Content Model Extension Point

Defining a custom content model for the repository is a fundamental task in almost every content management project. It will allow you to build a robust system with content that can be classified, searched, structured, and processed in many different ways.

Architecture Information: Platform Architecture


One of the main differences between a network drive and a Content Management System (CMS) is that the latter provides extra classification features. If you look at a CMS behind the scenes, you can see that everything in the repository is typically a node (a node is also sometimes referred to as an object). Properties are then set on the nodes so they become folders, files, categories, rules, forums, web pages, e-mails, people, groups, and so on.

Classifying nodes makes performing operations on them more precise, so it is easier to search for them, so they can be displayed in the user interface correctly, and node-specific operations can be carried out. The properties that can be used to classify nodes (content), cannot be selected at random, as then the system would not know what each one of these properties represents. Because of this a content management system usually comes preconfigured with properties that can be used to classify content in the repository. These properties are usually organized into two groups called Types and Aspects. The main difference between types and aspects is that a node can only have one type applied but it can have multiple aspects applied.

Nodes are not isolated within the repository. They are related to one another in different ways. How the nodes are related to each other is defined using Associations. A typical association that comes out-of-the-box with Content Services is the one between a folder node and its child nodes, this type of association is a child-association. So when you start using Content Services you can immediately organize folders and files into a hierarchy, like with a file system.

The Types, Aspects, Properties, and Associations are in turn organized into models that we call Content Models. Content Services comes with a number of Content Models out of the box for different things like general folder and file content, workflow-related content, records content, web content, and so on.

It is also useful to be able to create content models related to specific domains such as Finance or Marketing. As the type of content that may be stored in the repository can vary, generic standard content models are provided that provide a basis on which to build custom content models for domain-specific purposes.

New types and aspects are defined forming new custom content models. But how do you know how to specify a type and a property with, for example, a data type integer? Content Services also comes with a Meta Model. The Meta model defines what syntax you can use when defining your content models. It will, for example, define the syntax for how a type or an integer property should be defined. The following diagram gives a simplified overview of the relationship between meta model, content models, and custom content models:


In the image, you can see two nodes in the repository: one folder node and one ACME Contract document node. The Contract type extends the ACME Generic Document type, or base type if you like, which in turn extends the generic Content type. The Contract document node also has versioning turned on by having the Versionable aspect applied.

Both the custom content model and the Content Services content model is defined by the Data Dictionary Schema, which is the same as the Meta Model.

Content models, types, aspects, and properties are similar to object-oriented concepts in programming. If you are familiar with object-oriented modelling, then the concepts of content modelling should feel familiar.

The meta model contains the constructs or syntax that can be used to define content models, which are defined in XML.

Important: It is possible to create custom content models from the Alfresco Share UI without the need to use XML. These models can then be exported as XML and included in a build project. See the Content modeling with Model Manager for further information.

For detailed instructions on how to implement content models, see the define and deploy section. When you have defined and deployed a content model you would want to be able to work with it from the Share UI, see the configure UI section for more information around this.

Defining and Deploying

Defining a custom content model involves creating an XML file. The model is then deployed with a Spring bean. Localized labels for the content model items can also be part of the deployment.

Now when you have read the Content Model Introduction it is time to define and deploy a content model. If you have already done this and are looking for information about how to configure the Share UI for a content model, then have a look at this section.

To define a new content model means to add an XML file to the repository. This can be done via a bootstrapping procedure, shown below, or dynamically via the user interface. If you are running an Enterprise edition it is also possible to manage content models from the Admin Console. At the end of this article you will find information about where this XML file should be located in an SDK project and where it should be located in a standard installation.

A new custom content model starts with, you guessed it, a model element definition, which is the container for all other definitions as follows :

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<model name="acme:contentModel" xmlns="">
   <description>Content model for the fictional company ACME</description>
   <author>Martin Bergljung</author>

The order in which these elements are specified is important. It will not work to specify them in any other order than in this example. This is because in the meta model they are defined within a <xs:sequence> element. This is true throughout the model schema so be careful to always use the elements in the right order.

The imports definition is the container for import definitions of other content models referred to by the model being defined:

    <!-- Import Alfresco Dictionary Definitions -->
    <import uri="" prefix="d"/>
    <!-- Import Alfresco System Model Definitions -->
    <import uri="" prefix="sys"/>
    <!-- Import Alfresco Content Domain Model Definitions -->
    <import uri="" prefix="cm"/>

This example imports the Data Dictionary model with all the data-type definitions, such as d:text. It also imports the system model with types such as base, descriptor, container, reference, and aspects such as referenceable and temporary. Finally you import the generic content model (cm) with types such as content (files) and folder and aspects such as versionable and dublincore.

As you can imagine, it is important to get familiar with the out-of-the-box content models so you don’t start defining types and aspects that are already available. And it’s also important to get familiar with existing models to avoid clashing with namespaces and prefixes used by those.

The namespaces definition is the container for all new custom namespace definitions that will be used by this model:

   <namespace uri="" prefix="acme"/>

This example defines the namespace for the new content model to All definitions done in the model will be prefixed with acme. Any new name (referred to as local name) defined in the model for things like types, aspects, properties, etc. need to be unique. You could also define more than one namespace to be used in the model, such as in the following example:

   <namespace uri="" prefix="acmec"/>
   <namespace uri="" prefix="acmew"/>

Here, you have defined one namespace acmec that will be used for document content classification and another namespace acmew that will be used exclusively for workflow-related content. You could have the same local name in both these namespaces, such as acmec:project and acmew:project.

