BP-9 Share Customization Best Practices


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Alfresco Share provides a rich platform for further development, allowing you to tweak and customize to your heart’s content, using only lightweight scripting and templating. But with great power, comes great responsibility, as they say. So this session looks at what it means to customize Share, before discussing how best to go about it, with tips and tricks based on real-world examples.

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BP-9 Share Customization Best Practices

  1. 1. Customizing Share Best Practices! Will Abson, Senior Solutions Engineer
 @wabson! Jeff Potts, Chief Community Officer! @jeffpotts01!
  2. 2. “Best Practices” Disclaimer!•  We’ve done a lot of Share customization implementation work •  BUT, things are changing quickly!•  “Best Practice” is more succinct than “things we really feel strongly about based on all of the work we’ve done so far”•  It would be great to get community feedback on these recommendations and ones we’ve missed
  3. 3. Customizing Share!Evolution of Alfresco UI customization Image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Human_evolution_scheme.svg
  4. 4. What Can I Customize?!
  5. 5. What Can I Customize?!
  6. 6. What Can I Customize?!
  7. 7. High Level Architecture! Web  Scripts   Web  Scripts  
  8. 8. Share Architecture!
  9. 9. Share Architecture!
  10. 10. Categories of Recommendations!•  Methodology•  Team Structure•  Project Folder Structure and Build Tools•  Packaging•  Namespaces•  Development Tools and Frameworks•  Documentation•  Testing
  11. 11. Rec: Use an Iterative Customization Process!Lightweight technologies allow rapid iteration
  12. 12. Example: Content Expiration Page!Sprint 1 Sprint 2 Sprint 3Repository Share dashlet and Share dashlet andcustomisations and web script JSON custom pageHTML web script template -click- -click-
  13. 13. Rec: Divide Team by Tier!•  If new repo tier web scripts are needed 1.  Agree on a contract (URLs, Responses)! 2.  Stub out JSON! 3.  Create tests using the agreed to contract and stubs! 4.  Work on each tier in parallel! 5.  Integrate, test, go-live, repeat!
  14. 14. Rec: Divide Team by Tier!•  Can be tougher to split out Share tier versus “UI development” aka YUI expertise 1.  Designer creates pages! 2.  UI person translates into markup! 3.  Share tier developer puts markup in a template! 4.  Gradually replace static bits with dynamic components!
  15. 15. Project Structure Recommendations!•  Separate your source from your deployment •  i.e., Donʼt create your project inside the webapp!! •  Choose an appropriate structure!•  Choose a build tool to deploy your code •  Even for simple projects! •  Working right from the start! •  Project structure may be dictated by your build tool!•  Consider using an IDE •  Though not essential!
  16. 16. Packaging Options!1. Copy into exploded Share WAR2. Create a JAR that includes everything, drop into WEB-INF/lib OR $TOMCAT_HOME/shared lib3. Create an AMP•  Recommendation: Use JAR approach whenever possible•  Shameless plug: addons.alfresco.com
  17. 17. Packaging: JAR vs. AMP!JAR  file  format   AMP  file  format  Standard  file  format,  based  on  ZIP  format.   Same  ZIP  format,  but  supports  custom  No  support  for  metadata  yet,  but  JAR   deployment-­‐Eme  file  mappings  and  supports  it  via  MANIFEST  file.   addiEonal  module  metadata  Deploy  by  copying  into  tomcat/shared/lib   Deploy  directly  into  the  webapp  using  or  similar  or  into  WEB-­‐INF/lib  (Java   Alfresco  Module  Management  Tool  (MMT)  classloading  restricEons)  Same  JAR  can  contain  repository  and  Share   Requires  one  file  for  Share  and  another  for  customisaEons,  or  separate  JARs  can  be   repository  used  Uninstall  by  removing  the  JAR  file   Uninstall  requires  a  back-­‐up  of  the  original   WAR  file  (created  by  MMT  by  default)  
  18. 18. Build Tools!•  Apache Ant •  Used by most Alfresco projects and modules and by Share Extras (see Sample Dashlet project)! •  Pros – lightweight, simple! •  Cons – no dependency management, lack of task standardization!•  Apache Maven •  Used by Spring Surf! •  Pros – Standardized project structures and targets! •  Cons – More complex, can be slow, no public Enterprise Maven repo!
