By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2004-08-02 Print this article Print

Formerly known as Merant Collage (before Merant was acquired earlier this year by Serena), Serenas Collage 4.5 is an intriguing application that provides many of the benefits of lower-end products without sacrificing the features and scalability of higher-end systems.

Collage 4.5 seems like a lower-end product at first, mainly because its installation and setup are so quick and painless. But a second look shows that Collage has the broad platform support (running on Linux, Unix and Windows servers); extensive database support; and interoperability features such as support for LDAP and Active Directory that are more typically seen in high-end systems.

Logging in to the browser-based interface that is used for content editing and contribution and for administration tasks, we were impressed with the clean layout and high functionality. For the most part, all the administration tasks we needed to perform were simple to figure out and apply.

However, when it came to defining some settings—especially workflow, user roles and permissions—things became a bit more complex, mostly because of the detailed, specific approach Collage takes to workflow and task completion.

The product has a capable process for creating workflows. These workflows were not as complex as those in some other Web content management products, but they would easily meet the needs of most Web sites and intranets.

Users contributing and editing content will appreciate the intuitive and interactive Collage interface. We found it easy to track all our tasks and responsibilities and manage our content.

The interface performs well in most browsers and includes an integrated WYSIWYG editor that works with IE and Netscape. The product also has excellent support for external editors such as Macromedia Inc.s Dreamweaver.

We did find one quirk with the interface after it failed to work during all our initial trials. We discovered that our Web browsers were treating Collage as a pop-up ad and blocking it because of the scripting used by the content management system. Once we added the Collage server to our allowed sites, everything worked properly.

Collage 4.5 does a much better job than previous versions of pushing content out to live Web servers; Collage now provides much more control over which content is deployed to the Web servers and when.

Pricing for Serena Collage 4.5 starts at $45,000.

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Jim Rapoza, Chief Technology Analyst, eWEEK.For nearly fifteen years, Jim Rapoza has evaluated products and technologies in almost every technology category for eWEEK. Mr RapozaÔÇÖs current technology focus is on all categories of emerging information technology though he continues to focus on core technology areas that include: content management systems, portal applications, Web publishing tools and security. Mr. Rapoza has coordinated several evaluations at enterprise organizations, including USA Today and The Prudential, to measure the capability of products and services under real-world conditions and against real-world criteria. Jim Rapoza's award-winning weekly column, Tech Directions, delves into all areas of technologies and the challenges of managing and deploying technology today.

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