Alfresco (Application) Development Framework also known as ADF is the “new” hype regarding front-end applications with Alfresco. Alfresco and various community members has recently made a big fuss about this thing called ADF, claiming it’s the new next big thing in Alfresco.
Prior to ADF
Before ADF you’d use the out-of-the-box and ready-to-go front-end application known as Alfresco Share. Usually customers and partners would spend time customizing and extending Alfresco Share in order to fulfill their business needs. Making customizations in Share could at times be very time consuming and difficult. Another option was to create a custom client from the ground up and have the application talk to Alfresco via REST-services.
This is where ADF comes in. ADF is a framework helping developers create their own unique front-end application that can run Alfresco Content Services and Alfresco Process Services under the hood. It is built on familiar standard technology such as Angular2, Node.js and npm. The difference with ADF and building a client from ground up is that you get a set of finished modular components such as login page, document list, search, viewer and more (see resources for a full list of components and documentation).
Alfresco is continuously adding more components and features. There’s also community developed components being developed daily, most recently is an ADF chat component that was created during Alfresco Global Hackathon 2017
With ADF you can define which components you are interested in and get a skeleton project up and going on the get go, removing the initial planning and time in the setup/start of a project.
Reasons to use ADF
So why should you use ADF over the shipping client known as Alfresco share? One reason is that you are probably not interested in all the potentially bloated features Share provides. With ADF you can relatively quickly deploy a custom, minimalistic client for your business needs. Another reason is that Share may not fulfill your business needs and thus heavy customizations will be needed which is when ADF would be a better choice as customizing ADF is easier.