  19. 19. Example Ant Project Structure!•  Source folder config contains classpath resources•  Source folder source/web contains client-side assets•  Local folder build used for compilation, assembly, etc. •  Normally not added to revision control!
  20. 20. Example Ant Build Script (build.xml)!•  Suitable for most simple Share add-ons•  Build packages ready for deployment •  By default builds a JAR-file extension! •  But also supports other formats!•  Support for hot-copying exploded files into a local webapp for testing•  Optional tasks (can be commented out if not required) •  JS compression using YUI Compressor (requires yuicompressor-2.4.2.jar and yui-compressor-ant-task-0.5.jar)! •  Web script reloading via HTTP (requires ml-ant-http-1.1.1.jar)!•  Can be customized by adding additional build scripts
  21. 21. Example Folder Structure: Sample Dashlet!http://code.google.com/p/share-extras/wiki/SampleProject
  22. 22. Example Maven Project Structure!•  Source folder src/main/ resources contains (most) classpath resources •  Sub-folder META-INF contains client-side assets! •  Sub-folder webscripts contains web script resources!•  Local folder target used for compilation, assembly, etc. •  Normally not added to revision control!
  23. 23. Namespace Recommendations!•  Used to ensure your identifiers are unique•  Namespaces exist everywhere •  Web scripts use web script package! •  e.g. org/mycompany/share/sample/myscript.get •  Client-side assets use folder path and object namespaces! •  e.g. mycompany/components/sample/sprite.png, MyCompany.dashlet.HelloWorldDashlet! •  Spring bean IDs use dot notation! •  e.g. mycompany.share.sample.css! •  Content models use URLs and prefixes! •  AMP module IDs use package structure with underscores!•  Do not re-use Alfresco namespaces •  Even if they are not explicit!
  24. 24. Example Namespaces: Sample Dashlet!
  25. 25. Development Tools!•  Eclipse used by Alfresco developers •  Large collection of plug-ins, e.g.! •  Web Developer Tools (JavaScript, CSS, HTML, XML)! •  Freemarker! •  Spring Surf! •  SpringSource tools (part of STS)! •  http://code.google.com/p/share-extras/wiki/ DevelopmentEnvironment!•  Spring Surf tools •  Web scripts index! •  JavaScript (Rhino) debugger! Rec: Two Tomcats •  SurfBug tool – new in 4.0! •  http://blogs.alfresco.com/wp/ddraper/2011/08/31/surfbug/!
  26. 26. Development Frameworks – Donʼt reinvent thewheel!•  Server-side frameworks •  Spring Framework! •  Spring Surf! •  Spring Web Scripts! •  Share mini-frameworks! •  Dashlets, Admin Console Components! •  Document Library and Data List actions!•  Client-side frameworks •  YUI 2.9.0 (from 4.0, previously 2.8.1)! •  JQuery 1.5.2 (from 4.0)! •  Alfresco client-side JavaScript!
  27. 27. Rec: Mashup/re-use Whatʼs Already There!
  28. 28. Spring Web Scripts!•  Share web scripts must be placed on the classpath•  Core configuration defines multiple container folders for web scripts •  Like the repository, folders can override each other based on web script path! •  Use alfresco/site-webscripts for your own scripts! •  Use alfresco/web-extension/site-webscripts if you are overriding existing scripts! •  But remember you donʼt need to override all files!•  Differently-named from repository web script folders •  So repository and Share web scripts can co-exist in the same project structure!
