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Documentum Tutorial

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Today, in any organization, content management has become a tedious task as a lot of content is getting produced daily. Either it be managing some content or making its lifecycle a fruitful pitch for the company, the IT professionals have to engage a lot of their time in doing it the right way. In order to overcome the challenges faced with traditional content management techniques, Documentum has been introduced over the time. 


The organizational content can be emerged from different sources such as CRMs (Customer Relationship Management) or ERPs (Enterprise resource planning). Hence, we can simply term Documentum as a panacea to manage every kind of digital content used in the organization. Using Documentum also helps in producing a more efficient decision-making process.


Documentum works as an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) programme, which is used to store valuable content from all over the enterprise in a safe and secure place called repository. Along with the storage units, it also provides ease-of-use for controlling and organizing files. You can easily edit, recover, utilize or retrieve any important information from anywhere and anytime you desire. Furthermore, it also helps in making your document secured from external and internal risk factors. Here, in this blog, we are going to have a brief look at features, architecture, advantages, and disadvantages of this ECM platform termed as Documentum.



What is meant by Documentum?


Documentum system was developed by John Newton and Howard Shao in 1990, in order to solve the unorganized content problem using relational database technologies. Originally, this system was developed for a company ‘Boeing’ (an aerospace Company)  which has a large amount of data in the form of paper documents, information, and training manual. Its main function was to help the company in storing, maintaining, and organizing thousands of pages of information into a common repository.


The Documentum software also helps in converting paper-based documents into application-ready files allowing a user to save a lot of time, cost and effort.  Enterprise’s ECM system is used to manage the content from other applications from across the organization such as from ERP’s, CRM systems and portals. Furthermore, documentum provides insight into the organization, where you can easily view, edit or update any document shared with you through the Documentum system.


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For Example, if you are using Documentum system to edit a file you can “check it out” provided no other member of the company is editing the file. It also blocks others from editing the same file if you are editing it. Moreover, you are also allowed to check out the previously made edits on the document and by whom those edits were made. For us, the users, it looks like the system stores only one single file. 


However, Documentum does have all the previously edited versions of the file. You can also add a small comment mentioning what edits you have made, to differ the current versions from the previous ones. The current version of the ECM in the market is known as Documentum D2 16.4 released in 2018.


Advantages of Documentum


Here are a few advantages of using Documentum instead of any other Content Management Software.


  • Flexible and Supportive Content Capabilities: Documentum’s most advanced ability includes workflow features, lifecycle, and auditing which can be used as per your requirements. 
  • The Spreadsheets are controlled and organized: Its system is configured in such a way that it makes the creation and control of highly complex and important documents easier and simpler than any other CMS.
  • Personalized and User-Friendly: As it has the capability to adapt according to the requirement, it makes the interface very much user-friendly. 
  • Highly Configurable Documentation: It also has the feature of configuring documents according to specifications provided.
  • Advanced Usability for Virtual Documents: This system helps in simplifying the use of virtual documents (i.e. a document containing parts of other documents from different authors), throughout the organization.
  • Enhanced User Interface: Widgets and easy-to-use tools help in navigating the software faster.
  • Automated Features: Numbering system or naming a file are made automated which helps in reducing time and efforts.
  • Security: EMC enforces a high level of security as these files are kept safe in the software’s controlled repository and also organized.
  • Smarter Display of Content: Documentum provides a smarter way of viewing content. It previews the content in thumbnail form, that helps in a search operation for any document.
  • Search Engine: EMC also has a search engine similar to the web search engine i.e. user can look for the file by looking for a certain keyword or phrase.
  • Workflow: Other than routing of documents within the Documentum system, you can also communicate through Inbox. You can look at all the files you want and can approve or reject any file in the system. 
  • Event Notification:  EMC’s system also provides a real-time update notification which provides you with a notification for all the changes made in the documents and by whom these changes are made by.

Documentum Architecture


The architecture of the Documentum consists of three basic stages namely: 


  • The Client application 
  • Documentum server
  • RDBMS and File Systems

Documentum Architecture

Image source: onemanwrites.com


Client Application


Documentum system architecture generally follows the architecture of a client/server model. This is the layer where the client performs the operations such as edit, create and look up the document. 


Here in this layer, we can interact with the server layer i.e. the content server in order to get our task done. The client-side sends a request to carry out the task such as editing a file on the server or retrieving a file and the server gets the task done.


