A space in Alfresco is nothing but a folder that contains content as well as sub spaces. The space users are the users invited to a space to perform specific actions such as editing content, adding content, discussing a particular document, and so on. The exact capability that a given user has within a space is a function of their role, or rights.
Let’s consider the capability of creating a sub-space. By default, in order to create a sub-space, one of the following must apply:
- The user is the administrator of the system
- The user has been granted the Contributor role
- The user has been granted the Coordinator role
- The user has been granted the Collaborator role
Similarly, to edit space properties, a user will need to be the administrator or be granted a role that gives them rights to edit the space. These roles include Editor, Collaborator and Coordinator.
Space is a smart folder
Space is a folder with additional features, such as, security, business rules, workflow, notifications, local search capabilities, and special views. The additional features, which make the space a smart folder, are explained as follows:
- Space security: You can define security at the space level. You can designate a user or a group of users who can perform certain actions on the content in a space. For example, on the Marketing Communications space in the Intranet, you can specify that only users in the marketing group can add content, and other users can only see the content.
- Space business rules: Business rules, such as transforming content from Microsoft Word to Adobe PDF and sending notifications when content gets into a space, can be defined at the space level.
- Space workflow: You can define and manage the content workflow on a space. Typically, you will create a space for the content that needs to be reviewed, and a space for the content that has been approved. You will create various spaces for dealing with the different stages that the work flows through, and Alfresco will manage the movement of the content between those spaces.
- Space events: Alfresco triggers events when content moves into a space, when content moves out of a space, or when content is modified within a space. You can capture such events at the space level, and trigger certain actions, such as sending email notifications to certain users.
- Space aspects: Aspects are additional properties and behavior that can be added to the content, based on the space in which it resides. For example, you can define a business rule to add customer details to all of the customer contract documents that are in your intranet’s Sales space.
- Space search: Alfresco search functions can be limited to a space. For example, if you create a space called Marketing, then you can limit the search to documents within the Marketing space, instead of searching the entire site.
- Space syndication: Content in a space can be syndicated by applying RSS feed scripts to a space. You can apply RSS feeds to your News space, so that other applications and web sites can subscribe to this feed for news updates.
- Space content: Content in a space can be versioned, locked, checked-in and checked-out, and managed. You can specify certain documents in a space to be versioned, and others not.
- Space network folder: Space can be mapped to a network drive on your local machine, enabling you to work with the content locally. For example, by using CIFS interface, a space can be mapped to the Windows network folder.
- Space dashboard view: Content in a space can be aggregated and presented using special dashboard views. For example, the Company Policies space can list all of the latest policy documents, that have been updated in the past one month or so. You can create different views for Sales, Marketing, and Finance departmental spaces.
Why space hierarchy is important
Like regular folders, a space can have child spaces (called sub spaces). These sub spaces can have further sub spaces of their own. There is no limitation on the number of hierarchical levels. However, the space hierarchy is very important for all of the reasons specified above, in the previous section. Any business rules and security defined for a space is applicable to all of the content and sub spaces within that space.
Your space hierarchy should look similar to the following screenshot:
A space in Alfresco enables you to define various business rules, a dashboard view, properties, workflow, and security for the content belonging to each department. You can decentralize the management of your content by providing access to departments at the individual space levels.
The example of the Intranet space should contain sub spaces, as shown in the preceding screenshot. You can create spaces by logging in as the administrator. It is also very important to set the security (by inviting groups of users to these spaces).