Review: Rhythmyx 5

Percussion's Rhythmyx 5 provides all the flexibility and capability we'd expect from a high-end content management application, without sacrificing usability.

Rhythmyx 5

Percussions Rhythmyx 5 provides all the flexibility and capability wed expect from a high-end content management application, without sacrificing usability. Excellent standards support and customization options mean it can meet almost any sites needs. Rhythmyx 5 is priced reasonably for a high-end content management system, although its higher than most enterprise applications.
















  • PRO: Good usability for administrators and content editors; good static content deployment tool; highly customizable; very good standards support.
  • CON: Couldnt compare revisions of unpublished content; some glitches in Java interface.

• Bricolage • Documentum Inc.s Documentum • FatWire Corp.s UpdateEngine • Vignette Corp.s Vignette

When we last looked at Percussions Rhythmyx, it was clearly a midrange content management system, but it was probably the best midrange content management system available. With Version 5, Percussion has completely overhauled the system to the point where it can stand up to any other high-end content management system.

Although Rhythmyx 5 is clearly now a high-end system, it has not made that move at the cost of usability. In fact, Rhythmyx 5 has greatly increased the usability over previous versions, for content contributors and for site administrators and developers alike.

Pricing for Rhythmyx 5 is also now much more high-end, if still less than many competing high-end content management systems. Average pricing for the Rhythmyx Web content management system is $150,000, and the entire enterprise content management suite costs about $250,000. The server components of Rhythmyx are Java-based and run on Unix and Windows servers.

One of the biggest changes in Rhythmyx 5 is Content Explorer, which is the main interface for administrators as well as for most content contributors and managers. This browser-based Java interface provides a fully functional GUI that made it simple to manage content that we were creating or editing, to handle workflow and approvals, and to manage multiple sites.

We found this interface to be very well-designed. Even though it was completely new to us, we were able to find our way through all its options in a short time. Our only gripe is that the Java interface hung on some systems during our testing, requiring us to refresh the page.

One especially welcome new feature made it possible for content editors to directly compare different revisions of the same content. Using this feature, we could open up different versions of content and see a color-coded representation of all changes. One oddity here is that Rhythmyx defines revisions only after content has been published, meaning that a content creator could not use this to compare early drafts of content. We could change this through an undocumented configuration change.

On the administration side, another very nice new feature is Enterprise Content Connector. This stand-alone Java application made it possible to easily upload static content directly into the content management system. This is very useful both for moving existing Web sites during initial implementation and for regularly incorporating external content into the system, something that can be difficult in many other content management applications.

Rhythmyx 5 now includes a Microsoft Word add-on for content contributors, which, in addition to its use of Ektrons eWebEditPro, makes it very simple for novices to contribute content to the system. In addition, a new document management module makes it possible to manage a variety of content and file types within the system.

Also new in this version is the Relationship Engine. In large and complex Web sites, content relationships can vary greatly, such as between different language versions of the same content or for content cloned across individual sites.

With the new engine and its Java GUI tool, site developers can create and customize unique content relationships. Getting accustomed to this takes some time, but we found the accompanying documentation to be very useful.

Rhythmyx has always provided solid support for XML and Web standards, and Version 5 continues this tradition, with excellent support for XML, Simple Object Access Protocol and Web services throughout the application. Several prebuilt connectors to business servers and applications are available. Given the open basis of Rhythmyx, we found it to be extremely customizable and flexible.

East Coast Technical Director Jim Rapoza can be reached at