Documentum server


Documentum Content Server is a new kind of content server that was designed to simplify the task of creating or editing by using any of the documentum application. This server handles the read and write tasks for web-based client applications.


The server uses HTTP or HTTPS protocol for all communications. The logic’s from application layer is transferred to the server and then calls are made using server API’s (DFC – Documentum foundation classes) to the particular repositories.


RDBMS and File System


RDBMS (Relational database management system) is a software developed for storing a large amount of data efficiently. The application layer performs various operations on the RDBMS. These operations can be easily accessed programmatically by an individual.


Situated at the bottom layer of architecture, the RDBMS and Operating system combinedly handle every request provided by the content server layer. It then stores valuable information, in the form of tables, in a relational database.


Layers of Documentum


There are four layers of Documentum Platform. Let's have a look at these layers below: 


Services Layer


The Documentum content server is staged at the base of the Documentum platform which helps in managing the repository and implementing the core content capabilities. The content server then helps in availing these capabilities to the user with the help of the interface layer.


Services Layer

Image Source: opensenselabs.com


The Content repository uses a flexible model to store data and the associated metadata. The documents are made of content files having attributes (metadata). These attributes are collected as metadata which describes the content and the relationships between the content and other contents stored in the repository.


These metadata are then used by the user to search and retrieve the content relevant to their uses. The content stored in the particular repositories can be encrypted by the user in order to protect the data from any uncontrolled access.


Interface Layer


The interface layer is used by the web server clients to create a link and communicate with the content server and the content repositories. It is also known as the data link layer. This layer determines how a data bundles are packed and transmitted through the network. IEEE 802.2 and X.25 are some of the common link layer protocol on which the layer commonly operates.


The interface layer consists of the Documentum Foundation Classes (DFC) and many standard API’s (application programming interface),  which are used to control and access all of the functionality of the Documentum system. These API’s collective known as Documentum application programming interface (DAPI), which can be accessed even from the host of applications. 


Interface Layer

Image Source: unodc.org

Client Layer


Client layer as explained before consists of the basic application and software for client usage. These applications are used to access Documentum repository. It includes end-user interfaces, administrator tools, and integrations with popular authoring tools and enterprise applications such as Documentum desktop or WebTop.


Client Layer

Image Source: undoc.org


The components of the client layer are built on content management services available from the lower layers of Documentum architecture. The components in applications, that are built, can be common for other applications as both the web-based applications and Microsoft Windows-based applications access the same dictionary from the repository. 


Application Layer


Documentum’s application layer provides the integration of content servers with enterprise applications. It also offers several products that provide a collaboration of content management system with the application layer. Here are some products:


  • Documentum Content Services for SAP 
  • Documentum Content Services for Siebel e-Business Application 
  • Documentum Content Services for Lotus Notes Mail
  • Documentum Content Services for Portals

The link is provided with the help of content services which gives the power of all the Documentum functionality to the user. 


For example, a customer care executive using SAP or CRM application can check the customer's details, like the bill amount, the customer's segment, usage, and personal details including the phone number, address, instantly. Other than the executive, their project manager can review the operations and procedures with a single click on the report.


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Documentum Foundation Classes


Documentum foundation classes, as mentioned in the interface layer, form a higher order of API providing all the functionality of  Documentum. DFC can be defined as a cluster of Java classes that can make the functionality of Documentum server available to you by implementing a set of attributes. 


The DFC can be used in following ways:


  • Accessing the functionality of Documentum.
  • Customize the products of Documentum such as WebTop.
  • You can execute the operation by writing a method or procedure to the content server as a part of the life cycle.
  • Integration of Documentum application with third-party applications.

As DFC is based on Java, and it can easily integrate with the client programs that function on Java. In order, to run DFC API you must have a Java virtual machine (JVM) program on your system. The DFC can either be a machine that runs the content server or it can be a middle tier system i.e. application developed by the help of web development kit (WDK).


Documentum Business Objects


Documentum Business Object framework (BOF) is an object-oriented framework which can be built into DFC in order to develop a custom application. BOF in DFC have the capabilities of :


  • Extending and enhancing the core functionality of Documentum
  • Modify or add the types and behaviors of the existing Documentum. 
  • It also allows the client to add new attributes dynamically.

