Friday, August 23, 2013

Another Handy Standard – CMIS

Content Management Interoperability Services standard (CMIS) should be considered as part of your future document content planning


As many of you know we here at the NCSC have been supporters and participants in the creation of the Oasis-Open LegalXML ECF (electronic court filing) standard since inception recently celebrating the approval of the 4.01 version.

In related news, this year marks the beginning of the Oasis-Open LegalRuleML Technical Committee that in my words, attempts to make legal documents “smarter”.  The overview of the TC states:
“The OASIS LegalRuleML TC defines a rule interchange language for the legal domain. The work enables modeling and reasoning that allows implementers to structure, evaluate, and compare legal arguments constructed using the rule representation tools provided.”
Click here to check it out.

But back to the purpose of this article: Oasis-Open Content Management Interoperability Services has been in development for a number of years after being initiated by AIIM to essentially provide a standardized way to call and put documents into repositories such as SharePoint, FileNet, Documentum, Adobe Drive, Oracle Webcenter Content, Xerox DocuShare, and open source systems such as Alfresco.

The Wikipedia article on CMIS summarizes the technical part of the standard (and yes, non-tech readers can skip this quote):
“Specifically, CMIS defines an abstraction layer for controlling diverse document management systems and repositories using web protocols.
CMIS defines a domain model plus web services and Restful AtomPub (RFC5023) bindings that can be used by applications. OASIS, a web standards consortium, approved CMIS as an OASIS Specification on May 1, 2010. CMIS 1.1 has been approved as an OASIS specification on December 12, 2012.”
The open source Apache Software Foundation Chemistry Project provides a good place to explore, learn about the standard.  And if you are a programmer, it provides programming code in Java and PHP and an Alfresco document repository to test things.

Now why is this potentially important?  Because as we discussed in our CCMS series article on documents, they are an integral part of the case management software solution as they are a rich source of data that support all manner of decisions by judges and others.  Documents production, data, and now interoperability contained therein should thus be integrated as part of the CCMS.

But there are additional technical issues that often must also be addressed such as shared security and access.  This is where document management systems can help since they can be provided as a separate systems resource from the CCMS.  This in turn allows for additional levels of sharing and collaboration with other government agencies that may not necessarily be allowed within the courts security rules*.

Another possible use is when there is a legacy electronic document system that you wish to access from the new system.  Standards such as CMIS also help to reduce proprietary vendor lock in by eliminating the need to migrate documents and data from the old to the new systems.
CMIS can also be used to shorten difficult CCMS/document integration program development.  We have found that it is relatively simple to use and “plug in” to a user interface.

So our advice is to check it out.  It can’t hurt. And if you have used CMIS in your work, please feel free to share your experience in the comments below.

* reference: Three Reasons to List CMIS in your Document Management RFP

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