A good idea is to use the following format for the URI:

http://<company domain address>/model/[content|workflow|...]/1.0

The constraints definition is the container for all new constraints to be used by the properties defined in the custom model. There are different types of constraints:

  • LIST = property value must match an entry in the list
  • REGEXP = property value must match the regular expression
  • MIN-MAX = property value must be numeric and within this range
  • LENGTH = property value must be a string and within min and max length
  • java class = a custom constraint implementation in the form of a Java class

The following is an example definition of a LIST constraint:

   <constraint name="acme:securityClassificationOptions" type="LIST">
      <parameter name="allowedValues">
                <value></value> <!-- Empty for default search -->
                <value>Client Confidential</value>
                <value>Company Confidential</value>
                <value>Strictly Confidential</value>

The following is a LENGTH constraint example:

   <constraint name="acme:summary" type="LENGTH">
      <parameter name="minLength">
      <parameter name="maxLength">

And here is an example of a MINMAX constraint:

   <constraint name="acme:percentage" type="MINMAX">
      <parameter name="minValue">
      <parameter name="maxValue">

A regular expression (REGEXP) constraint looks like this:

   <constraint name="acme:contractIdFormat" type="REGEX">
      <parameter name="expression">
      <parameter name="requiresMatch">

Finally, you can define custom constraint implementations by supplying a Java class with the implementation. Here is an example from the out-of-the-box generic content model (contentModel.xml):

   <constraint name="cm:userNameConstraint" type="org.alfresco.repo.dictionary.constraint.UserNameConstraint" />

Being able to implement your own constraints is useful as it is common to want to set a property from a dynamic list of values, such as a ‘project name’. It might not be possible to use a static LIST constraint for project names as new projects might be created frequently. And you do not want users to type in the project name manually as then you might get more than one version of the project name present in the repository, making search unpredictable.

These constraints will have an effect on what controls and validation that are generated for the user interface (that is for the Share user interface).

The types definition is the container for all new custom type definitions. A type models an object in the specific domain that your are implementing a content management solution for. This could be for example a project, marketing document, engineering drawing, software manual, legal case, book, chapter and so on. Remember also that an item (node) in the repository, such as a file or a folder, can only be assigned one type.

Here are a couple of examples of how to define new types:

        ACME Enterprise-wide Document root type.
        All other custom document types should extend this one.
    <type name="acme:document">
        <title>Base document type</title>
            <property name="acme:documentId">
                <title>Document Identification Number</title>

    <type name="acme:contract">
        <title>Contract document</title>
            <property name="acme:contractName">
                <title>Contract Name</title>
            <property name="acme:contractId">
                <title>Contract Identification Number</title>
                    <constraint ref="acme:contractIdFormat" />
    <!-- A folder can have this type applied to represent a project container. -->
    <type name="acme:project">
        <title>Project folder</title>
            <property name="acme:projectName">
            <property name="acme:projectDescription">
            <property name="acme:projectStartDate">
            <!-- Setup a child-association from the type folder to zero or more members.
                 Note. peer associations are not indexed and searchable, so using child-association instead.
            <child-association name="acme:projectMember">

Here you have first defined a base document type called acme:document that all your custom document types should extend. This is good practice as it allows you to search for all documents classified in some way as ACME documents, it will for example match the next type in the model called acme:contract, which extends the acme:document type. A base document type is also useful for keeping metadata that is applicable to all documents in the enterprise, such as some form of document identifier (that is acme:documentId) and security classification (that is acme:securityClassified).

Note how the base type extends the out-of-the-box type cm:content. All types that should be applied to files need to eventually extend this type, and it in turn extends the cm:cmobject type, which has properties such as cm:name (the name of the file or folder), cm:created, cm:creator, cm:modified, and cm:modifier. The last four properties belong to the cm:auditable aspect, which is mandatory on the cm:cmobject type. The auditable properties are managed by the system and when you for example upload a file the created date will be set to now, not to when the file was initially created.

Important: If you want the file to have the created date set to when the file was actually created, then you can use the Bulk Import tool, which turns off the automatic system management of these properties, and grabs the file metadata instead.

The last type that is defined is called acme:project and it extends the out-of-the-box type cm:folder, which extends the cm:cmobject type described previously. So you can actually use folders to represent objects such as a project, a legal case, or other “container” objects. Being able to classify folders according to a specific domain is particularly useful as you can then also create “auto-classifying” rules for the folder. These rules would classify any files dropped into the folder according to the folders type and properties. Which means that you get files automatically classified without the end-user having to fill anything in.

The following table explains the sub-elements of the type element (note that they are the same for an aspect):

Name Type Multiplicity Description
name attribute (string) required The name of the type including namespace and local name, such as acme:project
title element (string) [0..1] The title of the type, will be used in the user interface if there are no i18n resources available.
description element (string) [0..1] The description of the type, useful for documentation purposes.
parent element (string) [0..1] Reference to another type that this type extends. Single inheritance is supported. A type usually extends the out-of-the-box cm:content type if it should be applied to files uploaded to the repository, and cm:folder if it should be applied to new folders in the repository.
archive element (boolean) [0..1] true = content with this type should be archived when deleted. This means that it will end up in the Archive Store and it can be restored from the recycle bin. (default)

false = content with this type is not archived when deleted and is therefore permanently gone and can never be restored.
properties element container [0..1] Container for all custom properties that make up the metadata for this type.
associations element container [0..1] Container for all parent-child and peer associations for this type. Such as the acme:projectMember child association that has been defined for the cm:project type.
overrides element container [0..1] Property overrides of super type class properties. You can only override the default value, mandatory parameter, and constraints definitions for a property.

It is quite common to override type properties when working with workflow content models, such as in the following example:
<type name="scwf:activitiRevise">
      <property name="scwf:reviseOutcome">
            <constraint type="LIST">
               <parameter name="allowedValues">
      <property name="bpm:packageItemActionGroup">
      <property name="bpm:outcomePropertyName">

It is also common to do this for aspects. For example, the cm:titled aspect that is available out-of-the-box provides 2 properties to set the title and description for a node. These are non-mandatory properties.

If you wanted to always have these properties as mandatory on types, then you could define your own titled aspect as follows:

<aspect name="acme:titled">
       <property name="cm:title">
       <property name="cm:description">

As the custom acme:titled aspect extends the out of the box cm:titled aspect it will work in all searches done on cm:titled.

Name Type Multiplicity Description
mandatory-aspects element container [0..1] Mandatory aspects for this type. When content is created with this type applied, then these aspects will also be applied automatically.

The type properties, and also the aspect properties as we will see, play a central part of the content model definition as they depict the so called metadata that should be stored together with the file or the folder. Metadata is very important in a content management solution as it will determine what you can search on, create rules around, base policies on etc.

The following table describes all the parameters that can be used when defining a new property(metadata) for a type or aspect:

Name Type Multiplicity Description  
name attribute (string) required The name of the property. The name has to be unique between all types, aspects, constraints and so on that are defined in the namespace. It is different from object-oriented programming where a member variable of one class can be named the same as in another class.  
title element (string) [0..1] The title of the property. Will be used in the user interface as field label if there are no i18n resources available.  
description element (string) [0..1] The description of the property, useful for documentation purposes.  
type element (string) [1..1] Mandatory data type reference. This references a data-type definition in the dictionaryModel.xml content model. Here are some of the most commonly used data types: d:text, d:int, d:long, d:float, d:double, d:date, d:datetime, d:boolean, d:encrypted, d:noderef  
protected element (boolean) [0..1] true = this property cannot be edited after the value has been set. And it cannot be edited at all from the user interface (that is Alfresco Share). This is usually used for system properties such as cm:created, cm:creator. They are set by the system and can then not be touched. It is sometimes also used in custom content models to make a property read-only after it has been initially set via an API call.

false = the property can be updated as many times as you like. This is the default if this element is not specified.
mandatory element (boolean) [0..1] true = when a property is set as mandatory it tells Content Services that the property is required. By default, this is not enforced. Instead, Content Services marks content items with empty mandatory properties with the aspect sys:incomplete. This is done so that you can create items that have mandatory properties even if the value of the property is not known at the time of content creation, while still indicating that the property is required (eventually). Mandatory properties will have a * next to them in the UI.

false = it is optional and this is the default if this element is not specified.

The mandatory element can also have a boolean attribute called enforced. If this is set to true then you cannot create a node without this property having a value.

multiple element (boolean) [0..1] true = this property can have a list of values.

false = only one value can be entered and this is the default if this element is not specified.
default element (any) [0..1] Default value for this property if the user does not specify any value. The UI input field will be pre-populated with this value.  
index element [0..1] Solr/Lucene index configuration. The indexing behavior for each property can be configured. If we don’t configure any indexing behavior, then the default configuration is:

<index enabled="true">





Explanation of default index configuration:

enabled="true": index the value of the property. Setting this to false means that the property is not indexed at all and is not part of the index.

<atomic>true</atomic>: atomic is not used when Content Services uses Solr for search. The default value is there to allow the continued use of the built in Lucene indexing engine when customers don’t want to, or cannot, switch to Solr. With Solr the index is eventually up-to-date with the database (properties/metadata are stored in the database).

<stored>false</stored>: the property value is not stored in the index. This property is not used with Solr either, all fields are store in the new cached content store on the Solr side.

<tokenized>true</tokenized>: the property value is tokenized when it’s indexed, so if the value is “Company Confidential” it will be tokenized into two strings that will be indexed separately, which might not always be what you want. You can also use false, which will just tokenize the value as one item. Further on, it also possible to set it to both, which means that “Company Confidential”, “Company”, and “Confidential” will be in the index. The tokenizer is determined by the property type in the data dictionary. This is locale sensitive as supported by the data dictionary, so you could switch to tokenize all your content in for example German. You cannot mix for example German and English tokenization.

There is also another sub-element that can be specified for the index element. It is called facetable and controls the faceting behavior in Solr as follows:

<facetable>true</facetable>: property is set up properly in Solr for faceting and is really fast, ordered, and sorted.

<facetable>false</facetable>: property is not facetable, that is, you cannot create a facet from this property. In some cases it makes no sense to make a property facetable, for example if it is a unique property. Note that setting facetable to false will not save resources.

Unspecified as above (default): faceting works but not as fast and efficient as when this element is explicitly specified and set to true.
constraints element [0..1] Container for property constraints.  

The last thing that is defined in the model are the aspects. The definition of an aspect does not differ much from a type definition. In fact, in the schema they are both based on the same class definition. The main difference between an aspect and a type is that a content node can have multiple aspects applied to it but only one type applied to it. This is important to think about when you decide if you should use an aspect or a type in the model.

One way of deciding if a domain object should be modelled as a type or an aspect is to think about if it is a noun or a verb. For example, a Legal document could be modelled as a type and a CAD drawing could be modelled as a type. And it is quite clear that it does not make much sense to apply both the legal document type and the CAD drawing type to the same file content item. Now, both these types of documents could be emailed into the system and if we wanted to model that it would probably be best done with an aspect called for example emailed. You might also want to version both of these types of documents. So it make sense to have a versioned aspect. You could then apply both the versioned and emailed aspects to for example a Legal document.

Now, it is necessary to look at dealing with nouns such as client and supplier. If you model them as types you could have problems, as many different file nodes could be related to a client. For example, a Legal document and a CAD drawing could both be related to them same client, so if you modelled client as a type you could not classify a document as both Legal and being associated with a specific client. So in this case client and supplier would be better off modelled as aspects so they can both be applied to a node that already has a type applied.

