Macromedia, Ektron balance functionality, affordability
Usability, easy integration distinguish Ektron CMS400.Net and Macromedia WPS
The CMS (content management system) market remains top-heavy with expensive, complex solutions, such as Documentum, Interwoven, and Vignette. There’s little question they have a place in large organizations that have document management and other sophisticated publishing needs.
But many enterprises simply want to ease the management of their Web site content -- a task that, increasingly, has become the forte of low-end CMS products from companies such as RedDot and hosted CMS providers such as CrownPeak and Atomz.
To find out whether products in this range have what it takes, I ran Ektron’s CMS400.Net 4.5 and Macromedia’s WPS (Web Publishing System) 1.0 through a series of tests to build, publish, and maintain a typical Web site or intranet.
Both products are up to the task -- but with discernible differences. Macromedia’s WPS requires a full client application to deliver top-notch usability. If your needs don’t go far beyond editing and publishing pages, you can’t go wrong for the price.
On the opposite pole, CMS400.Net shows it’s possible to have a full-blown CMS at an affordable price. The penalties I found, however, are a steeper learning curve, longer development cycles, and reliance on Microsoft back-end technology.
Macromedia Web Publishing System 1.0
WPS combines three Macromedia products: the revamped Contribute 3 client application, which allows end-users to edit Web sites; the new Contribute Publishing Services product, which allows IT managers to centrally manage access to sites; and popular Web design ensemble Macromedia Studio MX 2004, which -- Contribute 3-enabled -- eases the burden of building sites. Although pundits might first think Macromedia has simply touched up current products and called it a system, my testing showed a lot of thought and new technology went into this solution, and thus it should work very well for many enterprise Web projects.
This release works with various IT environment and Web design methods. For instance, you don’t need to create sites with Macromedia Dreamweaver MX 2004. WPS manages almost any HTML-based site, even those built with Microsoft FrontPage 2003 or those that are hand-coded. For my tests, I used Dreamweaver.
From Dreamweaver, I easily set permissions on library items, such as menus and style sheets, and on shared assets, including images, so that all Contribute editors would have read access to these elements. Because Dreamweaver and WPS share the same versioning and check-in/check-out system, I could safely make changes to layouts, and those revisions automatically flowed through to the published site.
Yet, Contribute 3 is the real core of the WPS. In general, the basic browse, edit, and publish metaphor remains unchanged. From the Contribute client app, end-users browse to a Web site, click the Edit button, make changes as they would using a Microsoft desktop app, and then press Publish to instantly update the live site.
Still, I found a number of changes that improve this experience for developers and content publishers. For instance, Contribute 3 now shares Dreamweaver’s accurate CSS rendering. As a result, text and layout changes made in Contribute 3’s editing mode appeared as they would when pages were published. Additionally, Version 3 includes the Macromedia Fireworks image-editing technology for making in-place edits to photos. I liked the ability to drag and drop text from Word and to insert video.