By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2004-11-08 Print this article Print

The competitive Web content management field has seen more than its fair share of mergers and acquisitions, which have led to the demise of many good products. But some products have managed to survive and even thrive through the constant changes.

Probably the most notable survivor in Web content management is FatWire Corp.s Content Server 6.1. Content Server was originally FutureTenses Internet Publishing System (which we first reviewed in 1999) and then Open Markets Content Server, which became Divines Content Server. Despite several brushes with extinction, eWEEK Labs has found that the product has improved steadily and is now a very good option for any business looking for an enterprise-class content management system.

Content Server 6.1 is priced starting at $45,000, which puts it in the mid-range for enterprise content management offerings.

Some of the biggest improvements in FatWires Content Server 6.1, which was released last month, are its greater ease of use and more intuitive administrative controls. Added to the products always-good standards support and developer features, Content Server can now meet any number of corporate Web management needs.

Supported platforms for Content Server 6.1 are AIX, Red Hat Inc. Linux and Novell Inc. SuSE Linux, Solaris, and Windows servers. For databases, the product supports Oracle Corp.s database and Microsoft Corp.s SQL Server. Application server support is BEA Systems Inc.s WebLogic and Sun Microsystems Inc.s Sun ONE Application Server.

Most administrative chores in Content Server are carried out in basically the same browser-based interface used for most regular user tasks. Although not the best content management interface weve seen, it was still capable and intuitive. We were able to easily create templates, complex workflows and any number of custom site assets.

Access control settings in Content Server 6.1 have been extended to work outside traditional workflow processes. This useful capability let us define checkout, editing and approval rights for individual assets in our sites and limit what user roles could act on these assets.

We also liked the addition of the new Site Launcher feature, which let us deploy new sites by simply replicating an existing site. This is especially useful in intranet or corporate portal environments.

Another major new feature in Content Server 6.1 is the option to choose between two browser-based interfaces for using and managing sites. In addition to the standard Microsoft Internet Explorer-like interface, Content Server gives companies and users the option of working in a traditional portal interface where tasks are accessed in movable portlets.

We found working in both to be equally easy, once it came down to carrying out specific tasks. Choosing which one to use will depend on company preference—for example, those that already use an internal corporate portal may prefer the new portal interface.

While both interfaces can sometimes get a little busy, users should have little trouble getting Content Server up and running, then creating, editing and managing content. Like many other content management applications, Content Server provides multiple options for adding content and, also like most other products, includes Ektron Inc.s eWebEditPro rich content editor.

Click here to read Labs reviews of six Web content management products. Users can also edit content directly on Web pages using the InSite Editor feature, with which we could open small pop-up window editors to make quick content changes. Although this feature can be useful, especially for less sophisticated users, it works only for those using IE.

Labs Director Jim Rapoza can be reached at jim_rapoza@ziffdavis.com.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions.

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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