Another implementation difference between types and aspects is that an aspect usually doesn’t extend another aspect, it is more common for them to be stand alone. Aspects are used to implement cross-cutting concerns independently of the type of node. Note that there are a number of aspects already available out of the box, for example the aspects mentioned above, emailed and versionable are already available out-of-the-box. The following is a list of some of the aspects that comes with Content Services out-of-the-box:

  • cm:titled - an extra title and description property - usually applied automatically by the system.
  • cm:auditable - creator, created, modifier, modified, last access - this aspect is applied automatically by the system.
  • cm:transformable - indicates that the content item is transformable to other formats.
  • cm:templatable - applying this aspect to a file node makes this node available as a template in the “create from template…” action.
  • cm:projectsummary
  • cm:complianceable - holds remove after datetime data, there is no behavior attached to it. It was created before the Records Management module, and the idea was that people could use rules or timed actions to create the behavior they needed.
  • cm:author - applied automatically by the system if author metadata can be extracted from document.
  • cm:dublincore - see
  • cm:partable - can be used to denote that a content item is part of another content item.
  • cm:referencing - allows a reference association to be made between one document and another document.
  • cm:replaceable - defines that a document has been replaced by another newer document.
  • cm:effectivity - apply this to a content item if a to and from date is useful.
  • cm:summarizable - apply this to a content item if a summary text is needed.
  • cm:countable - apply this to a content item to count number of times it’s been accessed.
  • cm:copiedfrom - applied when a content item is a copy of another content item.
  • cm:workingcopy - a checked out working copy.
  • cm:checkedOut- applied by the system when a content file is checked out and locked.
  • cm:versionable - apply this aspect to a content file if it should be versioned (note. folders cannot be versioned).
  • cm:lockable - used by the system when a content item is checked out and locked.
  • cm:subscribable - can be used if users should be able to subscribe to content items.
  • cm:classifiable - apply this to a content item if it should be categorized.
  • cm:taggable - can be applied to any content item in the repository to allow tags to be applied to it.
  • cm:rateable - apply to content item if it should be ratable (like/unlike and 5-star rating schemes exist).
  • cm:attachable - apply if content item can have attachments, such as an email.
  • cm:emailed - apply this for example to a content item that has been emailed into the repository.
  • cm:geographic - applied automatically to items with longitude and latitude information embedded.

It is always preferable to use out-of-the-box aspects where possible.

The following is an example of a custom aspect definition:

<aspect name="acme:securityClassified">
   <title>Security Classified</title>
   <description>Content has been security classified</description>
       <property name="acme:securityClassification">
           <index enabled="true">
               <constraint ref="acme:securityClassificationOptions" />

<aspect name="acme:webPublished">
   <title>Web published</title>
   <description>Content has been published to website</description>
       <property name="acme:publishedDate">

Here an aspect has been defined to keep track of the security classification for content items. Any ACME document can have a security classification applied and you can then build rules, policies, processing and other entities based on these security classifications. Faceted search has been specifically enabled for best performance and the default tokenized value has also changed to false so you only index the whole value, such as “Company Confidential”.

There is also a simple webPublished aspect that could be used to indicate if a content item has been published on the web.

After completing the aspect definitions you have almost finished the content model implementation. It would now be possible to deploy it (i.e. bootstrap it) and use it. The labels used in the Share UI for aspects and types, such as when creating rules, are by default picked from the title element in the content model.

However, in multilingual installations we need to supply localization labels for the types, aspects, properties etc. So it is possible to translate the model into different languages. Also, if the title element is not specified for an aspect or type in the content model, then the i18n resource file with the labels is needed.

We can do that by supplying a properties file with property definitions according to certain naming conventions, here is an example for our ACME content model:

acme_contentModel.type.acme_document.title=ACME Document
acme_contentModel.type.acme_contract.title=ACME Contract
acme_contentModel.type.acme_policy.title=ACME Policy
acme_contentModel.type.acme_whitePaper.title=ACME White paper
acme_contentModel.type.acme_project.title=ACME Project
acme_contentModel.aspect.acme_webPublished.title=ACME Web Published
acme_contentModel.aspect.acme_securityClassified.title=ACME Security Classified
acme_contentModel.aspect.acme_projectIdentifier.title=ACME Project Identifier Id Name Id Name Description Start Date Number Date Classification
acme_contentModel.child-association.acme_projectMember.title=Project Member

The naming convention patter for these resource properties are as follows:

{content model namespace}_{content model local name}.[type|aspect|property|association|child-association].{content model namespace}_{local name}.[title|description]

The resource properties file can now be bootstrapped into the repository at the same time as the content model XML file. This is done via a Spring bean definition as follows:

<bean id="org.alfresco.tutorial.customcontentmodelrepo.dictionaryBootstrap"
   <property name="models">
   <property name="labels">
         <!-- Bootstrap Resource Bundles for data list type and properties -->

The key is to define a Spring bean that extends (sets as parent) the out-of-the-box dictionaryModelBootstrap Spring bean. You also want your custom model to be bootstrapped after the out-of-the-box content models as you use them in your model. This is achieved via the depends-on definition. You specify the models that you want to bootstrap as a list contained in the models property.

Important: A model cannot be contained in multiple XML files. The whole model needs to be deployed in one go, otherwise the next deployment overwrites the previous one. If your content model is very large then consider splitting it into multiple namespaces, such as document content model (acme:contentModel) and workflow content model (acmew:workflowModel) and deploy with multiple XML files.

So we now have a content model defined in XML and registered with the repository. It is now possible to use one of the Content Services APIs to create a node with a type from this content model, and one or more aspects applied from the model. Doing this via the Java API would look something like this:

private void createContractFile() {
  String acmeModelURI = "";
  String filename = "ContractA.txt";
  NodeRef parentFolderNodeRef =
          serviceRegistry.getNodeLocatorService().getNode(CompanyHomeNodeLocator.NAME, null, null);

  // Create Node
  QName associationType = ContentModel.ASSOC_CONTAINS;
  QName associationQName = QName.createQName(NamespaceService.CONTENT_MODEL_1_0_URI,
  QName nodeType = ContentModel.TYPE_CONTENT;
  Map<QName, Serializable> nodeProperties = new HashMap<QName, Serializable>();
  nodeProperties.put(ContentModel.PROP_NAME, filename);
  nodeProperties.put(QName.createQName(acmeModelURI, "documentId"), "DOC001");
  nodeProperties.put(QName.createQName(acmeModelURI, "securityClassification"), "Company Confidential");
  nodeProperties.put(QName.createQName(acmeModelURI, "contractName"), "The first contract");
  nodeProperties.put(QName.createQName(acmeModelURI, "contractId"), "C001");
  ChildAssociationRef parentChildAssocRef = serviceRegistry.getNodeService().createNode(
          parentFolderNodeRef, associationType, associationQName, nodeType, nodeProperties);

