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Considerations when using Alfresco Office Services

Use this information to understand some of the dependencies that you might encounter when using Alfresco Office Services (AOS).

  • AOS relies on SSL to allow communication with the Alfresco repository:
    • You must activate SSL when using Alfresco Office Services 1.2. For more information, see Configuring SSL.
    • If you are using a proxy server to handle SSL, make sure that the proxy is not filtering requests to Alfresco. For more information on proxy SSL configurations, see Configuring SSL in a production environment.
    • There are some limitations when using the Alfresco external authentication subsystem. External authentication can work well when using a web browser client, but not when using the MS Office client. This is because no authentication information is sent with the file URL, and MS Office does not store authentication information, so starts a new authentication process.

      An example of this is when using CAS. CAS authenticates using an HTML form and a web browser that follows an HTTP redirect. The web authentication works correctly, but MS Office authentication will not work because it does not permit completion of the form. This problem is caused by the limited set of authentication protocols that MS Office supports.

      MS Office supports the following authentication mechanisms:
      • HTTP Basic
      • HTTP Digest
      • NTLM
      • Kerberos
      NTLM and Kerberos can be used in an SSO environment.
    • There is limited support for AOS with Microsoft Office for Mac. It is a known problem that there is no property mapping function in Microsoft Office for Mac.
  • AOS is installed by default during the standard Alfresco installation:
    • If you are installing the Alfresco repository manually, you'll need to install the Alfresco Office Services AMP file. See the guidance in Installing an Alfresco Module Package for installing an AMP file.
    • If you have a custom application that is running at the server root directory, it is important that you merge the _vti_inf.html and index.jsp files into this application to enable AOS. For more information, see Installing Alfresco into an existing web application.
  • AOS interacts very closely with Microsoft Office, and there are some implications as a result:
    • Alfresco simulates a SharePoint Site in the /alfresco/aos directory and uses the child folder to represent the SharePoint document library. As a result, Office does not check out documents in the repository root; that is, if your document is located in /alfresco/aos. Make sure that you add a child folder in the /alfresco/aos directory and place documents there. For example:
      http://localhost:8080/alfresco/aos/documents/doc1.docx
    Alfresco and Office handle property mapping and time values differently:
    • Alfresco and Microsoft use different mechanisms to calculate Daylight Saving Time (DST). In Alfresco, DST is applied to dates; for example, a time in August is displayed in DST, but a time in November is displayed without DST. Microsoft applies DST to all dates depending on the current date. For example, if today is in August, the time values of all dates are displayed in DST, even a time in November. This means that if you are looking at a date six months away, there is a one-hour difference between the time value displayed by Alfresco and the time displayed in Microsoft Office. This mechanism is used across Microsoft products; for example, the same behaviour is visible in the last modified timestamp in Windows Explorer.
    • Date values are represented by Microsoft Office and Alfresco as DateTime values with the time zeroed out (for example, 03.09.2014 00:00:00). After applying time zone conversion to this value, the date might change to the previous or next day. For example, if you are storing 03.09.2014 00:00:00 in UTC+2 and then reading the value in UTC-1.
    • If mapped properties are embedded into an OOXML file (e.g. a .docx file), time values are displayed in the user's timezone. Properties embedded into OLE files (e.g. .doc files) are displayed in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
    • There are known issues with decimal numeric values (float and double) in non-English versions of certain Office products and if Office runs with a non-English regional setting.

    See Troubleshooting AOS to resolve any other issues you might have.

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