Book Review – Documentum Content Management Foundations (Pawan Kumar)

September 12, 2007 at 8:56 am | Posted in Book Reviews | 4 Comments

I was very pleased to see that Packt Publishing have started producing Documentum books (they also have released ‘Web Content Management with Documentum’). There really is a crying need for good quality Documentum books to help explain what is often a complicated suite of products.

This book is styled as a Study Guide for ‘EMC Proven Professional Certification Exam E20-120’. In addition it is intended to act as ‘a handy guide and a quick reference’ to the technical fundamentals of Documentum. So how well does it achieve these goals?

The book follows a typical certification exam study guide format of each chapter starting with text explaining concepts followed by typical test questions. The text is highly readable and is accompanied by clear and useful diagrams. At the end of the book there are 2 Practice tests that cover all the material (answers to these tests and the chapter tests are provided at the end of the book). My impression was that the questions are well thought out and effectively tested understanding of the concepts. The only improvement here would be to have even more test questions. Actually Pawan also maintains a website ( where further test questions can be found along with tips and resources to support the book.

Occasionally I thought that it would be useful to have more worked examples. For example object security in Documentum is reasonably complicated when first encountered and a wider range of example scenarios would help to make the subject matter stick. One area that doesn’t seem to be covered at all is Jobs and Methods. I would be surprised if this wasn’t tested at all in the exam and someone using just this book would be underprepared in this area.

Most of the technical information in the book seems to be accurate and I was certainly surprised by how many little details I didn’t know (e.g. the rather confusing way Documentum numbers branched versions). There is one major error in chapter 4 which looks at the Architecture of a Documentum system and how the components interact. The fundamental communication pattern describes DFC on the client communicating with DFC on the Content Server. This is just wrong – there is no server-side DFC involved. Yes, DFC will be installed on the Content Server but it is there for clients running on the server. If you removed DFC from the Content Server, remote DFC clients would still work in the same way. Even more confusingly the diagram that accompanies the description shows a communication pattern involving both DMCL and DFC on the Content Server. Perhaps it is best to refer to my description of the Communication Pattern. However this was the only significant error I found.

[Update 13 Sept 2007: Pawan has pointed out that the book text is based on the diagram and description contained on p52-53 of the Documentum System Development Guide. That is certainly true. The only thing I can say is to repeat the following advice given to Cary Millsap by his father at the beginning of every school year

‘There are two answers to every question your teachers will ask you while you’re in school. There’s the correct answer, and there’s the answer that the teacher wants. I expect you to know them both.’

(taken from Optimizing Oracle Performance, Cary Millsap with Jeff Holt);]

All in all I would recommend this as a useful aid to someone studying for the exam. Well done to Pawan and Packt Publishing for producing this book; let’s hope that Packt will invest in a further improved and extended edition and indeed further Documentum books; and let’s hope that this encourages other publishers into the sector.

Update: you can check out any corrections or updates on the Packt Publishing site at


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  1. The review points out an error in the Architecture chapter. However, the information in the book is consistent with EMC Documentum documentation.

    Please see the EMC documentation reference here –

  2. […] does DFC work? In my review of Documentum Content Fundamentals I made the comment that the section describing how a DFC-based client communicates with the Content […]

  3. I too am glad to see Packt begin to publish Documentum books, even if they are expensive, but they are not the first. There has been a Documentum how-to book around for three years.

  4. Scott, apologies I should have listed your book in that review (after all it’s on my bookshelf).

    It’s fair to say that much of the book is not relevant to the latest releases of Documentum as it is aimed at development with Desktop Client, however it is certainly packed with the sort of gems that are only picked up from years of experience. For example the section on Recursive Processing Of Collections would be relevant to a current discussion thread on exactly this topic in the EMC Support Forums.

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