Oracle 11g ECM Becomes More and Less Open

  • 5-Oct-2010

In the latest "11g" release of their ECM suite, Oracle has made some key changes that they claim will make the platform more open and less proprietary. But there's a catch.

Specifically, in earlier versions, you had to use a proprietary scripting technology (inherited from Stellent) called "Idoc" to develop a website. Like many other scripting languages, it's a combination of HTML and server-side coding.  Stellent called the overall framework HCSP  — HTML Content Server Page technology. Idoc is powerful and well loved by Stellent die-hards. However, Idoc has its limitations -- not the least of which its obscurity -- and so Oracle now offers the ability to develop applications using standard Java and JSP.

But here's the catch.

You design and develop your applications using Oracle's Site Studio tool. However, Site Studio now comes in two editions. The existing "Site Studio Designer" and “Site Studio for External Applications.” The difference hinges on whether you want Content Server to deliver your site, versus an external application.  It's only the latter use case that allows you to employ JSP to develop your applications. You still have to use Idoc if need to either

  • Customize the user interface
  • Work with Site Studio Designer as opposed to "Site Studio for External Applications."

Another architectural change that Oracle has introduced is that ECM 11G (and many other components such as Secure Enterprise Search) now require Oracle WebLogic Application Server. This has several administrative and security implications that we discuss in our WCM, ECM and Search evaluation research. Those reports also cover the Idoc versus JSP conundrum.

Oracle has been saying for some time that they also plan to support JBoss and IBM's application servers. I'm not holding my breath for a definitive timeline, but Oracle's stated desire to do this coupled with their move away from proprietary Idoc script does bode well for a more open, standards-based offering.

However, as always, do your due diligence and make sure you can get comfortable with Oracle's claims to support your existing application server (with exact patch and version) -- as well as how much of Idoc will you'll still need to code to meet your own requirements.

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