Monday, December 19, 2005

iECM: Interoperable Enterprise Content Management

iECM is a new standard being developed through AIIM - the organization that developed the first definition of ECM. The goal is to define a standard or set of standards to allow different Enterprise Content Management software to be able to work together in a heterogeneous environment. As you would expect, if you have been reading this blog, I am very hopeful for this standard. Such a standard would move ECM from a "one CMS to rule all" vision to a more practical distributed environment where different system are connected.

Based on this, you can understand the concern that my experience with the registration process raised. After looking at the iECM Blog and seeing nothing, I figured I should register to the mailing list to see what is going on. And that is where the trouble began.

It turns out that, in order to register, you need to fill out a PDF form. I run Fedora Core 4 and the default PDF viewer is Evince. In Evince, it looked like you were supposed to print out the form, fill it out in ink, then send it in. Not seeing a mail address, or a place to sign (why else would they require a mail form?), I knew something was up. I figured it was an active PDF form after working with them on a project for a big insurance company that needed this technology for some sort of compliance.

So I downloaded and installed the Adobe Acrobat Viewer. Using the Adobe Viewer, I saw a submit button! But my hassle was not over. After I filled out the form and hit submit, I got a pop-up asking me to select my mail client. Thunderbird was not on the list. I had to save a file locally and then attach it to an email to the address on the pop-up (copying and pasting the address and subject was not enabled).

This is not my idea of interoperability. Interoperability would be to use a standard HTML web form, not a proprietary file format and a proprietary viewer. If it had to be an Adobe technology, they could have used Macromedia's ColdFusion or JRun and Java. This also hints that this group is really oriented to document management and not web content management. I am still hopeful that this standard can bear some fruit and become meaningful in the content management industry, but this experience was discouraging