Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Effective Content Management Comes Of Age

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A great new breed of content management systems provide a lot of brave new features without requiring you to step beyond your assigned budget, or requiring you to know PHP, Perl or some other programming beast just to see the "animal" at work.

This new breed of content management systems is very effective for a large and diversified group of end users:
- individuals/professionals,
- small companies,
- international organizations,
- interest groups and associations
that need to publish and manage lots of content while being able to:

a) organize it effectively and

b) keep it extremely accessible for others to use.

These systems are ideal as intranet and extranet servers, as document publishing system and as a groupware tools for collaboration among geographically dispersed groups.

They are also extremely easy to use and provide a sophisticated integration of many community/publishing oriented features.

Compared to basic content management tools like Editize these new tools provide a set of extra features which simplify and facilitate your publishing and content management chores for more complex tasks and within more ample publishing ventures.

The tools I am referring to are content management and publishing systems that have taken the best from both the complex high end systems as well as integrating a number of direct publishing facilities that have made the present wave of bloggers so famous.

Movable Type, P-Machine, and others are outstanding examples of what even the lowest cost systems like these can do.

The new tools I am presenting here go beyond the capabilities of MT and PMachine and offer even more interesting facilities and tools for publishing and managing content effectively.

For a small or medium-size organization that needs to publish dynamic content on the Web, improve the interdepartmental communications, and needs to disseminate information to partners and stakeholders, these new content management systems are to be considered an effective publishing platform that allows easy management of the overall content structure by everyone, especially non-technical users.

Multiple authors are supported and each one can be given specific rights to use, edit, manage selected content on selected areas of your site.

Both systems support multiple languages, including Unicode characters and support for languages as Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Arabic and more.

Content management solutions like these allow independent publishers, professionals and small to medium companies to do away with most of the work traditionally done by webmasters as well as simplifying and streamlining the organization and accessibility of online content by an order of magnitude.

Key areas in which these systems can provide significant benefit to those in need of a simple Web publishing solution are:

1) Manage your content from anywhere
You can access all your information from a normal Web browser - Your content is viewable in all of the browsers, with some systems even on mobile phone browsers. This means that you can manage your intranet and public Web site from a Web browser anywhere in the world. The administration and configuration is all done through the Web as well.

2) Edit without knowing HTML
You can create, edit and change content without ever needing to write an HTML tag. On the more advanced solutions you can actually write in "preview" mode seeing what the page and formatting will look at the end. Alternatively some allow you to edit content in place on-site. Yes! You go the page where the content is published you click on it and you edit it in place. Amazing? Indeed.
The web site is updated from within the site itself - no specialised tools are needed, just a Web browser. Most of these tools work even with older browsers, so even if your organization do not use the latest in Web technology, here you have a solid solution.

3) Immediacy of updating and publishing
Now the time from concept to online is drastically reduced. A piece can be written posted, approved and made available online in the arc of minutes instead of hours or days.

4) Ability to categorize content
Content can be easily and automatically categorized according to predefined categories that you or your organization can define with maximum flexibility. In practice category additions and changes can even be made along the way without serious consequences to the integrity of your data.

5) Content distribution through RSS/XML syndication
These new breed of CMS (content management systems) effectively integrates RSS technology allowing your content to be used as a "news feed". This allows newsreaders and news aggregators to tap into your content without even needing to go on the Web. Other federated sites can easily integrate your content and republish it the moment you post it on yours. The possibilities are endless.

6) Management of multiple language interfaces
This is something that these CMS tools do not economize on. Great flexibility and Unicode support paint a rosy future for the ability of these tools to match effectively the multilanguage needs of many organizations.

7) Integrated search functionality
Search is integral to the system and does not require extra steps to make content appropriately indexed and available. Extra functionalities allow you to search across a federated network of relevant sites, or only across specified domains.

8) Integrated traffic tracking functionality
Integrated. You can track and measure traffic on your site according to a number of indicators and metrics. This is an indispensable feature if you have anuìy concern over accessibility, user-centered design, measuring reach and specific campaigns success. The effective tracking of traffic to your site also provides the means to identify and discover partners, competitors and other very valuable resources previously unknown to you.

