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Implementing a Dossier Management Solution with IBM Content Navigator

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Implementing a Dossier Management Solution with IBM Content Navigator




Rainer Mueller-Maechler is a Senior IT Specialist with IBM Software Group in Zurich, Switzerland. He has ten years of software engineering experience in the ECM field including consulting, design, development, installation and integration with strong focus in client development for ECM systems. Rainer has been with IBM for three years and previously worked for IBM FileNet Business Partners for seven years.  He holds a Master Degree in Computer Science of the University of Ulm.


IBM Content Navigator (ICN)  is a ready to use state-of-the art user interface for enterprise content management (ECM) solutions. It is also a framework which enables you to customize and extend standard functionality. Imagine you have to build a Dossier Management solution (in German word: Aktenverwaltung) – Can you do this with ICN? – Yes, you can! – If you don’t know how or you just want to see a compelling sample of how easy and fast ICN can be extended and adapted to get a new custom solution, keep reading….

Imaging you go to a client and make a presentation about IBM Content Navigator, telling them great stories about an excellent cutting-edge user interface experience. And the client responds: Well, that’s really nice, but our end users are used to work with special views on the documents of our customers, that we call customer dossiers. The client asks if ICN can cope with that requirement and asks you to provide a user interface similar to the following – What would you respond?



Definition of Dossiers

The basic idea of a dossier is to get a structured view of the documents in your repository according to a primary order principle like, all documents of a customer or all documents of an employee etc. The picture above shows the dossier of customer John Smith. Technically the top level folder “John Smith” represents the dossier. It consists of

  • Properties like customer name, customer number, company
  • A folder substructure to organize the dossier’s documents.

How would you respond? Something like, well, that is a challenge and I gotta ask my service colleagues ?! - Ha, no - hopefully something like “Sure, we can!”


OK, now you have made your client curious and they will ask you to give an idea, how this could be accomplished. So the question is, what do we need beyond ICN’s standard functionality? This dialog is following:


Client requirements and your responses

What basic functionality and views does your client need for the dossier management solution?


  • Client: First, we want a function to create a dossier for a new customer. All dossiers must have the same folder substructure.


  • You: We will extend the upper toolbar and add a Create Dossier Action button, which opens a customized Add-Content-Item-Dialog, a standard ICN widget for adding items to a repository. We will reuse this dialog to add the top level folder of the dossier. Create Dossier Action


  • You: This Action will trigger a custom midtier service, which will create the subfolder structure of the dossier. Create Substructure Service.


  • Client: Next, we want a view to show the dossier similar to the screenshot above.


  • You: OK. We will use the feature extension point of ICN to provide a customized browse feature pane. The only functionality we have to add is setting the root of the folder tree to the top level folder of a dossier. Dossier View Feature


  • Client: OK. To open a dossier, we first need to search for it and then open it in the provided view to work on it.


  • You: Search functionality is provided out of the box. We define a dossier search which will find the top-level folder of the dossier by providing a specific folder class and search criteria like Customer Number. 


  • You: The missing piece is an action which sets the found top level folder of the dossier as root folder for the Dossier view feature pane and switches from the search pane to the dossier view pane Open Dossier Action.


What you will implement for the dossier management solution

At the end, you are proud of having made the client happy, come home and start developing an ICN plug-in that implements following extension points of ICN:

  • An Action for creating the dossier function (add the toplevel folder)
  • A Service for creating the folder substructure of the dossier
  • A Feature showing the dossier in a customized browse pane
  • Another Action for opening a dossier and showing it up in the dossier feature pane.

Finishing up, packing the plug-in into one single JAR archive file and deliver. Done! Wow – that was easy, yeah?!

If you prefer a detailed step by step guidance, read the IBM Redbooks publication on ICN. In the book, we will explain all the extension points of ICN and provide detailed instructions on how to implement this simple dossier management scenario for your client – who is hopefully patient enough to get the solution at the beginning of 2014…..

In the book, this plug-in is implemented for both IBM FileNet P8 and IBM Content Manager Repositories.         


Additional references

For IBM Content Navigator related blog posts, see:

For more information on IBM Content Navigator, see IBM Redbooks publication:



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