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09/11/2008

First Impression: Apache Lenya 2.0.2

After posting the release announcement yesterday, I decided to give Lenya a quick try and thought that this blog would be the best place to keep track of things for future reference.

Initially, I tried to install under tomcat 6 and jdk1.6 and the build failed.  Now, I don't really hold anyone responsible for this other than myself because I do not think that Lenya has been certified to work using jdk1.6.  I downloaded the latest 1.5 jdk and also the latest tomcat 5.5.27 binaries and tried again.  This time the compile completed on the first attempt.

Lenya ships with two WYSIWYG editors built in for creating XHTML documents.  One called "Kupu" is geared towards IE users and the other called "BXE" is geared towards mozilla-based browser users.  I am currently using Firefox 3.1 Alpha 2 and found that BXE did not work for me all that well at all.  Creating a test page containing dummy text copied from another page, I was unable to post the "Lorem ipsum" boilerplate text using BXE.   I switched over to Kupu while still running Firefox and paste operations worked as expected.  Again, I don't know if this is necessarily a problem with BXE or if it is due to me using the latest available binaries from mozilla.

One neat thing that I really liked about Lenya was that once I had created the sample "Hello World" XHTML document, I could then create an Open Document format document from that XHTML page.  This really highlights the publishing possibilities here where you can create some kind of online documentation and automatically generate offline documents from the online master.  Presumably, one could code things so that when the online doc was submitted, an offline version could be created as well.  Really useful for an enterprise intranet--if we could generate Microsoft Office-style documents, this could become a viable open-sourced sharepoint competitor.  Another thing I liked was that when I created an XHTML document, I actually got an XHTML document and relative links that I added into the document were published as relative links.  This means that front-ending it with a proxy that rewrites URLs won't be an issue.

Removing a document that should not have been made live was pretty easy.  All I needed to do was click a Deactivate button and the page was removed from the live site.  In Site View, there are also options to roll back to previous versions as well.  Workflow notification when content is published is present as well.  One problem I did run into was after making an edit to the sample document and trying to save it, I received an "Error 415--Check your server logs for more information" error but nothing was written to the tomcat logs.

All in all, from a content management system standpoint, Lenya looks pretty nice.  I'm already thinking that this could be a useful tool for documentation style projects like runbooks, system documentation, etc.  I think I'll be writing more about this CMS in the near-future.

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