9) Easy maintenance and updating
Maintenance is completely transparent. There is nothing to do to maintain the site, outside of publishing content, checking links to outside sites (that may change or expire) and making a backup of it all every so often.

10) Cost effectiveness
You can't beat Open Source pricing, and most of these solutions are indeed quality Open Source solutions. Even commercial ones have very affordable solutions ranging from $ 150 to $ 3500.

11) Open source advantage
Your system can be further customized by your webmaster and engineers. The large community of Open Source developers guarantees a vast array of ready-made solutions that can be easily integrated in your system.

12) Really-Easy to use
These systems are easy to use. You learn how they work in the arc of less than hour. Everything is reduced to outmost simplicity, and it is designed to be stupid-proof. I must say that I have been impressed indeed by the ease with which these systems can be adopted by a non-technical user.

13) Clean interface design
This is also something to cheer about. Most of these systems give you a Spartan look to start with that is very lean and fast to appear on slow connections. Navigation is essential and well designed. As you can customize this to your liking it is up to you not to load up too much extra "chrome" that serves no purpose at all.

14) Look and Feel customization
All of these systems are based on a template architecture. Using templates the Web site content can now be fully separated from site's presentation and style layers. You decide before hand how all of the content pages will look, as well as the bulletins, the circulars, the procedures, the news pages. The design, layout and features are embedded into the template, and you can now forget about it. You need only to focus on filling in the content and the rest is done automatically.
Much satisfaction should also come to the Communications department that will finally see the possibility of consistent looks and navigations become a real possibility.

15) Creates ownership
Users can add content, managers can manage. Letting users edit and add content lets them feel ownership towards what they publish and motivates authors and researchers in publishing their latest information promptly. Content production can be increased significantly and by utilizing so much less time and resources. This in turn leads more people to use such content management and publishing systems actively.

16) Facilitates collaboration
When editing and publishing content, you can assign other participants local roles within projects, and some tools also support versioning and staging of content.

17) User roles and rights system. Content validation.
User roles and permissions can be assigned selectively by the administrator(s) and each one gets to edit his own assigned area. Permissions are easy to implement and modify.

18) More.....
(Fill in, where I am lacking, by providing your valuable know-how in the "Comments" area at the bottom of this article.)

In my egalitarian approach to understand what would really work best in real life situations, I have first attempted to collect some information coming from the users, or rather, from those who would or could understand and suggest implementation of such systems.

Here are the most typical needs I run across when dealing with international organizations that want to improve their effectiveness and reach in online communications. Find here listed an assorted number of items that professionals working in either IT or Information Management believe to be their highest priorities to satisfy, when selecting an online publishing system or CMS (content management system):

1) Multiple languages (interface+content)

2) Contribution of metadata to multiple catalogues
( e.g. subject directory, organization catalogue, etc.)

3) Indexing in full text and/or metadata-based search engine

4) Upload to/use of publications and reports in central repository

5) Upload to/use of pictures in central repository

6) Contribution of audit trails and access logs to central location

7) Controlled vocabulary for tagging

8) Validation of specific items/terminology used

9) Versioning and rollback

10) Inclusion/export of predefined information resources metadata (e.g. project, publication, described by DTD/schema, "encapsulated" in pages)

11) Customizable filenaming conventions

12) Cross-browser compatibility

13) Standards-compliant output (e.g.: XTML 1.x)

14) Support for XML/HTML/CSS

While there may certainly be a few more items that have been left out from the above list, the above does represent a reasonable spectrum, inside international organizations, of the perceived needs and requirements for a candidate content management system.

Before I provide with two detailed reviews on two very compelling publishing solutions I would like to address the requirements listed above, one by one, in an attempt to first clarify what can be solved and revolutionized by the adoption of such tools and what would not.

1) Multiple languages (interface+content)
The solutions I point to are very well equipped to support this requirement from all standpoints. The keyword to look for in here is "Unicode". If you see that word it means that most planetary alphabets can be supported. With these solutions Arabic and Chinese do not present an issue anymore.

