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CASE-5 Using Alfresco and Orbeon to Implement a Local eGovernment Portal


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Delivering online government services for citizens and businesses requires a full cycle of forms management. Workflows include web forms creation and updating, forms publishing on eGov portal, processing of submitted forms, hardcopies management, statistics and reporting. Let’s discuss how we can implement this with Alfresco ECM, Orbeon Forms and some magic.

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CASE-5 Using Alfresco and Orbeon to Implement a Local eGovernment Portal

  1. 1. Implementing eGovernment Portal Powered by Alfresco and Orbeon Oksana Kurysheva Alexey Ermakov
  2. 2. AgendaPart I – Problem definition and brief overview of the approach • Local eGovernment Portals – Russian experience – current state and the most challenging problems • Technical requirements – what do we need, what Alfresco provided and where 3rd party solution help was required • Overall architecture of the system based on Alfresco and OrbeonPart II – Implementation details • Integrating Alfresco and Orbeon in less then a month – detailed architecture, configs, key sources snippets • Workflows implementation – theory and practice – what we needed in real life in addition to Alfresco out-of-the-box capabilities
  3. 3. Part I:Problems faced and approach chosen
  4. 4. The aimMake government services available for citizens and businesses online in electronic form
  5. 5. The aimMake government services available for citizens and businesses online in electronic form • Information about government services and ways of obtaining
  6. 6. Typical local eGov portal: information web site Static information about eGov services is available
  7. 7. The aimMake government services available for citizens and businesses online in electronic form • Information about government services and ways of obtaining • Ability to submit a request to receive government services online • Full back-office integration, including inter-agency cooperation
  8. 8. Main problems to address Convert existing paper forms into electronic format Establish workflows to execute submitted forms
  9. 9. Addressing electronic forms creation Creating forms sounds simple. But it is not: • Forms can be really huge and complicated • Forms change time to time (monthly update for some of them) • List of forms to be available online is not fixed — it is regulated by federal and local laws, updates happen few times a year • Each agency has its own requirements Bottom line: there is no way to create forms definitions once
  10. 10. Addressing electronic forms creation The only possible solution: government employees can create and edit forms definitions themselves • It means creation and editing of dozens of complicated forms by non-technical users (including auto-checking configuration, mapping to templates for printing, etc) We need visual form authoring tool
  11. 11. Electronic forms management: finding the toolWhat Alfresco is: What Alfresco is not: • Document management • Form authoring tool that • Forms storage and allows non-technical users to management create complicated forms visually • Workflow automation platform (discussed further) • Open and flexible ECM that creates the basis for future inter-agency cooperation and systems integration Approach: integrate Alfresco and Orbeon
  12. 12. What is Orbeon? • Orbeon Forms – open source forms solution • Based on XForms and Ajax • Implemented in Java • Integration-friendly (discussed further) • Orbeon consists of 2 modules: • Forms Builder – visual form authoring tool • Forms Runner – runtime for deployed forms
  13. 13. Form definition creation in Orbeon Builder Visual form definition editor
  14. 14. Form definition creation in Orbeon Builder Adding auto-checking rules to control
  15. 15. Form definition creation in Orbeon Builder Uploading PDF template for printing according with local regulation (prepared in usual
  16. 16. Published formexample
  17. 17. Solution: forms authoring and submission
  18. 18. Addressing workflows: basic diagram
  19. 19. Addressing workflows: basic diagram The issue: Step 8 is actually a monstrous non-formalized process
  20. 20. Addressing workflowsThe issue: internal workflows are not fixed strictly • Each basic atomic internal workflow can be described in details but throughout form execution can not: • There are a lot of optional stages that can be included or not • Single form execution can trigger lots of internal processes to request additional papers, approvals, notifications an so on • Each sub-process can trigger even more child processes • Yeh, Russia is a very bureaucratic country after all
  21. 21. Addressing workflowsSolution: create workflows relations • Create basic atomic workflows definitions • Allow users to associate these simple workflows with each other to build complex processes on demand
  22. 22. Solution: complete architecture
  23. 23. Part II:Implementation details
  24. 24. Orbeon Integration: Approach
  25. 25. Orbeon Integration: Implementation
  26. 26. Persistence API ImplementationREST Web Scripts • PUT: add new file to repository • GET: return file from repository • POST: perform a search in repository • DELETE: remove file from repository