  NodeRef newFileNodeRef = parentChildAssocRef.getChildRef();

  // Set content for node
  boolean updateContentPropertyAutomatically = true;
  ContentWriter writer = serviceRegistry.getContentService().getWriter(newFileNodeRef, ContentModel.PROP_CONTENT,
  String fileContent = "Contract A, this contract ...";

  // Add an aspect to the node
  Map<QName, Serializable> aspectProperties = new HashMap<QName, Serializable>();
  aspectProperties.put(QName.createQName(acmeModelURI, "publishedDate"), new Date());
  serviceRegistry.getNodeService().addAspect(newFileNodeRef, QName.createQName(acmeModelURI, "webPublished"), aspectProperties);

In this case you are creating an ACME Contract document file. You set the properties for the security classification aspect when you create the Contract node as it is a mandatory aspect on the Contract type. If you want to add other aspects you can do that as shown for the webPublished aspect.

Important: It is possible to create custom content models from the Alfresco Share UI without the need to use XML. These models can then be exported as XML and included in a build project. See the Model Manager in Share Admin Tools documentation for further information.

Configuring the User Interface

To make custom content models available in the Share User Interface some configuration is needed in XML. Localization of metadata and search forms can also be part of this configuration.

Now when we have read the Content Model Introduction and have defined and deployed a content model, it is time to configure the Share UI for it. For more information about how to define and deploy a content model, have a look at this section.

Here we assume that we are working with the ACME content model that was defined and deployed in this section. What was left out then was configuration of the Share UI so it can display information related to the custom ACME content model. The Contract document that was created with a piece of Java code would for example not be displayed in the Share UI as anything else then a standard generic document. We would not be able to see that it is actually an ACME Contract document. Also, there would not be any way of searching specifically for ACME Contract documents from the UI, such as from the Advanced Search page.

To make the new custom content model known to the Share UI we have to do some additional configuration in share-config-custom.xml. If we want to see Contract document information as follows:


Then we would have to configure a view form as follows:

<config evaluator="node-type" condition="acme:contract">
      <!-- Default form configuration -->
              <show id="cm:name" />
              <show id="cm:title" force="true" />
              <show id="cm:description" force="true" />
              <show id="mimetype" />
              <show id="cm:author" force="true" />
              <show id="size" for-mode="view" />
              <show id="cm:creator" for-mode="view" />
              <show id="cm:created" for-mode="view" />
              <show id="cm:modifier" for-mode="view" />
              <show id="cm:modified" for-mode="view" />

              <!-- tags and categories -->
              <show id="cm:taggable" for-mode="edit" force="true" />
              <show id="cm:categories" />

              <!-- cm:dublincore aspect -->
              <show id="cm:publisher"/>
              <show id="cm:contributor"/>
              <show id="cm:type"/>
              <show id="cm:identifier"/>
              <show id="cm:dcsource"/>
              <show id="cm:coverage"/>
              <show id="cm:rights"/>
              <show id="cm:subject"/>

              <!-- cm:complianceable aspect -->
              <show id="cm:removeAfter" />

              <!-- cm:effectivity aspect -->
              <show id="cm:from"/>
              <show id="cm:to"/>

              <!--  cm:summarizable aspect -->
              <show id="cm:summary" />

              <!-- cm:translatable aspect -->
              <show id="cm:translations" />

              <!-- cm:localizable aspect -->
              <show id="cm:locale" />

              <!-- cm:ownable aspect -->
              <show id="cm:owner" />

              <!-- cm:attachable aspect -->
              <show id="cm:attachments" />

              <!-- cm:emailed aspect -->
              <show id="cm:originator" />
              <show id="cm:addressee" />
              <show id="cm:addressees" />
              <show id="cm:sentdate" />
              <show id="cm:subjectline" />

              <!-- exif:exif aspect -->
              <show id="exif:dateTimeOriginal" />
              <show id="exif:pixelXDimension" />
              <show id="exif:pixelYDimension" />
              <show id="exif:exposureTime" />
              <show id="exif:fNumber" />
              <show id="exif:flash" />
              <show id="exif:focalLength" />
              <show id="exif:isoSpeedRatings" />
              <show id="exif:manufacturer" />
              <show id="exif:model" />
              <show id="exif:software" />
              <show id="exif:orientation" />
              <show id="exif:xResolution" />
              <show id="exif:yResolution" />
              <show id="exif:resolutionUnit" />

              <!-- audio:audio aspect -->
              <show id="audio:album" />
              <show id="audio:artist" />
              <show id="audio:composer" />
              <show id="audio:engineer" />
              <show id="audio:genre" />
              <show id="audio:trackNumber" />
              <show id="audio:releaseDate" />
              <show id="audio:sampleRate" />
              <show id="audio:sampleType" />
              <show id="audio:channelType" />
              <show id="audio:compressor" />

              <!-- cm:indexControl aspect -->
              <show id="cm:isIndexed" />
              <show id="cm:isContentIndexed" />

              <!-- cm:geographic aspect -->
              <show id="cm:latitude" />
              <show id="cm:longitude" />

              <!-- surf:widget aspect -->
              <show id="surf:widgetType"/>
              <show id="surf:mid"/>
              <show id="surf:label"/>

              <show id="acme:documentId" force="true"/>
              <show id="acme:securityClassification" />
              <show id="acme:contractName" />
              <show id="acme:contractId" />
              <field id="cm:name">
                      <control-param name="maxLength">255</control-param>
              <field id="cm:title">
                  <control template="/org/alfresco/components/form/controls/textfield.ftl" />
              <field id="cm:description">
                      <control-param name="activateLinks">true</control-param>
              <field id="mimetype">
                  <control template="/org/alfresco/components/form/controls/mimetype.ftl" />
              <field id="size">
                  <control template="/org/alfresco/components/form/controls/size.ftl" />
              <field id="cm:taggable">
                      <control-param name="compactMode">true</control-param>
                      <control-param name="params">aspect=cm:taggable</control-param>
                      <control-param name="createNewItemUri">/api/tag/workspace/SpacesStore</control-param>
                      <control-param name="createNewItemIcon">tag</control-param>
              <field id="cm:categories">
                      <control-param name="compactMode">true</control-param>
              <field id="cm:originator" read-only="true" />
              <field id="cm:addressee" read-only="true" />
              <field id="cm:addressees" read-only="true" />
              <field id="cm:sentdate" read-only="true" />
              <field id="cm:subjectline" read-only="true" />

             **<set id="acmeDocSet" appearance="bordered-panel" label-id="form.set.label.acme.document"/>
              <field id="acme:documentId"  label-id="form.field.label.acme.documentId" set="acmeDocSet">
                  <control template="/org/alfresco/components/form/controls/textfield.ftl"/>
              <field id="acme:securityClassification" label-id="form.field.label.acme.securityClassification" set="acmeDocSet"/>

              <set id="contractDocSet" appearance="bordered-panel" label-id="form.set.label.acme.contract"/>
              <field id="acme:contractName"  label-id="form.field.label.acme.contractName" set="contractDocSet"/>
              <field id="acme:contractId" label-id="form.field.label.acme.contractId" set="contractDocSet"/>**

This is a copy of the view and edit form for the standard generic cm:content file type, with the additional ACME content model properties organized into two groups at the end. Note though that configuring this form does not actually help out in being able to change the type for a file in the Repository to one of the custom ACME types.

To change the type of a file from the Share UI you need to do some more configuration to make the custom ACME types and aspects known:

<config evaluator="string-compare" condition="DocumentLibrary">
          <aspect name="acme:webPublished"/>
          <aspect name="acme:securityClassified"/>
          <aspect name="acme:projectIdentifier"/>
      <addable> <!-- defaults to visible config -->
      <removeable> <!-- defaults to visible config -->
      <type name="cm:folder">
          <subtype name="acme:project"/>
      <!-- First define the ACME base doc type as decedent from cm:content -->
      <type name="cm:content">
          <subtype name="acme:document"/>
      <!-- Then the ACME sub-types -->
      <type name="acme:document">
          <subtype name="acme:contract"/>
          <subtype name="acme:policy"/>
          <subtype name="acme:whitePaper"/>

This configuration makes the custom ACME types and aspects visible in the “Change Type” and “Manage Aspects” user interface actions. Note that when you change type for a content file you will have to do it in steps, you can not change a file with type cm:content directly to acme:contract, you have to first change type to acme:document, and then to acme:contract.

Now, if you wanted to be able to search for files with the ACME Contract type applied and do this directly from the Advanced Search form, such as in the following picture:


Then you would have to add additional configuration as follows:

<config evaluator="string-compare" condition="AdvancedSearch" replace="true">
            ** <form labelId="form.label.advancedsearch.acmeContract"

 <config evaluator="model-type" condition="acme:contract">
        <form id="search">
                <show id="cm:name" />
                <show id="cm:title" force="true" />
                <show id="cm:description" force="true" />
                <show id="mimetype" />
                <show id="cm:modified" />
                <show id="cm:modifier" />

                <show id="acme:documentId" force="true"/>
                <show id="acme:securityClassification" />
                <show id="acme:contractName" />
                <show id="acme:contractId" />
                <field id="mimetype">
                    <control template="/org/alfresco/components/form/controls/mimetype.ftl" />
                <field id="cm:modifier">
                        <control-param name="forceEditable">true</control-param>
                <field id="cm:modified">
                    <control template="/org/alfresco/components/form/controls/daterange.ftl" />

                <set id="acmeDocSet" appearance="bordered-panel" label-id="form.set.label.acme.document"/>
                <field id="acme:documentId"  label-id="form.field.label.acme.documentId" set="acmeDocSet">
                    <control template="/org/alfresco/components/form/controls/textfield.ftl"/>
                <field id="acme:securityClassification" label-id="form.field.label.acme.securityClassification" set="acmeDocSet"/>

                <set id="contractDocSet" appearance="bordered-panel" label-id="form.set.label.acme.contract"/>
                <field id="acme:contractName"  label-id="form.field.label.acme.contractName" set="contractDocSet"/>
                <field id="acme:contractId" label-id="form.field.label.acme.contractId" set="contractDocSet"/>

Here you are configuring the acme:contract type to be available in the Advanced Search page and you also configure the search form that should be used.

All the UI labels in the forms and search view have labels defined in localization property files. The above sample form labels are defined as follows:

# Labels for custom types and aspects
# Used in "Manage Aspects" and "Change Type" dialogs
type.acme_document=ACME Document
type.acme_contract=ACME Contract
type.acme_policy=ACME Policy
type.acme_whitePaper=ACME White Paper
type.acme_project=ACME Project
aspect.acme_webPublished=Web Published
aspect.acme_securityClassified=Security Classified
aspect.acme_projectIdentifier=Project Identification

# View,Edit,Search,Create Form labels for types and aspects
form.set.label.acme.document= ACME Document Information
form.field.label.acme.documentId=ACME Document Id
form.field.label.acme.securityClassification=Security Classification
form.set.label.acme.contract=Contract Information
form.field.label.acme.contractName=Contract Name
form.field.label.acme.contractId=Contract Id
form.set.label.acme.project=ACME Project
form.field.label.acme.projectName=Project Name
form.field.label.acme.projectNumber=Project Number
form.field.label.acme.projectDescription=Project Description
form.field.label.acme.projectStartDate=Project Start Date
form.field.label.acme.projectMembers=Project Members
form.set.label.acme.webPublished=Web Publishing Info
form.field.label.acme.publishedDate=Published Date
form.set.label.acme.projectIdentifier=Project Identifier

# Advanced Search Form labels (only for types)
form.label.advancedsearch.acmeContract=ACME Contracts
form.description.advancedsearch.acmeContract=Search for any ACME Documents

Out-of-the-box content models

The repository comprises several content models out of the box for specifying the core content types of an ECM system. They are expressed in terms of the content metamodel and provide a set of samples on which to base custom content models.