2) Contribution of metadata to multiple catalogues
( e.g. subject directory, organization catalogue, etc.)
This would be something to be coded ad-hoc for the specific needs of each organization. Languages, tools and methods to do this effectively while interfacing with these new CMS are aplenty. Tools are already available (and I personally use them) that allow an author to seamlessly publish his content to multiple online/intranet resources and possibly under different categories in each one.

3) Indexing in full text and/or metadata-based search engine
You can count on this. In different flavours and with many possible options, integrated search is a reality that simplifies life for both authors and users. Indexing is an integrated publishing function: when you press the "publish" button, content is automatically indexed and made available through the search engine.

4) Upload to/use of publications and reports in central repository
Again, this would be a matter of customization that can be easily implemented in any new Open Source CMS.

5) Upload to/use of pictures in central repository
Count on it. New CMSs already think along these lines. You upload images to a central repository area and you can go back and reuse those images for publishing anytime you need to.

6) Contribution of audit trails and access logs to central location
You have it. Most CMS can easily integrate such facility, already incorporate it or can include it through the use of a plug-in. The rest (transfer of files to a central location) is certainly doable through proper scripting. Not a difficult task.

7) Controlled vocabulary for tagging
This is not an integrated CMS function that you can find around. I guess that you would have to leverage some third-party tool to do this or custom program this into the system. This is not my area and I maybe proven more than wrong on it.

8) Validation of specific items/terminology used
Can be done. Must be customized for specific validation tasks and vocabulary reference to be used. Clearly another customization task that may have little to do with the publishing system per se.

9) Versioning and rollback
Available. I wouldn't see how some organizations could do without this, so yes it is a central requirement and these tools provide one or more solutions around it.

10) Inclusion/export of predefined information resources metadata (e.g.project, publication, described by DTD/schema, "encapsulated" in pages)
Yes. Once again, this is something where the organization needs to customize and clarify its specific needs and requirements. Exporting of such metadata resources does not normally come out of the box, but it can be easily integrated with custom programming.

11) Customizable filenaming conventions
Yeah. You can have it all. Filenames can be fully search engine compliant, allowing Google to index your content as best as it could and filenames can reflect titles of articles with whatever imposed limitation you may want to add on this. very flexible, extremely effective. I am using this feature fully on this very site.

12) Cross-browser compatibility
You have it. Guaranteed. Encoded. Built-in. No more need for testing. A miracle come true. Check for yourself if you don't believe me.

13) Standards-compliant output (e.g.: XTML 1.x)
Yes, as above. Built-in, encoded, transparent to the user.

14) Support for XML/HTML/CSS
Full. Built-in, encoded, transparent to the user.

You are now ready to give a close look at the two initial tools (plus a third interesting add-on for Dreamweaver) I am presenting here below. These two content management system tools are directed at those of you who need more than a personal website, blog or institutional site.

These tools provide the ability to work with communities, groups of interest, learning teams and classes, associations and teams interested in having an effective publishing space online that guarantees them maximum ease of use, demise of the webmaster as traditionally intended, extremely shortened times to publication, ease of use, and effective content organization.

Here are the first two revolutionary tools I have been looking at:

1) Plone

2) Komplete

Content Management For The Rest Of Us
= breakthrough tool
Content Management System
Open Source and Commercial License


Plone is a generic platform for web applications, as well as being a stand-alone Content Management System in itself, and has quickly become one of the biggest and most successful projects in the history of Zope.

It also integrates well with existing solutions, and complements them instead of replacing them.

Plone is fruit of the hard work of Alexander Limi, Alan Runyan, Vidar Andersen as well as several other developers in 14 countries worldwide.

Solutions like Plone enable any company, big or small, to gather all their information and resources in one central, web-accessible area. Such an approach helps foster a sense of ownership of information and documents, which is of crucial importance to keep all of your content fresh and up-to-date.

One important advantage for some is that you achieve significant publishing synergies through one unique content management platform, allowing integrated publishing to the intranet, Internet, and to other possible channels.

You can publish to different Web sites, Intranets and retain the individual differences in look and feel for the different parts, even though the content is the same.

Allowing users to directly post content is a good way of motivating authors to contribute valuable and up-to-date content. Teams can create their own home pages, online project sites, community focal points while still adhering to the selected publishing design standards. Users own the content, and a central unit controls the design; this facilitates consistency and enables powerful communication.