BOF provides the developer with the option of installing the BOF modules dynamically and directly on the storage. It allows you to use the application without adding any custom JAR files manually into each application. The dynamic usability of BOF module also provides you with the ability to update any module directly into the repository without shutting down the application. 


The reusability factor of BOF module gives you access to its modules in any type of DFC based Documentum application. i.e. you don’t have to create a new module for every application. This feature reduces the time and effort and helps the user in building the solution faster.


Documentum Business Objects


Image source: emc.com


When you create a new module in the repository system, it creates a folder named dmc_module to denotes the modules. The implementation of JAR files are then linked to the particular module in the module folder.


Life Cycles of Documentum


A lifecycle in Documentum states the different stages a document goes through during the ‘lifetime’ of that particular document. The lifecycle of Documentum gives an idea of how the changes are made in any document as it progresses through its lifetime. A lifecycle in Documentum also provides you with a notification indicating when the document gets approved by calling the custom codes and performing specific operations.


It can also automate the operations on a document for example if you want to reflect the approval_date of the particular document, a lifecycle state extension can easily automate the operation.


Lifecycles are created and maintained for the usage in any document by the help of Documentum developer studio. Lifecycles are stored in dm_policy as objects in the docbase. However, only one lifecycle can be attached to a particular document. The  r_policy_id attribute and the r_current_state attribute are maintained to store document’s lifecycle and its current state respectively. 


What is meant by Web Services?


The DFC and BOF provide developers with the binding of custom made business logic’s that are referred to as the Web Services of Documentum. These custom logic are responsible and are used to call the functions on another document across the internet or in any organization i.e. intranet. 


For example, SAP in any organization’s system can communicate with the help of Documentum web services. This functionality of a content management system provides you with a vast variety of knowledge in the form of data and information. This feature also provides you with a broader understanding of the organization such as the productivity or growth of any enterprise.


The main goal of web services is to provide a one-stop-shop for enterprises by combining a bunch of systems into one easy-to-use service and making the system mono-lingual i.e. one language SOAP (simple object access protocol). This way it allows us to understand multiple systems and their functionalities using only one interface. 


In order to develop these web services over the Documentum API, developers have to work with their respective toolkits and applications. These web services are then implemented over the web servers providing their functionalities to desktop applications or any web applications.


Documentum Web-Based Applications


There are several Web-based applications that provide you with access to several different repositories. Some of these Web-Based applications are :


  • Documentum WebTop
  • Documentum Administrator (DA)
  • Documentum xCP
  • Documentum D2
  • My Documentum

Documentum Microsoft Windows-Based Applications


The Documentum Microsoft Windows-based applications work only on the offline mode on the system. It also provides you the access for multiple repositories.

Some of the popular Documentum Microsoft Windows-based applications are mentioned below:


  • Documentum Desktop: it also provides third-party integration to various Microsoft products  such as 
    • windows explorer
    • Microsoft office
    • Microsoft outlook
  • Authoring Integration Services (AIS): this is a Documentum system that works on both Windows and Macintosh systems.

Important Products of Documentum


Here are some of the important products of the Documentum system:


  • Captiva IEC
  • Captiva OEM
  • xPression Enterprise Edition
  • xPression Documentum
  • Documentum Platform
  • Documentum D2
  • ApplicationXtender
  • Documentum xCP
  • Energy & Engineering Solutions

Documentum WebTop


EMC Documentum WebTop or web desktop is a Web-Based Documentum or client application. A WebTop consists of web services, web applications, client-server applications and many more. Web desktop is similar to the environment provided by the Mac OS,  Microsoft or Linux/UNIX based systems. 


However, in Web Desktop the web applications, files, configurations, and the operations, all the functionalities are performed over the network. This provides you the access of the functionalities of Documentum remotely i.e. you can access, edit, delete or view the files anytime and from anywhere. WebTop provides an improved interface with more flexibility. 


In any large or medium enterprise, the CMS systems have an excessive amount of workload such as publishing, reviewing or sharing a large amount of information. Web Desktops helps in eliminating this workload by providing numerous settings and specific roles to the group of users based on their work groups, memberships, and location within the enterprise. With the help of WebTop, you can exclude the unnecessary features and focus on more important and particular task resulting in increased productivity and faster processing speed.


It also provides you to customize and modify the system according to your requirements eliminating the dependencies on IT departments to perform manual coding changes. The WebTops give you access to numerous amount of widgets making navigation through the system much easier.


