By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2004-09-20 Print this article Print

When it comes to managing a company Web site or intranet, the choices can be daunting and confusing for businesses, which must choose from a wide range of Web content management options or opt for standard Web development and authoring tools.

Macromedia Inc.s Web Publishing System, released last month, gets rid of this either-or scenario. eWEEK Labs tests show Web Publishing System provides the centralized management and controls of a content management system while still using the superior development, editing and layout options provided by a tool-based approach.

Web Publishing System unites Macromedias new Contribute 3 authoring tool and its Studio MX 2004 products with new publishing services that make it possible to centrally connect and manage content being published to a site.

Click here to read Labs review of Studio MX 2004. With Contribute 3s short learning curve and improved capability linked to able access controls and workflows, Web Publishing System can be a good choice for some companies but not for organizations with more complex sites that are frequently updated. These companies will need a more robust enterprise Web content management solution. (Web Publishing System can be used effectively in conjunction with such a solution.)

Although Contribute 3s client-based approach provides Web Publishing System with easy usability and robust editing options, it lacks the convenience of browser-based options that make it possible to perform site edits from any system at any time.

Pricing for Web Publishing System starts at $2,499 for the Starter 10-pack, which includes 10 Contribute licenses plus a Studio MX 2004 and Contribute license for a developer, and ranges up to $24,990 for the 100-pack. This pricing makes Web Publishing System affordable when compared with content management options.

Web Publishing Systems server components work on Linux, Unix and Windows and support most Web and application servers. Contribute and Studio are available for Windows and Mac OS X systems.

The Contribute Publishing Services component is the main server component of Web Publishing System, and although the Contribute Publishing Services server creates the content management capabilities, administrators will have minimal interaction with it. Most management is done in Contribute 3.

In fact, we couldnt connect the application to our Web site through the Publishing Services module. Instead, we had to create a connection in Contribute 3, then choose Publishing Services as the management option.

Installation of the Contribute Publishing Services server component was simple, and from its browser-based interface, we could define e-mail alert settings, view the basic log information (wed prefer more robust reporting options) and define some site settings. We could also connect the system to our company LDAP directory or Active Directory system—a welcome way to manage user access.

But for the most part, users and administrators of Web Publishing System will spend their time in the new Contribute 3. This version provides a number of significant enhancements over the previous version that improve collaboration and usability.

Click here for our review of Macromedia Contribute 2. Unlike previous versions, which let users edit pages only on Web sites, Version 3 enables users to open any local HTML file for editing. Contribute 3 also supports WebDAV (Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning) for accessing files on Web sites and supports editing files in external editors. The update sports improved image and multimedia support, and the updated FlashPaper2 feature works on Mac OS X as well as Windows and can output content as Flash or PDF files.

By far, the mother lode of new features is in the collaboration and administration area. As a site administrator in Contribute 3, we could create any user role, and the product provided detailed rights and permissions options for users in these roles.

Although Contribute 3s administrative features are solid, wed like to see more of them accessible from a browser-based interface.

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

Check out eWEEK.coms Enterprise Applications Center at http://enterpriseapps.eweek.com for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions.

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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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