This ensures a 100% consistent design across the different publishing venues and Web sites, but gives more space to highlight people, services, and events.

In my view, one of key advantages of Plone is the large active community of users and developers that pro-actively supports the development and testing of additional add-ons that work with Plone.

Plone users form a very diverse environment, with users from a lot of different backgrounds, from government agencies, to research and academic institutions to international organizations.

Plone also has a uniquely strong international focus - with well-tested multi-lingual support and localization, it is ideal for international organizations.

Plone is currently available in over 20 languages, including most major European languages plus Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Arabic. Plone is fully Unicode-aware, and has a multi-lingual interface enabled out-of-the-box. (The Plone Team currently has core developers in 14 countries worldwide.)

Mike Sugarbaker reported from the OSCOM Conference at the end of October last year:

"I won't do the complete rundown of all the "competing" open source content management frameworks. I'll cut to the chase: the winner is Plone.

This "productized" take on the six-year-old web application framework Zope was the package with the most tools, the most professionalism, the most traction, and above all, the most buzz.

Plone installs easily on Windows and Unix, and has its own built-in web server - like every framework we actually saw a demo of, its interface pops up in a web browser. Like in Zope, you create folders and pages in what looks an awful lot like a file system. Unlike Zope, Plone has a complete collection of pre-coded widgets to manage things like workflow (CMS-speak for making sure you don't get anything past your editor or your boss), revision control (sophisticated Undo that reaches back forever), and live editing (fix your site from inside your site). What presenter and engineer George Runyan made the biggest deal of was the graphic design: "editors and content creators don't want to use something ugly."

Plone is also well-suited for many intranet tasks. This article outlines some of the main advantages of using Plone for such a task. This article also appears in the Zope Handbook, available in English, German and French.

Plone is built on top of the open source application server Zope and the accompanying Content Management Framework (CMF) which has thousands of developers around the world supporting it.

Plone is available under both open source (GPL) and commercial licenses,
has official installers for 12 different platforms/distributions including Windows, Unix BSD, Mac OSX, Linux, and runs on most CPU architectures available.

for more information, contact the Plone Network at:

Download Plone:

Plone documentation:

How-To section:

Sample Plone sites
Here is a good list of sites that are already using Plone.
See what they were able to accomplish.

Review by University of Hawaii
A good overview of Plone strengths and basic functionalities as reported by the University of Hawaii (high bandwidth required - low bandwidth version here, or download the video overnight and forget about it (20 MB AVI file).

Try yourself Plone right now.
Plone free live tryout online at:

The Slick Content Management System For
SOHO Businesses And Small To Medium-Sized Organizations
Komplete 2
= breakthrough tool
Content Management System
Open Source and Commercial License


Straight from Romania arrives this highly appealing content management system called Komplete. Komplete is a flexible, easy to use, XML driven Content Management System based on the Krysalis Platform.

It is designed for small or medium organization that need to publish dynamic content on the web.

For the technologically savvy Komplete relies on the powerful Krysalis XML/XSLT platform that provides great flexibility and scalability. Komplete fully supports DOM XML to ensure multiplatform operability.

Among its most outstanding features Komplete provides to the end user a very effective visual online editor that helps author and format documents with extreme ease. Komplete also uses effectively page templates to provide a more organized method to administer content publishing and to create a consistent page design throughout your site.

Among Komplete key features I would note:

Powerful templating:
Administrators can define page templates thus giving the possibility to create templated pages; -Editors can now edit templated pages content directly in the actual online pages (incredible but true); Cascading template modifications are possible (when a template is updated, it's automatically propagated in the currently edited pages).

You can see a fully editable Komplete2 online demo at

Manage site structure
Komplete allows you to visually manage the site structure. The information can be easily grouped in sections and subsections and it can be ordered and hidden at will. The structure can be changed directly from the visual representation.

Visually manage the content
Komplete uses the KTML2 visual editor as the core of the editing interface. The users have access to powerful features as:
WYSIWYG editing
Image manipulation
Paste from Word and get your code automatically cleaned up (Word/HTML code is notoriously very bad).