Documentum Web Publisher


Documentum Web Publisher is a web-based application that also provides the simplification of navigation through the system. Web publisher has the capability to automate the creation and publication of documents. It uses the Content Server of Documentum to store and process content into repositories and EMC’s Site Caching Services (SCS) of Documentum in order to publish the content to the web.


The Documentum Web Publisher provides you with the power of creating, designing and managing interactive portals and websites over the web. Any Non- Technical user can also avail the benefits of web publisher as it provides easy-to-use tools and widgets that help a user to create or edit the content as per their requirements.


It also helps you in understanding and accessing the websites which are containing multiple languages by providing advanced functionalities such as navigation, lifecycles, workflows and site structure.


Documentum Digital Asset Management (DAM)


EMC Documentum Digital Asset Manager (DAM) is a powerful software which provides the administration and intellectual abilities to a client for a content management system. This management system offers full leverage over clients digital assets by enabling the usage of complete sets of a content management system provided by the Documentum systems.


Digital Asset Management (DAM) also known as Media Assets Management (MAM), Rich Assets Management (RAM) System. DAMA system can be implemented via hosting software using product suits or can be installed via deployment. 


Some of the key features and benefits of DAM are mentioned below:


  • File Transformations: Transforms the digital media into multiple formats automatically making the content ready to use over any platform.
  • Thumbnail Display: Provides the view of the files from any folder or search results in thumbnail and a magnified preview.
  • Active Preview: It can read the document containing multi page with a web styled preview or the document preview.
  • Collections: A collection of content can be created and managed by the help of this tool making the content ready to transform, or share or download in any specific formats.
  • Rendition/Relation Browsing: It can also look and collect all type of versions of a document be it a low-resolution version file or web-ready version of the file.

Features of Documentum


Here are some of the key features of Documentum mentioned that makes this software different from other content management systems:


  • Regulatory compliance:  Regulatory compliances are the guidelines that any organization have to follow. These rules are followed by the Documentum systems as it manages the content in compliance with great building practices. 
  • Secure, centralized repository: be it approval of content, reuse of content or reviewing, Documentum performs the operations by providing a secure and centralized repository.
  • Windows-based, web access: Windows-based Documentum providing software to work over the documents in offline mode. Also providing the web-based system which provides content management over the web or internet.
  • Controlled life-cycle:  Implement a lifecycle to every document in order to perform the operations on the content such as approval, reuse, and review.
  • Pure web-top extension:  Provides advanced tools and user interface (UI) availing the features of extended search power and interactive widgets to navigate through the system.
  • Collaboration and retention support:  It has provided collaborative content while also authoring the content along with retention control support.
  • Enhanced auditing: Legal requirements and satisfactory system requirements are fulfilled to make sure the chain of command.
  • Compliance control: impose a proper approval system with eSignatures to provide a compliance control system.

Benefits of Documentum


  • Role-based security system
  • Easy-to-use software with providing flexibility and faster navigation. 
  • Act as a platform and have an Ecosystem of complementary products like Imaging, Publishing and File Sync & share, etc.
  • Reusability of the content
  • Meet regulatory standards through features like Audit trail
  • The organizations can save a lot of time, effort and cost. 
  • Highly configured search engine that enables the user to access the specific document from the system.
  • Method to build/configure business rules around content like workflows and lifecycles.
  • Provides both web-based as well as Windows-based system 
  • Companies can become more productive
  • Provides better decision-making power by analyzing and producing high-quality content

Conclusion


Therefore, we have seen how Documentum can help in enhancing the growth of any enterprise. It ensures you with an effective content strategy that can match up with your document management requirements. It helps the organization in saving a lot of time, efforts and cost. 


EMC’s Documentum system can be configured through multiple channels i.e. by email, printer, mobile, desktop and many more, making it remotely accessible. With Documentum, decision-making process in an enterprise can be more effective thus increasing the productivity of the company. Lastly, the Documentum system’s security protocols ensure that the documents are accessed and utilized by the right user while also following the regulatory compliances. 


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Ravindra Savaram
About The Author

Ravindra Savaram is a Content Lead at Mindmajix.com. His passion lies in writing articles on the most popular IT platforms including Machine learning, DevOps, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, RPA, Deep Learning, and so on. You can stay up to date on all these technologies by following him on LinkedIn and Twitter.


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