It’s good to know about the existing content models before we start defining our own custom models. There are two main reasons for this. The first reason is that we don’t want to define types and aspects that are already available in the out-of-the-box models, such as generic file and folder types. And the second reason is that we don’t want to clash with the out of the box models when we define our custom models, meaning we don’t want to use the same namespace or prefix that’s used by an out-of-the-box model as this will prevent our custom model from deploying.

The following content models are good to know a bit more about then just the namespace and prefix:

  • Data Dictionary model: The base model upon which all other models depend (located in the file dictionaryModel.xml), the Data Dictionary model provides definitions for the fundamental data types, such as d:text and d:boolean. It exposes the namespace URI with prefix d.
  • System model: The repository depends on a system model (located in the file systemModel.xml) that provides definitions for types used by the implementation of the repository, such as sys:base, sys:root, and sys:reference. In most cases, it should not be required to refer to definitions in the system model from your own custom models. It exposes the namespace URI with prefix sys.
  • ECM domain model: The Enterprise Content Management (ECM) domain model (located in the file contentModel.xml) provides definitions for types and aspects, such as cm:folder, cm:content (for files), cm:versionable (aspect for controlling versioning of files), and cm:auditable (aspect with created, creator, modified, modifier info). All server services, protocols, and clients are focused on these types. It exposes the namespace with prefix cm. When you define custom types you extend out-of-the-box types, such as cm:folder and cm:content.
  • BPM domain model: The Business Process Management (BPM) domain model (located in the file bpmModel.xml) provides definitions for types, such as bpm:package, bpm:task, bpm:workflowTask, and bpm:assignee. All workflow services, protocols, and clients are focused on these types. It exposes the namespace with prefix bpm. These types and aspects are used by the out-of-the-box workflows.

The following list contains the out-of-the-box content model namespaces and prefixes that we must not use when we define our custom content models:

<namespace uri=""                  prefix="abs"/>
<namespace uri=""                              prefix="act"/>
<namespace uri=""           prefix="adobexmp"/>
<namespace uri=""                                  prefix="ai" />
<namespace uri=""                                               prefix="alf"/>
<namespace uri=""                        prefix="alfcmis"/>
<namespace uri=""                         prefix="app"/>
<namespace uri="aps"                                                                   prefix="aps"/>      
<namespace uri=""                               prefix="audio"/>
<namespace uri=""                     prefix="blg"/>
<namespace uri=""                                 prefix="bpm" />
<namespace uri=""                             prefix="cm"/>
<namespace uri=""                           prefix="cmis"/>
<namespace uri=""                             prefix="cmiscustom"/>
<namespace uri=""                        prefix="cmisext"/>
<namespace uri=""               prefix="cmm" />
<namespace uri="custom.model"                                                          prefix="custom"/>
<namespace uri=""                          prefix="d"/>
<namespace uri=""                prefix="da"/>
<namespace uri=""                             prefix="db"/>
<namespace uri=""                                      prefix="dc"/>
<namespace uri=""                            prefix="dl"/>
<namespace uri=""                             prefix="dod"/>
<namespace uri=""                            prefix="download"/>
<namespace uri=""          prefix="dp" />
<namespace uri=""                         prefix="emailserver" />
<namespace uri=""                                prefix="exif"/>
<namespace uri=""                               prefix="fm"/>
<namespace uri=""                          prefix="gd2" />
<namespace uri=""                      prefix="hwf" />
<namespace uri=""                                prefix="ia"/>
<namespace uri=""                                prefix="imap" />
<namespace uri=""           prefix="imwf" />
<namespace uri=""           prefix="inwf" />
<namespace uri=""                           prefix="Iptc4xmpCore"/>
<namespace uri=""                           prefix="Iptc4xmpExt"/>
<namespace uri=""            prefix="iptcxmp"/>
<namespace uri=""                          prefix="lnk"/>
<namespace uri="" prefix="mlsa"/>
<namespace uri=""                            prefix="module" />
<namespace uri=""             prefix="pbcoreModel" />
<namespace uri=""                     prefix="pbcore"/>
<namespace uri=""                                    prefix="photoshop"/>
<namespace uri=""                                    prefix="plus"/>
<namespace uri=""            prefix="plusldf"/>
<namespace uri=""                       prefix="ps"/>
<namespace uri=""                          prefix="pub" />
<namespace uri=""                              prefix="qshare" />
<namespace uri=""                              prefix="qr"/>
<namespace uri=""                   prefix="rc"/>
<namespace uri=""                           prefix="reg" />
<namespace uri=""              prefix="resetpasswordwf" />
<namespace uri=""                   prefix="rma"/>
<namespace uri=""                            prefix="rmc"/>
<namespace uri=""             prefix="rmr"/>
<namespace uri=""                   prefix="rmv"/>
<namespace uri=""                          prefix="rmwf"/>
<namespace uri=""                           prefix="rn"/>
<namespace uri=""                                prefix="rule"/>
<namespace uri=""                                                     prefix="schema" />
<namespace uri=""                 prefix="smf" />
<namespace uri=""                           prefix="srft" />
<namespace uri=""             prefix="srftcustom"/>
<namespace uri=""                                prefix="st"/>
<namespace uri=""                  prefix="stcp"/>
<namespace uri=""                                prefix="surf"/>
<namespace uri=""                                prefix="sync"/>
<namespace uri=""                              prefix="sys" />
<namespace uri=""                            prefix="trx" />
<namespace uri=""                                prefix="usr"/>
<namespace uri=""                        prefix="ver"/>
<namespace uri=""                        prefix="ver2"/>
<namespace uri=""                           prefix="view"/>
<namespace uri=""                              prefix="webdav"/>
<namespace uri=""                            prefix="wf"/>
<namespace uri=""                             prefix="ws" />
<namespace uri=""                                          prefix="xmp"/>
<namespace uri=""                                   prefix="xmpRights"/>

Metadata XML schema

A content metamodel is formally described by an XML-schema document. When in doubt about how to express a content model or understand the full capabilities of the content metamodel, interrogate the XML schema as it provides the definitive description of the content metamodel.

