The biggest surprise of EMC World so far was presented in the Tuesday keynote but for some reason the buzz wasn’t going around. I was asked last night if I had seen the Magellan demo but as I had only arrive that afternoon I had missed it. I also didn’t know that the keynotes were being published on YouTube. Had the question come from anyone else I would have thought “ho hum”, but when this gentleman makes an enthusiastic statement you pay attention. So I had my quest for Wednesday. What I found brought me back to Documentum circa 1999.
Magellan shows a much needed change in the thinking at Documentum. One size, no longer fits all. Previous iterations of Documentum web UI’s have always started with a full featured application and then grayed out to limit features a user would not use. But what was forgotten was all these gray menu options were really a lot of clutter making the product look complex. Magellan finally changes this and creates a UI for casual users. That’s right power users have Webtop and casual users will have their own.
The user interface is clean with simple document lists to show content within a directory with only a handful of attributes presented (but these can be customized). Gone are the list of menu options that make the Webtop UI look like the old Workspace Windows client. But the system also presents Web 2.0 functionality in that a second window shows discussions on the project or individual document.
Better still the UI is not only clean but sexy. Learning from the best in UI, Magellan adds interfaces introduced by Apple for iTunes and iPod. In addition to standard thumbnail directory views, Magellan offers a browse option similar to Cover Flow. While search adds a filtering option similar to that in iTunes for finding a song based on a genre and artist.
With the beta of Magellan still a few months out it doesn’t, it doesn’t make sense to look at the demo feature by feature. But what it does show is that EMC is listening. Finally a UI that is as clean and simple as Alfresco and SharePoint and a bonus that it’s as sexy as an iPhone. And I for one want to say, thank you for listening.