We just released version 1.7 of our open source case management framework, with some compelling new usability features, as well as access to the latest innovations from the Nuxeo Enterprise Platform (EP).
Why a Framework?
Case management is a very context-sensitive process, and software solutions need to replicate very specific, ordered manual processes. One size does not fit all - every organization/department/group operates differently, and the solutions they use must adapt cleanly to their routines. We have chosen to offer a framework because we understand that customizations are a large part of a case management solution, and we have designed for that.
Version 1.7 of Nuxeo CMF - What’s New?
We’ve been focusing on two main things for this release. First, usability. We believe case management is much different than a typical document management workflow, which is why we’ve decided to move away from our standard document management model. In the navigation pane, we’ve replaced the document tree by a list of mailboxes, creating an easy-to-use, email-type of look and feel. Once you click on a mailbox, you'll see different tabs for the case you have received, sent or written. Once you click on a case, instead of navigating to the case document, the right part of the screen is split in two. The upper right part will still list your cases and the lower right part will show you the content of the case that has been selected. You’ll also notice a new tree on the lower left part of the screen. This will let you navigate between the different items of the current case.
While the UI is looking more and more like a rich web application, we are not using RIA technologies. All of these enhancements have been done using JSF and the Nuxeo Theme Engine. Doing this allows us to leverage all the work we’ve already done on Nuxeo EP (with layouts, widgets, and Nuxeo Studio) and also means that people using Nuxeo Document Management can reuse their own development.
Our second focus point was aligning CMF with the latest version of the Nuxeo Enterprise Platform (EP) so that CMF users can enjoy all the new features incorporated into Nuxeo EP 5.4.2/, like the Admin Center, the user home, the new launcher, install wizard, and much more.
One of the main assets of CMF is its integration with content routing. The main job of case management is to move cases from mailbox to mailbox while maintaining visibility, so users can track progress according to the relevance that case may have to them. To facilitate this, we came up with the concept of a route. A route is a workflow, i.e. a series of steps that can be taken to complete a task. Reading “workflow” here might bring to mind JBPM, which is the solution we’ve already implemented in other Nuxeo applications, but we won't be using it with content routing :-). JBPM is a fairly complicated beast, and we believe you shouldn't have to be a JBPM expert to be able to create a workflow. To start a route, you just need to know how to create a document in Nuxeo.
A route allows users to define a specific process along with the steps necessary to complete that process. CMF comes with one “Route” document type and six “Step” document types built-in. As they are document types, they are easily extendable like any other Nuxeo document type.
So to create a route, you just need to create a new “Route” document, and add the steps you need as children documents of the route. Once you have validated that route, you can attach a document to it and then start the route. Each step of the route has an associated automation chain that will be run while entering the step. CMF steps are mainly distributing the associated document (a case) from one mailbox to another. The “Step” document as a mailbox metadata is used by the automation chain to know where to distribute the case. But you could do something completely different. For instance with DM, you could create a new “Step” document type, with userId metadata, and associate that to an automation chain which grants the “Write” permission to the user defined by the userId metadata.
If you want to learn more specifically how to use routes in CMF, take a look at Working with Routes in our user documentation.
And if you want to create a new route and step, the document, Content Routing, provides developers with the necessary information to make these customizations.
But be patient, since we’re using document type and automation chains to create routes and steps, this process will soon be accessible in Nuxeo Studio.
What’s Next for CMF?
The roadmap for CMF is very focused - as mentioned, our next version will enable customization work with Nuxeo Studio, so that case management solutions can be built and deployed faster, and without coding.
Links, Resources, Etc.
Following are a few links for more information on this new version: