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System architecture

At the core of the Alfresco Community Edition system is a repository supported by a server that persists content, metadata, associations, and full text indexes. Programming interfaces support multiple languages and protocols upon which developers can create custom applications and solutions. Out-of-the-box applications provide standard solutions such as document management and records management.

The Alfresco Community Edition system is implemented in Java, which means that it can run on most servers that can run the Java Standard Edition. The platform components have been implemented using the Spring framework, which provides the ability to modularize functionality, such as versioning, security, and rules. The platform provides a scripting environment to simplify adding new functionality and developing new programming interfaces. This portion of the architecture is known as Web Scripts and can be used for both data and presentation services. The lightweight architecture is easy to download, install, and deploy.

Ultimately, Alfresco Community Edition is used to implement ECM solutions, such as document management and records management. There can also be elements of collaboration and search across these solutions.

A content management solution is typically divided into clients and a server. The clients offer users a user interface to the solution and the server provides content management services and storage. Solutions commonly offer multiple clients against a shared server, where each client is tailored for the environment in which it is used.

Clients

Alfresco Community Edition offers a web-based client called Alfresco Share, built entirely with the web script technology. Share provides content management capabilities with simple user interfaces, tools to search and browse the repository, content such as thumbnails and associated metadata, previews, and a set of collaboration tools such as wikis and discussions. Share is organized as a set of sites that can be used as a meeting place for collaboration. It's a web-based application that can be run on a different server to the server that runs the platform with repository, providing opportunities to increase scale and performance.

Alfresco has offered the Share web client for a long time. However, if a content management solution requires extensive customization to the user interface, which most do, then it is not recommended to customize Share. Develop instead a custom client with the Alfresco Application Development Framework (ADF), which is Angular based.

Clients also exist for mobile platforms, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Office, and the desktop. In addition, users can share documents through a network drive via WebDAV.

Server

The content application server comprises a content repository and value-added services for building solutions.

The content application server provides the following categories of services built upon the content repository:
  • Content services (node management, transformation, tagging, metadata extraction)
  • Control services (workflow, records management, change sets)
  • Collaboration services (calendar, activities, wiki)

Clients communicate with the content application server and its services through numerous supported protocols. HTTP and SOAP offer programmatic access while FTP, WebDAV, IMAP, and Microsoft SharePoint protocols offer application access.

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