Review: Software separates content editing from design process
If your agency or department conducts business via the Internet or an intranet, chances are you've experienced the embarrassment of critical pages getting changed or reformatted by mistake.
Such snafus can generally be traced back to the fact that different people are usually responsible for designing Web pages and controlling content. A staffer adding content can inadvertently make changes that will have unforeseen consequences, especially if there is no system for approval of workflows.
However, thanks to the advent of content management solutions such as Revize 3.5 from Idetix Software Systems Inc., offices can now easily and safely allow any authorized user to change content without affecting the overall look of a site by separating the content editing process from the design process. Better still, the whole operation can be controlled by an easy-to-manage workflow, in which no changes are posted until specified staff members give the okay.
Those who are already using Revize will find that this new version includes advanced authorization and workflow tools, as well as the ability to centrally manage multiple Web sites.
Although many content management systems take a lot of effort to get up and working, Revize was a snap to set up. In fact, in only a couple of hours, I was able to install the application, create users and produce a simple workflow. The product comes with everything you'll need to get started, including an embedded database and Web server.
To start the application, enable the service, which in turn launches the Web server, and fire up a browser to access the program's administration center.
I found Revize to be quite adept at automating the notification, viewing, approval and publication of changes so that nothing was actually put on the Web site until all specified steps had been completed. Furthermore, thanks to the graphical drag-and-drop method for creation, complex rules can be built with little effort or thought.
Although implementing workflow under any situation often requires changes in process, I was pleased to find that only a few roles had to be configured prior to usage — a page developer for creating the look and feel of the site, a workflow developer for creating the necessary steps through which changes must flow and an editor or editors who will update the content.
Although Revize is fully capable and intended to be used directly out of the box, it is also highly customizable to suit unique business needs. Using a developer- driven architecture, as well as industry-proven technologies such as Java and Extensible Markup Language, this latest release gives developers access to the product at three layers.
At the top level, or layer 1, are the HTML-like Smart Tags, which provide simple access to content and utilities via the developer's library. For those requiring more control, layer 2 provides access to the source code of the Smart Tags, as well as the core libraries used in the application, enabling developers to extend the functionality. Finally, at the bottom level, or layer 3, access is provided to the core Revize application program interface.
But for all its benefits, the solution has a worrying lack of choices regarding the Web server and database components. I couldn't find a way to use any Web server other than the one shipped with the product — Resin from Caucho Technology Inc.
The database issue is similar. Although the product ships with a PointBase Inc. server as the default server, Idetix states that any ODBC- or JDBC-compliant database can be used. The caveat to this is that only an Oracle Corp. database is listed as a currently tested product.
Because integration is always important, Revize is fully functional on most platforms, including Microsoft Corp. Windows, Sun Microsystems Inc. Solaris and Linux. And should you have more than a single site, rest easy — Revize now supports up to 500 unique sites within a single environment.
Overall, the Revize 3.5 solution is a nice application on which to base a Web presence. Had it not been for the limited choices offered on Web servers and database platforms, the solution would have scored much higher.
Fielden is a freelance writer. He can be reached at email@example.com.
NEXT STORY: Scared of stocks? Bonds have risks, too