping emails from their Sent file on their email client.
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  • Document Alerts –  users can alert other users in an ad-hoc fashion to address issues with a particular document.  This is a small workflow that can be done in Share but isn’t always intuitive.  Users can notify others to either the Folder itself or a specific document for review.


HPI Document processing gives Alfresco clients the ability to automate business actions and reduce user decisions and errors commonly found with a “do all” user interface like Share.  Business users benefit from a simplified interface with extended functionality highlighting what the user should be doing rather than overwhelming the user with options that should rarely be used with the business process.

Look for our next blog post on Workflow.

Previous Post #1: Search and Document Display

Previous Post #2: Folder Processing

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