Review: Alfresco Mobile for Android 1.0

android-smallYesterday (December 4, 2012) Alfresco released their Android app. Now the Android and the Apple/iOS platform have an Alfresco Mobile app build on top of the recently released SDK for each of their platforms. An app on top of a decent stack.

First impression: Impressed.

The basics
It just works. On my phone as well as my tablet the app starts smoothly and understands if I got my device in portrait or landscape mode. I can add multiple accounts, including the Alfresco Cloud. On the top left of the screen I can see in what space (bold) of what account (small) I am in right now. This dropdown is the (hierarchical, not historical) breadcrumb, so apart from using the back button, one can also jump a few steps back. The Alfresco logo is the ‘shortcut’ to the main menu, as described below.

main-menu

  • Activities – You can see activities against the selected repository
  • Repository – The repository browser. (Would be nice if it could be switched off by some coporate profile.)
  • All Sites (tabs for All Sites, My Sites and Favorite Sites) – Show just that
  • Search – Full text search
  • Downloads – A list of the files you just downloaded, and the option to open them in the app of your choice.
  • Help – opens a pdf (as it appeared…)

One can browse sites or repository, and find document/space details in the right panel. (For a space, select the space for a second or more.) In the right panel there is a very little thumbnail with the current most important metadata. There are options to view the content in an app of your choice; like it and share it. Below that you can see the detailed (standard document/space) properties, view the version history, view and add (!) comments, and view and add (!) tags.

In the right top of the document screen there are buttons for uploading new content, downloading content, editing metadata (name and description) and an option to delete the content. In a Space you can create new spaces, upload content, take a photo, add video or record audio.

doc-details

Phone
Also on the phone the app is useful. It will show only one panel of course, not the split screen as shown in the tablet version.

folder overview

img-details

activities  

Alfresco Cloud
The app seamlessly connects to the Alfresco Cloud (of course). You can browse your folders and documents, and more. You can switch your network. I am also a member of some sites as created by other organizations. These are other networks. Just like in the web interface where you can switch, you can do the same in the app too. How useful.

Conclusion
This is a very useful app. I am happily surprised by the breath of the functionality. A very decent version 1.0.  An SDK underneath an app makes sense :-). I think this is a solid foundation for furher growth.

My Wishlist
I understand this is the very first release of the Alfresco Mobile app on the Android platform. Alfresco did a great job. I bet they are already working on a 1.1, and here is my wishlist:

  • File sync – I like to sync a file (folder content?) so I always have the latest version of ‘something’ on my device.
  • Password protection – as described in a previous post, a tablet is often shared among the family members. It would be nice if the app could be password protected in some way to prevent the toddlers from managing corporate documents.
  • Encrypted storage for downloaded content
  • Something with file preview. Would be handy if the office formats have some sort of quick preview.

Enhancements for Alfresco’s Mobile apps in general:

  • Configure the repository in such a way that parts of it do not show up in the mobile apps. Some content inside a repo is confidential. An organization might not want these files floating around devices that can easily be ‘lost’. It would be nice if you can attach some sort of Aspect preventing that document (or all spaces underneath) from ‘showing’ in any mobile device.
  • Configure the repo in such a way that the repo-owner can decide if a mobile user can browse the Repository (instead of ‘just’ Sites). The Repository might not be meant for browsing, depending on the way the system is used. But, this can be different for each of the various repositories that the app connects to.
  • Aspects – I know it is a downside of the CMIS standard, but it would be -very nice- if additional properties as attached in Aspects against documents/folders would be visible. Just like in the web interfaces. (I wonder if a custom Type would show all props, I doubt…)

[update 20 dec 2012: changed release date in March into December…]

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