Note: The content can be edited currently only from MSIE 5.5 or higher. A Mozilla 1.3 version that will be released soon. The generated content works on all recent browsers.
Integrated search engine
Komplete ships with a powerful search engine that allows the site visitor search for information in the published content.
The search rules are hardcoded and order the search results after a heuristic algorithm, taking into account the keywords associated with each page.

Newsletter support
To enable more interactive communication between the company and the registered site visitors, Komplete includes the InterAKT newsletter module, a software tool used for managing e-mail campaigns.
The site administrator can manage various user categories and mail recipients (a list of categories), while the users are able to register to specific interests groups. The mail sending process is simplified by the use of a wizard and all the mails can be sent personalized per specific site user. The newsletter module also offers powerful statistics such as newsletter views and response rates.

Integrated shopping cart

Manage multiple page types
A dynamic Komplete site will allow the administrator to publish the information using custom page types, to adapt the site to the real content structure:
Simple page
Article list
News archive
Dynamic layout templates support
The site administrator can customize the homepage's main articles and the so-called "information nuggets" list dynamically, making it default for all users.
Any registered Komplete user can also customize the homepage and the nugget layout to suit his particular needs for information. The dynamic approach guarantees maximum flexibility for promoting specific site sections when information is updated.
Intuitive administration
Komplete helps the site administrators publish content with ease:
The content is reusable between various modules (pages, homepage inclusion and newsletter)

Easy access
Komplete offers a simple browser-only based interface, accessible from anywhere computer connected to the Internet.

PostgreSQL database
To implement complex features in Komplete, while preserving the information referential integrity, support is provided for PostgreSQL 7.2, the most advanced Open Source database server available.
Komplete uses the powerful indexing features from the database, implements the application logic using stored procedures and triggers, and guarantees information integrity using SQL transactions.

Based on the Krysalis platform
Komplete was built using only open standards on an open platform, Krysalis.
Based on the most powerful and used web server - Apache, together with the most versatile server scripting language - PHP, Krysalis enables enterprise level application development using the XML/XSL development approach.
As the application logic is separated from the presentation layer, changes can be easily made in the site's look-and-feel, as it is adapted to the client's need.
Supports multiple operating systems
Komplete works on Linux, Windows and other Unixes.
Differences between Lite (free) and Commercial versions:
- support for KTML3 full in the full version
- support for User roles to manage access rights
- support for multilanguage
- support for the template module (separate license)
- support for site statistics (separate license)
- support for shop (separate license)

Cost for single site commercial license

Komplete Standard:

Komplete core: USD 750
o Administration menu management
o Visual content management using KTML3 (contextual property inspector support; Mozilla support available in July 2003)
o Page types: simple page, article list, forums (all pages can have an associated forum)
o Nuggets: for simple page, article list, poll.
o Admin user roles to allow fine granulation of the access rights
o User registration
o Dynamic page footer
o Dynamic sitemap generation
o Search engine – using fulltext indexes
o Integrated installer for core upgrades and modules installations
o Krysalis standard license included.
o 3 hours of support included

Additional Modules:

o KrysalIDE - the IDE that allows you to easily modify Komplete sites - USD 250

o Visually editable templates with “in page” editing - USD 500

o Multilanguage module – USD 400

o Shopping cart (simple version with categories, make and various properties per item – available in July). The shopping cart is a special module that can be added in a website from the menu) - USD 400

o Access statistics - USD 100

o Site creation wizard (to visually select the menu layout, page layout and colors) - (available fall 2003) USD 200

o Customization support (USD 250 - 15 hours pack)

Komplete Developer license:

This includes the Komplete core and all current InterAKT Komplete modules for one year - USD 2000/year
This license includes also 10 hours of support.

Any license (standard or developer) will allow you to install customized Komplete to all their clients.

You can’t sell it online as a product, and you can’t re-brand it.
If you get the developer license, you have updates for one year, but you can’t market the product for resell – you can only offer it privately to your clients as a software service (customizing it for them). This means that you will not have the right to make public demonstration sites with Komplete, you will not have the right to change its name (re-branding), and you will not have the right to include Komplete offering in mailings or any kind of advertising. Moreover, you will not have the right to sell the core for less than the Komplete core license. – I mean you should never compete with us directly on the same market with our product unless you get the ISP license.

