Introduction to CMIS

Posted on: Mon, 2009-11-23 19:00

Recently I had the opportunity give a presentation on Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS).  This is a new Oasis standard which entered Public Review with the release of the "CMIS 1.0 Committee Draft 04 Specification".

The CMIS standard has created quite a buzz within the Enterprise Content Management Community.  Even though the standard will not be ratified until after the public comment period ends on December 22, I met a number of system integrators and solution developers who are waiting with bated breath to start developing against the standard.

Now that Alfresco has released the first OASIS CMIS 1.0 Public Review Implementation, there will be a fair amount of content produced regarding the spec.  On November 24, one of my colleagues, Gabriele Columbro, will be giving a virtual class on CMIS. Additonally, Jeff Potts, a lead architect at Optaros, Inc has written a Tutorial, Getting Started with CMIS.

In this post, I would introduce the spec, discuss about its benefits and reference a series of posts that will serve as a summary of the specification.

Benefits of CMIS

CMIS has the potential to do for Enterprise Content Management what SQL did for relational databases.  It provides a consistent  interface to ECM repositories that is:

  • Programming language neutral
  • Platform independent
  • Flexible enough to deal with the differences between repository instances

Potential Use Cases

The potential use cases that would benefit from CMIS are endless. Here is my, non comprehensive, list.

Content centric, repository independent, applications

Today most applications that rely on a database, give you a choice of which database is used on the back end.  The CMIS specification could make this possible for applications that rely on content.

Applications to mine content across the enterprise

Most large enterprises have content that is stored in multiple repositories, and for good reasons.  CMIS enables enterprises and system integrators to write applications that can leverage content from a heterogeneous mix of repositories.

Transformation of consumer on line services

Now this may be a stretch, but as a consumer who is also a techie, I love to ponder innovative ways to use technology. Think about how much of our information we get on line, cell phone, banking, financial services, the list goes on.  Every interface is different and you have to remember a zillion passwords.  What if all of that information was exposed as CMIS compliant repositories that supported some sort of SSO like OpenID (or at least a secure version of that).  I could use one CMIS client to browse all of my information. This would also open up the possibility of creating mashups between all of my different on line accounts. What if I could link the image of the check that I wrote to pay my phone bill with the PDF of the bill. (OK so I am a dreamer!)

Overview of the specification

The CMIS specification is rather long, 200+ pages.  I have written a series of postings that provide some highlights of the spec. The postings can be accessed by the links below.

Additional Information

In the next few months, there will be a lot if information coming out about CMIS.  To help spread the word and keep the community up to date I will maintain a page with links to CMIS resources. If you want to keep up to date on my CMIS related blog posts feel free to subscribe to my cmis feed.