Three Fundamental CMIS Use Cases

I’ve been meaning to get this done for a while.  Over the last year, I’ve run into people that saw a need for CMIS as a whole, but didn’t think that it mattered for them.  Usually, the reason was that they only saw one use case for CMIS.  Well, there are three fundamental use cases for CMIS, with multiple examples for each.

To facilitate understanding of the use cases, I have created a presentation which I have placed up on SlideShare.  You can go directly to The Point Of The Content Interoperability Services (CMIS) Standard, or view the embedded version here and read the elaboration of the use cases below.

The Three Fundamental Use Cases

Here are the three use cases described in the presentation with some specific examples.  These are just a starting point for the discussion. Cases added after the initial post are in italics.

  • Repository-to-Repository (R2R): This is where content repositories talk directly to each other.
    • Managing Records centrally that are stored in other repositories.  This is typically called Federated Records Management but is different than the Federated use-case.
    • Publishing content from one repository to another. A common scenario is publishing content from a collaboration/ECM system directly to a WCM system for publication to the Intra/Internet.
  • Application-to-Repository (A2R): This is where an application that uses content is plugged-into a content repository to handle all content services.
    • SharePoint as a front-end.  If implemented, SharePoint can become the front-end and any other repository can be the back-end.  This would address the existing SharePoint scalability issues without impacting the user experience.
    • Collaboration systems. All the new Enterprise 2.0 systems, and existing collaboration applications, could use a robust back-end to provide more features such as de-duplification and records management.  This is the same as the SharePoint use-case, just generalized.
    • Enterprise Software Applications. Be it BPM, CRM, or any number of applications used by companies, content is becoming a larger part of those systems.  Having a central place to manage the content and apply consistent rules is becoming critical.
    • Content Enabled Vertical Applications (CEVAs). As I’ve discussed before, CMIS can really make life easier for CEVA vendors.  Let the domain experts build a solution for the industry and let them plug it into any content system to manage the content.  This frees the CEVA vendor from having to worry about the content or maintaining so many interfaces.  That means more R&D money for real features.
    • Productivity applications. Why not link Word, Excel, Open Office, or any desktop application to a repository using CMIS? Sounds lika a good way to write a portable integration, similar to the ODMA days. [Added 8/17/2009 thanks to Twitter comment from @billtrippe]
  • Federated Repositories: This is where an application talks to many different repositories while presenting a singular interface to the user.
    • Federated Search. This is basically what the iECM demo demonstrated.  One search hitting multiple repositories.
    • Federation instead of migration. Any application can interact with multiple repositories.  Instead of migrating all content from an old repository immediately, just have the interface interact with the legacy repository(s) until they are migrated or out-of-date.  The application can store new content in the latest repository by default.

Collecting CMIS Use Cases

AIIM’s iECM committee is collecting use cases for CMIS.  We are looking for specific examples, not just the generalized use cases documented here.  If you have one that you would like to add, please add a comment and I’ll make sure that it is captured and share it with everyone.  Any and all feedback is welcome.

This is going to be our standard, so let’s make sure that we document what we need it to do, both with 1.0 and in the future.

11 thoughts on “Three Fundamental CMIS Use Cases

  1. Sascha Ohler says:

    Would you mind expanding on this use case? I think this is a very important one.
    Thank you.

    “Content Enabled Vertical Applications (CEVAs). Let the domain experts build a solution for the industry and let them plug it into any content system to manage the content. This frees the CEVA vendor from having to worry about the content or maintaining so many interfaces. That means more R&D money for real features.”


  2. Good morning,

    After some nightly thought, I think we perhaps could add:

    I2R: Indexes-to-Repositories: this is where a content crawler or robots talk directly to the repository to ingest content
    – Unified Search: Federated Search could be sometime a solution, but when dealing when large amounts of content a unified search could be better (cf: Automony comment on that). This could also be a way for crawlers to digest private or unpublished content. Semantic searches would also be able to access to metadata and associations (tripples) on systems which do not support RDF(a) or similar.

    R2R: Migration
    You mention it on the Federated Repositories Space. But it may also be a convenient way to rapidly migrate content items from one silo to the other. Companies are acquired or sometimes wants to change their systems (or unify their constellation of CM products under one single umbrella) and, even if they could manage some kind of federation of repositories, they might look at more easy and convenient ways to migrate their content from one repo to the other.

    Federated Repo:
    – CMIS bridges to access legacy or proprietary applications. It would be interesting to see if there is the development of CMIS bridges on top of applications or API which are (or do not want to be) compliant with CMIS. For example it would be nice to have a TwitterAPI-to-CMIS. But the same is true for some legacy applications which could not be modified anymore.
    – Semantic ETL Aggregation: Dealing with several federated repositories immediately raise the concern of dealing with some kind of “unified common ontology”. There are little or no chance that all repositories are using the same sets of taxonomies to describe their content. There will be a multiplication of tags, categories, metadata,…. in a federated universe (notion of LinkedData in the semantic universe). A semantic CMIS could help find duplicates, generate dynamic cross-repositories associations, etc…

    I will add others (if any) when I will get more inspiration 😉


    • Thanks. I’ll add your thoughts. I think some are slight variations of what has already been written, but others are new use cases. Thanks for your help.



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