ONE UI - IBM Content Navigator as an application framework
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Marcel Kostal is an ECM Solution Consultant with IBM Software Group. He has more than 12 years of experience in designing, developing and delivering J2EE solutions. For the past five years, he has focused on ECM solutions primarily in banking sector. His areas of expertise include solution architecture, application design, implementation, integration, and technical enablement with IBM FileNet P8 product suite.
IBM Content Navigator (ICN) is no longer just a unified and cool user interface for your enterprise content management (ECM) solution that allows you to extend its functionality via plug-ins. No no -- It is more than that! It is an application framework that provides tools and interfaces that allows you to build customized user interface and applications to deliver value and an intelligent, business-centric experience. Ha??? If you do not understand the last sentence, don’t worry. Just keep reading. I will explain – hopefully then you will understand.
First, let’s take a look at IBM Content Navigator architecture, to understand the available development options and ICN interfaces.
IBM Content Navigator architecture
Here it is….
I wish the picture is self explanatory so I don’t need to write anything more, but adding all the information into one static picture can be quite confusing and a mess.
If you remove the colors from picture, an important thing becomes clear -- the layers:
The Mid-tier Services provides the REST services for accessing the underlying repository, configuration database or your own custom backend system. Although this interface is not made public for you to use it directly, you can extend it with your own services or modify and replace existing services by intercepting the requests and responses messages.
Now, if you put the colors back in the picture, you see the yellow boxes spread around the picture. They highlight the places where you can implement your own code and create new or customize existing front-end application.
Let’s look at them in more details:
1. Configuring ICN
If you are searching, where’s the yellow box for this on the picture, then stop it! You will not find it. I add this option because you can customize existing front-end application by simply configuring ICN, and it is the easiest way to change the appearance of ICN. Describing all the configuration options is beyond this blog. Make sure you understand them, before you start implementing something that you can simply configure without doing any coding.
2. Implementing the EDS interface
This allows you to change behavior of property edit fields on several screens in light-weight manner -- without the need to understand Java or implement an ICN plug-in. EDS is not a golden hammer! It is designed to cover just few specific use cases, so do not overuse it. Typical EDS use cases include:
3. Implementing a plug-in
As you can see on the picture above, the plug-in goes through all the layers. Therefore, it is the most powerful and flexible approach for customizing user experience within your solution. It enables developers to add new functionality, change existing behavior and appearance of the application or create completely new application.
A plug-in consists of one or several extension points that can be split into two groups:
4. Developing or integrating custom application
ICN provides two main approaches for integrating custom applications:
5. Delivering mobile access
Everybody wants it. And not just on iOS. Everybody wants to have access to corporate systems, including ECM applications from their mobile devices. ICN provides two options:
So, that’s the framework, described in short.
If you are interested, and need more information, check out the IBM Content Navigator Redbooks publication.
For IBM Content Navigator related blog posts, see:
For IBM Content Navigator Redbooks publication, see: