EMC Documentum Mobile – a quick review

Some months after being demo-ed at Momentum, the EMC Documentum Mobile client for iPad is finally here for us to actually work with it.

Go to the app store and get the app and go to Powerlink and get the server component. Can’t find the Documentum Mobile Server component in your download basket? Ask you EMC representative and sort it out. It’s kind of limited access right now.

Been there, done that… kit on my hands… let’s go! Here are my first impressions, not very filtered but a bit digested:

The Version is 1.0. We should note the choice of not making it 6.7 as in the current Content Server version although it’s supposed to be a part of it in the future.

First thing is that you need to install a server component to make the App talk to somebody. Of course, nobody expected the app to talk directly to Content Server but… maybe some expectations were directed towards the DFS way.

Well.. it’s not gonna happen. DFS unfortunately has proven quite a hog  for some apps and this time EMC chosed to go the JSON way with “RESTful services”. I’ll give them 10 points for that, it’s an excellent decision. Sorry DFS, not a big fan here.

That being said, we notice that currently only Tomcat and JBOSS servers are supported. On Windows and RedHat. Strange. Not a problem here but I can’t imagine why aren’t many others J2EE/servlet containers supported.

Standard requirements in hardware, nothing to see here.

Content Server needs to be very new (6.6 P10 or later). Also, a number of other products are “optional” but very useful: CTS and the Thumbnail Server. And some BPM DAR and Collaboration DAR. Makes sense for us who know what’s inside, but suddenly making the Documentum “mobile friendly” became a bit too complicated. Shouldn’t be so.

I’ll give 7 out of 10 for prerequisites.

During install you jump through the many hoops of unpacking the WAR, update the dfc.properties, repack the WAR… Somebody should find a better way for this.

Therefore, a 7 goes to the installation procedure. I was leaning to an 8… but not really because…

When you fire up the iPad App you need to create a “profile”. The profile directs the app to a certain mobile server and docbase. It asks for an URL of the mobile server. Help is of no use, says the admin will tell you what to write there. Since I am the admin I should know. But it’s not written anywhere (install guide/release notes/help docs)! So I take a leap of faith and type an URL mimicking the installation test: “http://server:port/mobile/”. Loading………. 404!

Ain’t that cute? As usual, the answer is simple: remove the trailing / from the URL and try again. So, note to all of you out there: when asked for the “Server URL” put in the complete URL to where you deployed the WAR but don’t put any / at the end.

Contextual help should provide a sample. Or the profile definition form itself. EMC… please.

When all this is done the application just works. Really.

The UI is inspired from the Twitter iPad app. Very responsive and easy to work with. Relatively intuitive. It definitely looks ok.

Since my environment does not have yet the Thumbnail server and I was only connecting to an empty new one… nothing fancy to see.

What I’ve noticed is that the properties displayed for each document are very limited: name, modified date&by, size, subject and owner. I’ll check for a custom object later.

Some errors ocassionally.  Even a crash. But it’s somehow espected from a first version.

Since I don’t have the collaboration DAR also installed, some features don’t work (but I can comment on documents !). It would have been nice to have them disabled in the UI instead of getting an error when trying to use them… but still… the error is “intelligible” (“the repository is not configured for…”). Ok’ish.

As a general note for the app, I’ll give an 8.

So, as a quick conclusion: it works, not a pain to install but with a lot of dependencies, good mix of features (browse, tasks, comments, download offline, watch, spaces, collections…), nice UI, fast (on an empty repo 🙂 ). Sound very good for now.

In the next few days I’ll look into how it handles volumes and custom stuff. I’ll not look into the collaboration features.

Related reading:

Product page: http://www.emc.com/apps/documentum-mobile.htm

Demo: https://community.emc.com/community/connect/documentum/blog/2011/08/25/documentum-mobile-getting-started

ChalkTalk: https://community.emc.com/community/edn/documentum/blog/2011/08/17/documentum-mobile-strategy

And again: congrats for not using DFS

PS: I think you said the source code will be available on EDN. Will it be? It would be very helpful and probably the way to go.

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7 thoughts on “EMC Documentum Mobile – a quick review

  1. Nice one with the “slash”…
    From a developer standpoint it makes perfect sense: you configured the url and the context. From there on I am the developer, I make the slashes!
    From a user standpoint I should be able to configure this independently. Here’s my server, here’s my port and here’s my application context. I don’t know what you’re doing with them and frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.

  2. Pingback: A custom Documentum TaskSpace UI for iPad | Me and Content Management

  3. Pingback: EMC iPad Application – mind your DNS entries | Me and Content Management

  4. I’d love to get my hands on an HTTP trace of the client-server communication. There seems to be no documentation as far as the REST API is concerned. Imagine what you could build with access to it.

    • Well, its quite easy to see the HTTP chat between the iPad app and the server. Just make your iPad go through a proxy and log the traffic there. Google “Charles” and carry on from there.

      Anyway, the REST(json) services are not an official API but are quite straightforward to understand and reuse (on your own risk).

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