ISP/Reseller license:
Developer license required.
You will pay us 40% of all Komplete related sales (inclusion of Komplete in your hosting offerings). Re-branding and online sale is allowed.
ISPs get 50 hours of free support, and they also have some restrictions for the Komplete prices for the core and modules.

If a Reseller develop a module, can sell it with their price but they also have the possibility to integrate it in the InterAKT offering and have the licensing split (they will receive a share from InterAKT sales on that module).

Download by registering here the Lite version.
Komplete Lite is free for use and sharing.

Sample sites
Examples of Web sites created and maintained with Komplete2:

Online demo - tryout
Try out for free now Komplete through this online demo:

Create Basic Content Management In Dreamweaver MX
= breakthrough tool
Content Management Add-on For Dreamweaver
Open Source and Commercial License


For a developer or project manager building mid-sized web projects that wants to create content management systems or manage database information,

NeXTensio is the solution that brings productivity to the process. Unlike other software packages, our product uses a tight integration with Dreamweaver MX, automating code generation and editing.

Here I list what I have found to be NeXTension most interesting features:
Productivity, even for non-programmers
Quicker development times

Standardization - Compatibility - Accessibility
Enforcing coding standards

Rapid development of database driven web pages
The tools are useful for both advanced users (great time saver), and medium programmers (that will be able to create powerful administration sections for their websites).
Generate professionally written php code without programming knowledge.
Create custom web applications for your clients (our products helps to speed up the production process)
Ease of use
NeXTensio is very easy to use - as it does a lot of your tasks automatically

Tight database integration
Automated database introspection (detect tables and their columns, avoiding manual insertion). Link related tables in the same form for master/detail editing (the most known example is the employees/departments relationship)
Automate form creation and editing
Edit instantly the already created forms, by introspecting the generated code and allowing field add, update or remove. Multiple widget type in the generated forms – dynamic menu, checkbox, radiobuttons, textareas, HTML editor.
Based on tNG (InterAKT Transaction Engine)
NeXTensio is fully integrated with InterAKT's tNG. This feature allows you to easily create and manage the application logic for complex web applications.

You can find more on tNG here.

Tight integration with Macromedia Dreamweaver MX
NeXTensio is developed by the makers of PHAkt, the successful PHP Server Model for Macromedia Ultradev and Dreamweaver MX
It incorporates lot of insight knowledge on the Dreamweaver MX internals.

Manage master detail relations
Edit related tables in a master/detail relationship (emp/dept).
Naturally define the relationships and then edit the related tables in a very intuitive manner.
Multiple platforms support for the generated code including Windows, Linux and other Unixes (PHP).
Support for multiple database types
When used together with ImpAKT2 tNG for PHAkt2, NeXTensio can connect transparently to MySQL, PostgreSQL, MsSQL, DB2 and Access.

Online support
Support questions are answered online on interAKT web forums and newsgroups, and all clients/potential clients can consult problems and solutions.

N.B.: NeXTensio2 works only together with ImpAKT2. NeXTensio2 beta works only with the PHP_ADODB server model (PHAkt2) - the final version will function with both PHP_ADODB and PHP_MySQL

System requirements :
Dreamweaver MX 6.1
A site configured with the PHP_ADODB server model
PHP application server.
MySQL, PostgreSQL, MsSQL or Access database

Cost for NeXTensio2 is USD $ 320

Download NeXTensio2 by registering at:

Read more about NeXTension2
"Building a dynamic website using Dreamweaver MX, PHAkt 2 and NeXTensio 1.5 MX" (does not apply to NeXTensio 2)

Next on my CMS plate are UltraXML and comparison of these systems with the basic CMS system powering this site: Movable Type. I am sure many of you will want to know what are the key differences between going with a "blog"/CMS type of system, which can indeed provide a lot of leeway in developing more complex and sophisticated sites, and going for more complex systems like these.

Stay tuned.

Robin Good

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posted by Robin Good on Wednesday, June 11 2003, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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