  29. 29. Spring Surf Extensibility!•  New in 4.0 / Spring Surf 1.0•  Define add-on modules for Spring Surf •  Much more flexible than old method of overriding web scripts! •  Dynamically enable/disable and update modules!•  Add, extend or remove page components•  Implementation via sub-components •  Breaking down of Surf page components! •  Old component definitions will still work! •  Converted internally to new-style components with a single sub-component with ID default•  See http://blogs.alfresco.com/wp/ddraper/
  30. 30. Extending Alfresco JavaScript! Use the standard pattern and extend Alfresco.component.Base(function(){ ... Alfresco.dashlet.SiteTags = function SiteTags_constructor(htmlId) { return Alfresco.dashlet.SiteTags.superclass.constructor.call(this, "Alfresco.dashlet.SiteTags", htmlId); }; YAHOO.extend(Alfresco.dashlet.SiteTags, Alfresco.component.Base, { options: { ... }, onReady: function SiteTags_onReady() { ... // This is where the action happens }, ... }}
  31. 31. Extending Alfresco JavaScript!•  Use Alfresco utility classes and methods •  Alfresco.util.Ajax for loading data! •  Alfresco.util.Anim for fading and resizing! •  Alfresco.module.SimpleDialog for modal dialogs! •  Other useful methods! •  Alfresco.util.encodeHTML() and Alfresco.util.decodeHTML() •  Alfresco.util.createYUIButton() •  Alfresco.util.parseJSON()•  Full docs at http://sharextras.org/jsdoc/
  32. 32. Extending Alfresco JavaScript!•  Declare your own custom JS namespacesif (typeof MyCompany == "undefined" || !MyCompany){ var MyCompany = {};}if (typeof MyCompany.dashlet == "undefined" || ! MyCompany.dashlet){ MyCompany.dashlet = {};}
  33. 33. Extending Alfresco JavaScript!•  Override client-side JS methods using object prototype OR (better) using YAHOO.extend(), YAHOO.lang.augmentProto() and YAHOO.lang.augmentObject()// Override "icon" column in My Tasks MyCompany.component.TaskList = ... list YAHOO.extendAlfresco.component.TaskList.prototype.r (MyCompany.component.TaskList, enderCellTaskInfo = function Alfresco.component.TaskList, { Acme_TL_renderCellTaskInfo(elCell, renderCellTaskInfo: function oRecord, oColumn, oData) Acme_TL_renderCellTaskInfo(elCell, { oRecord, oColumn, oData) elCell.innerHTML = <custom code { goes here>; elCell.innerHTML = <custom code }; goes here>; }; });Examples from Erik Winlöf’s 2010 talk More Ways of Customizing Share and RecordsDocumentList component in Share DOD5015.2 Module
  34. 34. Documentation Recommendations!•  Client-side documentation •  Use JSDoc annotations within comments! •  JsDoc Toolkit is used by Share Extras to generate HTML summaries, with custom ʻAlfrescoʼ template – see http://code.google.com/p/share-extras/wiki/JSDoc! •  Yahooʼs YUI Doc is another option - http://developer.yahoo.com/yui/yuidoc/!•  Web script documentation •  Use <description> element in web script descriptor to describe the script itself, plus itʼs parameters and response format! •  Document all args in <url> element! •  Use <family> element, even on repo tier web scripts!
  35. 35. Example JSDoc comments: Sample Dashlet!
  36. 36. Testing Recommendations!•  Have a repeatable approach, right from the start•  A framework is provided for testing both Presentation and Repository web scripts •  Different test harness classes used for each!•  Testing may be interactive (when developing) or automated (unit tests) •  Interactive testing avoids the need to do time-consuming build- deploy cycles! •  Unit tests can use helper methods to test correctness of their output – and is recommended for all data web scripts! •  Note: Java unit tests required!•  http://wiki.alfresco.com/wiki/3.0_Web_Scripts_Testing
  37. 37. Other interesting examples!•  Share Extras •  JavaScript Console! •  CSV bulk load of users! •  Google dashlets! •  +34 other useful examples!•  Dashlet Challenge 2011 Submissions (~12) •  See wiki for complete list of all submissions and links!•  Records Management Module•  Web Quick Start Share customizations
  38. 38. Help Wanted / Gauge Interest!•  Metaversant Five Star Ratings Widget •  Might refactor using new extensibility features and publish the lessons learned as a tutorial!•  Port of SomeCo Developer Guide Examples •  Code mostly done for 3.3/3.4—needs to be cleaned up, posted, docʼd! •  Needs to be refactored for 4.0!•  Collaboratively-authored Share Developer Guide on wiki or under Creative Commons?
  39. 39. Conclusions!•  Customization opens up new possibilities, but•  Understand the frameworks•  Use an appropriate project structure•  Consider which packaging format is best for you•  Don’t forget testing and documentation
  40. 40. will.abson@alfresco.com