Today we meet Sylvain Chambon, head of the Java Integration Division at Open Wide, and contributor of the Kerberos authentication plugin. You have probably heard of Nuxeo partner Open Wide already, as we did a webinar together about the EasySOA research project. I had the opportunity to interview him at the Documation conference where he gave a standing-room only presentation about how he used the Nuxeo Platform to build a project management app.
The audio is available, with the background noise of a very busy Documation trade show.
Hi Sylvain. You're working for a systems integrator called Open Wide. Are you working in the Enterprise Content Management field specifically?
Actually I'm working in the Java integration unit, across domains. We're organized by technology. I am specialized in Java-based software. There is a unit that does Java development, and another unit that I manage that does integration of complete solutions from pre-existing software like Nuxeo or Liferay, for instance.
What kind of projects do you usually work on from a functional perspective? When using Nuxeo, do you use document management, social collaboration, or digital asset management?
We are working on three projects at the moment. All of them are document management projects, with a strong emphasis on collaborative work. So, we use Nuxeo’s document management and social collaboration components. The main focus is good old document management, with an emphasis on business process automation, so that we are building a business document management application that’s more than just a simple repository. The strength of Nuxeo is that you can automate business processes and lifecycles and have something that is completely adapted to the organizational processes.
I’d like to find out more about your development processes with the Nuxeo Platform. What can you tell us about the fact that you can use Nuxeo Studio and/or Java and XML to configure and extend the platform?
So it's always Studio AND Java, because Studio allows us to do 80% of what we want to achieve. For extending the Platform and more advanced development work, we need to write Java code.
Sometimes it’s much faster for me to write code in Java and it is easier to maintain the changes over time, because I have a source code management tool. I can see the history, the changes between two commits, etc. The difference between coding from scratch and using Nuxeo Studio is that you can't see the differences between two commits in Studio, to find out exactly what has been modified. In general, Nuxeo's development model (with extension points and bundles) may not be intuitive upon first glance, but as you dive a bit deeper, you understand the huge potential. And the fact that Studio generates a bundle, which itself contains only contributions to extension points, and that you can read this XML configuration, is incredibly powerful.
In a project we did recently, Nuxeo loaded 734 bundles -- it was completely modular. We have a functional richness tied to this, and we can easily extend Nuxeo in one way or the other. I mean you can add functionalities or remove those you don't want, or change them in a very clean manner. This is a really good point when you ask yourself how to maintain these applications over time. We are reassured because of the platform’s architecture.
We’re not going to ask ourselves existential questions about version upgrades, hot fix installations, you know, things like that. Globally it becomes routine, which is not the case for other products. Voila.
Another great thing about your work with Nuxeo is your first code contribution -- the Kerberos authentication module. Is Open Wide open source all the way?
Open Wide is only open source. The open in Open Wide means open source. Contributing the code we write is part of the company's DNA. It's also a completely rational choice in that we don't want to duplicate the version management and maintenance that a vendor does naturally, and better than we do.
And don't forget that what you contribute is then maintained by Nuxeo :)
Exactly! That's another way of saying it.
If you could have three wishes for the Nuxeo Platform, what would they be?
- I’d like to see an improvement in the rendering quality of the preview module. This comes from the choice to have an HTML-based preview instead of an image-based preview.
- I’d like to have the drag-and-drop upload form customizable with Studio.
- I’d like to have all of the elements from the social collaboration and digital asset management modules exposed in Studio's application template, so we don't have to redefine the picture type, for instance.
You live in Lyon, France. What is Lyon like?
Actually, I’m in Paris 80% of the time, and Lyon 20%, and I spend a lot of time in the TGV (the fast train in France). But Lyon is a beautiful city; I've lived there for six years. A good thing is that it's more compact than Paris, so you can do everything on foot, very easily. Plus, you eat really well there!
What do you do in your free time, other than coding and contributing to Nuxeo?
Well, I code and I contribute to Nuxeo every weekend. This is all I do every weekend. [Laughs] No, seriously though... I read a lot. I have a three year old son and a full-time job. I also participate in micro-publishing projects for science fiction books by helping with the proofreading and reviewing process.
Can you give us a favorite book or author?
I just finished a science fiction book by Laurent Whale, called The Stars Don’t Care (Les Etoiles s'en Balancent) and it was “une pure merveille” - a joy to read.