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Access protocols

Alfresco Content Services supports a number of different protocols for accessing the content repository. Their availability extends the options available to developers, when building their own applications and extensions.

Protocols provide developers with another possible avenue for building their own applications and extensions. For example, if you are building a client application to connect with multiple repositories from multiple vendors, including Alfresco Content Services, then CMIS is a consideration. If you are building a client to connect via the SharePoint Protocol, then use the Alfresco Office Services (AOS). Protocols provide a resource for developers, in addition to the numerous other extension points and APIs built into Alfresco.

When any of these protocols are used to access or upload content to the repository, access control is always enforced based on configured permissions, regardless of what protocol that is used.

The following table list some of the main protocols supported by Alfresco Content Services and links to more detailed documentation.

Protocol Description Support Status
HTTP The main protocol used to access the repository via for example the ReST APIs. Standard in Alfresco Content Services and Community Edition.
WebDAV Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning is a set of HTTP extensions that lets you manage files collaboratively on web servers. It has strong support for authoring scenarios such as locking, metadata, and versioning. Many content production tools, such as the Microsoft Office suite, support WebDAV. Additionally, there are tools for mounting a WebDAV server as a network drive. Standard in Alfresco Content Servicesand Community Edition.
FTP File Transfer Protocol - standard network protocol for file upload, download and manipulation. Useful for bulk uploads and downloads. Standard in Alfresco Content Services and Community.
Alfresco Office Services Alfresco Office Services (AOS) allow you to access Alfresco Content Services directly from all your Microsoft Office applications. Standard in Alfresco Content Services and Community Edition.
CMIS Alfresco fully implements both the CMIS 1.0 and 1.1 standards to allow your application to manage content and metadata in an on-premise repository. Standard in Alfresco Content Services and Community Edition.
IMAP Internet Message Access Protocol - allows access to email on a remote server. Alfresco Content Services can present itself as an email server, allowing clients such as Microsoft Outlook, Thunderbird, Apple Mail and other email clients to access the content repository, and manipulate folders and files contained there. IMAP supports three modes of operation:
  1. Archive: allows email storage in the repository by using drag/drop and copy/paste from the IMAP client
  2. Virtual: folders and files held in the repository are exposed as emails within the IMAP client with the ability to view metadata and trigger actions using links embedded in the email body
  3. Mixed: a combination of both archive and virtual
Standard in Alfresco Content Services and Community Edition.
SMTP It is possible to email content into the repository (InboundSMTP). A folder can be dedicated as an email target. Standard in Alfresco Content Services and Community Edition.

All the protocol bindings expose folders and documents held in the repository. This means a client tool accessing the repository using the protocol can navigate through folders, examine properties, and read content. Most protocols also permit updates, allowing a client tool to modify the folder structure, create and update documents, and write content. Some protocols also allow interaction with capabilities such as version histories, search, and tasks.

Internally, the protocol bindings interact with the repository services, which encapsulate the behavior of working with folders and files. This ensures a consistent view and update approach across all client tools interacting with the content application server.

A subsystem for file servers allows configuration and lifecycle management for each of the protocols either through property files or JMX.

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