By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2005-05-16 Print this article Print

As Web sites, portals and intranets have become more common and more vital to corporate infrastructures, it has become important for companies to have a platform that makes it easy for nontechnical users to contribute to these sites—without sacrificing capabilities in workflow, templating and developer features.

While many vendors of Web content management systems in the midrange and high-end categories have been busy making their products easier to use, the calling card of RedDot Solutions Corp.s RedDot CMS has always been simple usability combined with strong back-end features. Building on that tradition, RedDot CMS has gained several features that make it even easier to create and edit Web site content.

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In eWEEK Labs tests, RedDot CMS 6.1 provided extremely intuitive interfaces for editing Web pages, making it easy to perform in-line edits in our pages, drag and drop content directly to a page, and conduct live previews of our edits.

However, the product is Windows-centric, which may make it less attractive to some companies. The server component of RedDot CMS runs only on Windows servers and is based on Microsoft Corp.s Active Server Pages. Also, while we could get some interfaces to work using the Mozilla Foundations Firefox, not everything worked, and we needed to use Internet Explorer for many tasks.

RedDot CMS 6.1, released in March, is priced starting at $55,000, which places it solidly in the pricing midtier.

The installation and deployment of RedDot CMS 6.1 proved to be quick and painless. Most administration of the system is done via the browser-based Server Manager interface (which was one of the interfaces that worked only on IE).

Within Server Manager, we could perform tasks such as creating and managing projects (in RedDot, projects are basically individual sites or department pages), viewing a wide variety of log reports, and defining scheduled tasks. We could also create and manage users and groups and could define users either within RedDot CMS 6.1 or via an LDAP or Microsoft Active Directory server. Version 6.1 also makes it possible to have single-sign-on capabilities using authentication through Internet Information Services, although we had to set this up in IIS prior to installing RedDot.

Once projects have been defined, it is possible to perform detailed administration of the projects themselves using the Server Manager interface. Server Manager let us define a wide variety of standard settings for our projects. Among our favorites were the variants options, which let us deploy our content in different formats and in different languages. (The overall languages and international support in RedDot CMS 6.1 is excellent.)

In addition, a simple but welcome new feature let us publish pages with simplified naming. Content can be published to the active Web server using FTP, secure FTP and standard directory paths.

The workflow tools in RedDot CMS 6.1 made it possible for us to create detailed and varied workflows for our publishing process. We were impressed with the breadth of options and the number of ways we could choose to manage the content-creation process.

We liked RedDot CMS 6.1s visual workflow designer, although it wasnt as intuitive as it appeared at first glance, with drag-and-drop and mouse controls working in some areas but not all .

Template design in RedDot CMS 6.1 is detailed and powerful, providing a wide variety of layout, design and deployment options that arent found in many other content management systems.

However, while the templates are based on standard elements and are simple to create, the complex content class structures that RedDot CMS 6.1 uses do take some getting used to.

The user content-creation and editing features in RedDot CMS 6.1 were very good overall. Users can directly edit a page in-line, with editable sections of the page marked with—no surprise—a little red dot.

After clicking the red dot, it was simple to edit content, change keywords and properties, view versions, and carry out several tasks. It is now also possible to drag and drop content directly onto the page.

A companion application that could prove attractive to many companies is LiveServer 2.2, which integrates with RedDot CMS to provide personalized content to site visitors. LiveServer is priced starting at $45,000.

At first glance, LiveServer seems to be a strange companion to the Windows-centric RedDot CMS because LiveServer is an XML-based application that runs on Java servers and can be installed on Linux, Unix and Windows platforms.

The key points of integration are in template creation and deployment packages. Specialized LiveServer tags named DynaMents are added to CMS templates on pages where personalization is needed, and personalized content is deployed via LiveServer, rather than RedDot CMS.

Unlike collaborative filtering personalization products, LiveServer bases its personalization solely on individual visitor actions with the site. We could identify visitors using standard session IDs and then use a wide variety of customized rules to choose where and how content would be personalized.

Next page: Evaluation Shortlist: Related Products.

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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