Several years ago, Macromedia Inc. representatives came to what was then PC Week Labs to pitch a product called Dreamweaver, which they said would make it easy for anyone to create Web content without having to learn HTML. Over the years, that product morphed into a high-end Web development platform that can easily intimidate Web development novices.
Probably realizing it no longer had a low-end product for novices, Macromedia returned recently with the same old pitch for a new product, Macromedia Contribute, which the company said will make it easy for anyone to create Web content without having to learn HTML.
eWeek Labs first thought Contribute was simply a throwback to the old pure-WYSIWYG editors that gained prominence in the late 1990s. But during testing, the product proved to be more powerful and flexible than its forebears.
In addition to standard WYSIWYG in-place editing and drag-and-drop support for Microsoft Corp. Word and Excel documents, Contribute includes nice administrative options that make it possible to lock content from changes, apply Dreamweaver templates and control the editing workflow. This enables businesses to deploy Contribute to novice content contributors while maintaining a level of control.
Although Contribute can connect to a Web site through FTP or a network share, we would like to see support for WebDav, which is being used by many businesses and ISPs to enable access to Web site files.
Contribute, which is currently available only for Windows systems, is priced at $99. Users interested in the application can download a trial version at www.macromedia.com.