The target namespace of the content metamodel XML schema is

You can locate the latest content metamodel XSD schema here

Content models and CMIS

CMIS defines a data model, which encapsulates the core concepts found in most repositories. Content Services provides an implementation of the CMIS bindings and maps the content metamodel to the CMIS domain model. This allows content models defined in Content Services to be exposed and manipulated by using CMIS.

The following summarizes the CMIS data model:


The core of the domain model allows for the definition of object types with associated properties. A type ID identifies types, which inherits their definition from a parent type. Features of a type include whether they can be queried by the CMIS query language, filed into multiple folders, and controlled by using permissions. Features of a property include its data type, whether a value is required, and a default value if one is not explicitly provided.

Because these features are familiar, you can map between the CMIS data model and the content metamodel with little loss of information.

The Content Services content metamodel is mapped to the CMIS data model as follows:

  • Type: Maps to CMIS Object Type
  • Property: Maps to CMIS Property Definition
  • Peer Association: Maps to CMIS Relationship

Mapping child associations

CMIS has built-in support for hierarchies through CMIS Folder and CMIS Document.

Content Services maps its out-of-the-box types cm:folder and cm:content (as defined in the domain model) to CMIS Folder and CMIS Document, respectively. A folder can contain a mixture of documents and folders, allowing for a hierarchy of documents to be built. Through this, CMIS supports an implicit notion of parent to child, to which is used by Content Services to map its child association. Subtypes of cm:folder and cm:content are exposed as subtypes of CMIS Folder and Document, respectively.

Deploying a content model

A content model is defined in its entirety as a single XML document that must comply with the content metamodel XSD schema provided by the repository. Each model contains a set of related and coherent definitions and is deployed as a unit.

You can deploy several content models to the repository. Definitions in one content model can depend on definitions in another content model, allowing for the sharing of definitions.

You can deploy a content model into the repository using the bootstrap method, which requires a reboot; or the dynamic method, which does not require a reboot. You can also manage models using the Admin Console.

Dynamic deployment approach

When deploying a model, the bootstrap approach places content model XML files into the classpath. The dynamic approach places the files in the repository itself under the /Company Home/Data Dictionary/Models folder.

Alfresco Share provides full access to the repository Data Dictionary folder. Upon creating or uploading a content model XML file, the model, by default, will not be active.

To activate a model:

  1. Load the model file into the /Company Home/Data Dictionary/Models folder.
  2. Click on Edit Properties for the model file.
  3. Select the Model Active checkbox.
  4. Click the Save button to save your changes. The model is now active.

To deactivate a model:

  1. Click on Edit Properties for the model file.
  2. Clear the Model Active checkbox.
  3. Click the Save button to save your changes. The model is now inactive.

Important: There are restrictions on what changes you can make to a content model XML file and when you can delete a content model XML file. Only incremental additions are allowed; that is, changes that do not require modifications to existing data in the repository, or do not modify existing definitions and their properties. You can delete the content model only if it is not used by any data in the repository.

Managing models using the Repo Admin Console

Use the Model and Messages Console in the Repo Admin Console to manage models.

  1. Open the Admin Console (http://{host}:{port}/alfresco/service/enterprise/admin).

  2. In the Consoles section, click Model and Messages Console.

    You see the Model and Messages Console page.


  3. Perform the following as required for administering models:

    1. To list all deployed models that are stored in the repository data dictionary, type show models.

    2. To upload model to repository and load into runtime data dictionary, type deploy model.

      This command also sets the repository model as active. If a model is already deployed, then it will be updated and re-deployed.

      deploy model alfresco/extension/exampleModel.xml
    3. To permanently delete model from repository (all versions) and unload from runtime data dictionary, type undeploy model.

      undeploy model exampleModel.xml
    4. To set repository model to active and load into runtime data dictionary, type activate model.

      activate model exampleModel.xml
    5. To set repository model to inactive and unload from runtime data dictionary, type deactivate model.

      deactivate model exampleModel.xml
  4. Perform the following as required for administering message resource bundles:

    1. To list all deployed message resource bundles that are stored in the repository data dictionary, type show messages.

    2. To upload message resource bundle to repository and runtime message service, type deploy messages.

      deploy messages alfresco/extension/lifecycle-messages
    3. To remove message resource bundle from repository and from runtime message service, type undeploy messages.

      undeploy messages lifecycle-messages
    4. To reload message resource bundle from repository into runtime message service, type reload messages.

      reload messages lifecycle-messages

Deployment - App Server

  • Content Model Definition: tomcat/shared/classes/alfresco/extension/myContentModel.xml (File name can be anything you like as long as you refer to it in the Spring context file)
  • Content Model Bootstrap: tomcat/shared/classes/alfresco/extension/my-content-model-context.xml (File name has to end in -context.xml to be picked up as Spring Bean context file)
  • Share UI configuration: tomcat/shared/classes/alfresco/web-extension/share-config-custom.xml

These file locations are untouched by re-deployments and upgrades.

Deployment All-in-One SDK project

  • Content Model Definition: aio/platform-jar/src/main/resources/alfresco/module/platform-jar/model/content-model.xml
  • Content Model Localization: aio/platform-jar/src/main/resources/alfresco/module/platform-jar/messages/
  • Content Model & Localization Deployment (Bootstrap): aio/platform-jar/src/main/resources/alfresco/module/platform-jar/context/bootstrap-context.xml
  • Share UI Configuration: aio/share-jar/src/main/resources/META-INF/share-config-custom.xml
  • Share UI Localization: aio/share-jar/src/main/resources/alfresco/web-extension/messages/
  • Share UI Localization Deployment (Bootstrap): aio/share-jar/src/main/resources/alfresco/web-extension/share-jar-slingshot-application-context.xml

Note. To implement and deploy a content model with full UI support you need both a repository JAR and a Share JAR project.

More Information

Sample Code


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