  27. 27. PUT Requestpersistence.put.desc.xml<webscript> <shortname>Persistence Layer</shortname> <description>Web script implementing Orbeon FormsPersistence Layer put request</description> <url>/persistence/crud/{app_name}/{form_name}/data/{form_data_id}/{file_name}</url> <authentication runas="orbeon">user</authentication> <transaction>required</transaction> <format default="html">argument</format></webscript>
  28. 28. PUT Requestpersistence.put.js// create/get filevar file = folder.childByNamePath(file_name);if (!file && folder.hasPermission("CreateChildren")){ file = folder.createNode(file_name, "form:formType"); file.addAspect("cm:versionable"); file.addAspect("cm:auditable");["cm:created"] = new Date(); ...["form:id"] = form_data_id;}else["cm:modified"] = new Date();;var copy = file.checkout();;file = copy.checkin("modified by orbeon forms", true);file.mimetype = requestbody.mimetype;;
  29. 29. Persistence API problems • Forms definitions are stored in eXist • Content-type mismatch problem
  30. 30. Problem: content type mismatchSolution: define two different scripts<!-- web script to return application/octet-stream --><webscript kind="">... <url>/persistence/crud/{app_name}/{form_name}/data/{form_data_id}/{file_name}.pdf</url> <format default="">argument</format>...</webscript><!-- web script to return application/xml --><webscript>... <url>/persistence/crud/{app_name}/{form_name}/data/{form_data_id}/{file_name}.xml</url> <format default="_xml">argument</format></webscript>
  31. 31. Orbeon Integration: Persistence Layer Complete
  32. 32. Submitted forms execution • Content model to store form metadata • Workflow to automate form execution • Java class to send e-mails to client
  33. 33. Content model<type name="form:formType"> <title>Content class representing submitted form</title> <parent>cm:content</parent> <properties> <property name="form:id"> <type>d:text</type> <mandatory>true</mandatory> </property> <property name="form:submitDate">... <property name="form:checkDate">... <property name="form:isCorrect">... <property name="form:executeDate">... <property name="form:checker">... <property name="form:executor“> </properties></type>
  34. 34. Workflow
  35. 35. Workflow modelformWorkflowModel.xml: type definition<type name="formwf:checkTask"> <parent>bpm:workflowTask</parent> <overrides> <property name="bpm:packageItemActionGroup"> <default>read_package_item_actions</default> </property> </overrides> <mandatory-aspects> <aspect>formwf:formaspect</aspect> <aspect>formwf:assignee</aspect> <aspect>formwf:commentAspect</aspect> </mandatory-aspects></type>
  36. 36. Workflow modelformWorkflowModel.xml: form aspect definition<aspect name="formwf:formaspect"> <properties> <property name="formwf:email"> <type>d:text</type> </property> <property name="formwf:checker">... <property name="formwf:previewlink">... <property name="formwf:statuslink">... </properties></aspect>
  37. 37. Workflow modelformWorkflowModel.xml: comment aspect definition<aspect name="formwf:commentAspect“> <properties> <property name="formwf:comments"> <type>d:text</type> <mandatory>false</mandatory> <multiple>false</multiple> </property> </properties></aspect>
  38. 38. Workflow modelformWorkflowModel.xml: assignee aspect definition<aspect name="formwf:assignee“> <associations> <association name="formwf:assignee"> <source> <mandatory>false</mandatory> <many>false</many> </source> <target> <class>cm:person</class> <mandatory>false</mandatory> <many>false</many> </target> </association> </associations></aspect>
  39. 39. Java mailerpublic class Notifier extends BaseProcessorExtension { ... public boolean send(String to, String subject, String content) { ... Properties props = new Properties(); props.setProperty("mail.transport.protocol", "smtp"); ... Session mailSession = Session.getDefaultInstance(props, null); Transport transport = mailSession.getTransport(); MimeMessage message = new MimeMessage(mailSession); ... message.setRecipient(Message.RecipientType.TO, new InternetAddress(to)); transport.connect(); transport.send(message); transport.close(); }}
  40. 40. Orbeon Integration: Workflows Complete
  41. 41. Additional Alfresco extensions developed • Custom file uploader • Related workflows extension
  42. 42. Custom file uploader • Attach files from local drive directly to workflow • Intuitive Google-style end-user experience • Uses YUI Uploader: no third party libraries are needed
  43. 43. Custom file uploader
  44. 44. Related workflows • Creates relations between workflows • Start new workflow from task edit page • View all related workflows of current task from task page • Easy to see which process blocks current task • Easy to get process «dependencies» for stats • Bottom line: no «mega workflow» is required, allows to build execution paths from «basic blocks» on demand
  45. 45. Related workflows
  46. 46. Summary: Current project state • Orbeon and Alfresco integration allows non-technical users to create and edit form definitions easily • Forms are stored and processed in Alfresco, creating a basement for managing all documents in one system • Forms execution became more intuitive and simple compared with legacy document management system
  47. 47. Roadmap: Features planned • Statistics module to report on workflows execution for management • Organizational chart extension to pick employees from orgchart, assign tasks to organizational roles, manage tasks access control, get statistics on departments • Replace eXist completely, move everything to Alfresco
  48. 48. You can find this presentation and more details about this implementation on Contact us at and And follow us on twitter: @aviriel and @fufler