LivePage eases complex Web content management

If your agency has a small World Wide Web site with fairly static pages, you can probably get by without any special programs for managing its content. But if you've got a large site with content that changes frequently, you'll want to consider moving to a Web content-management program.

LivePage Corp.'s LivePage Enterprise, just released in Version 2.0, goes far beyond simply converting documents to Hypertext Markup Language. Like Vi-gnette Corp.'s StoryServer—the market-leading content manager—LivePage stores data in a relational database and serves it to the Web site on demand.

There are, of course, performance and security benefits to storing data in an enterprise-level database rather than simply leaving the data in documents in Web server directories. But there are other important benefits: First, Web page content can be custom-tailored for individual users from the same data set. Second, those who are running multiple Web servers will be able to rely on well-tested and reliable replication tools. No longer will users find different data depending upon which Web server they happen to be routed to, as is often the case when Webmasters update content manually.

LivePage Enterprise has four main components: Manager, Administrator, Content Server and Personal Content Server. It did strike us that these tools could be better integrated, but we found each module easy to use.

The LivePage Manager offers a display very similar to Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer. A contents tree in the left-hand panel offers an easy-to-navigate view of the site. To the right is a set of tabs you can use to select whether to have the Manager display general information, children pages, graphics, links or a preview of the page. If you want to view a page as it actually appears in a browser, you can simply highlight it and then click on the Browse button in the toolbar. Manager also includes an HTML editor and tools for creating and checking hyperlinks.

What's more—and this is especially important for those with large Web sites—LivePage Manager includes powerful search tools. You can search for a character string, or you can link multiple search terms with Boolean operators. Either way, Manager will return a list of pages ranked according to relevancy. Also welcome is the program's new global search-and-replace utility, which makes it easy to update the content on even very large sites.

The LivePage Administrator module offers tools for managing LivePage documents and users. The site administrator can assign varying access rights to users, including browsing (read-only) rights, editing rights or administrator rights. As noted above, LivePage also allows administrators to personalize content for users. You might, for example, specify that users with the highest security level see additional pages when they call up a document. Those users who have editing rights will be able to change documents, and the changes will be immediately available to other users.

Finally, LivePage includes two server components: Content Server and Personal Content Server. The Content Server delivers pages to your Web server from LivePage documents created in Manager and stored in your SQL server. This server requires Windows NT to run. The Personal Content Server does basically the same job, although it works only for a single workstation. This server can run on either Windows 95 or Windows NT.

In addition, Version 2.0 offers optional validation of documents for HTML code and integration of the LivePage Manager with other authoring tools using Object Linking and Embedding automation. LivePage also has extended its format support such that all modules now support XML, HTML and SGML, and the Content Server now supports Active Server Pages. Finally, a new Web Style Wizard makes it easier to change the look and feel of LivePage documents.

LivePage currently is available only for Windows NT servers, although versions for Linux and Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris are under development. And the program can be used with a wide range of relational databases, including IBM Corp.'s DB2 2.1 or higher, Microsoft's SQL Server 6.0 or higher, Oracle Corp.'s SQL 7 or higher, Sybase Inc.'s SQL Server 10 and 11, and Sybase SQL Anywhere 5.0 or higher.

LivePage Enterprise is, in short, a highly scalable solution for enterprise-level Web sites that need the security and reliability offered by an architecture built on the foundation of a tested relational database. LivePage Enterprise offers the same basic capabilities as Vignette StoryServer, but LivePage's base price of $8,000 is well below that of StoryServer. Also, LivePage supports the conversion of documents from Standard Generalized Markup Language—a feature missing from Vignette that may be important to some agencies.


LivePage Corp.(519)

* Price and Availability: Available on the open market for $8,000 per server or $10,000 for unlimited-access licenses over the Internet. Intranet pricing is either $20 per user or $10,000 for unlimited users.

* Remarks: LivePage Enterprise 2.0 is a powerful yet surprisingly easy-to-use enterprise-level Web site content manager. The program works with a relational database to deliver custom content to users accessing the site with a browser.

* Final Score: Very Good


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