DynaBase eases Web management

If your agency or department World Wide Web site is small and its content

is relatively static, you can get by without a content manager. But if you're

trying to update multiple, large Web sites with content produced by multiple

authors, you're going to need software to help you keep on top of things.

DynaBase, from eBusiness Technologies, has long been one of the premier

Web content managers. It was distinguished from the competition primarily

by its early support for Extensible Markup Language (XML). DynaBase 4.0

focuses primarily on broadening the product's platform support and enhancing

its ease of use.

The previous version of DynaBase was limited to use of the Object Design

database. Now, however, companies that use Oracle or Java Data Base Connectivity-compatible

databases can use DynaBase. That — combined with the fact that DynaBase

is a Java application capable of running on various platforms — turns the

product into a robust, enterprise-level solution.

Managing Multiple Sites

As for DynaBase's ease of use, two new applications in the product have

improved things dramatically. First, the new Web Manager Pro offers an easy-to-use,

centralized tool for managing multiple, large and complex Web sites, whether

you're working on PC, Macintosh or Unix workstations.

Web Manager Pro offers a Microsoft Corp. Explorer-like interface for

moving through Web sites. In the left-hand pane, there is the traditional

navigation view, with all Web sites on the highlighted server displayed.

In the right pane, DynaBase displays the contents of the highlighted Web

site. A tabbed pane across the bottom lets you view various types of information

about the site, including log entries, links, versions, checkouts, search

results and imports.

When you import items — Hypertext Markup Language coding, images and

so on — into a site, they are stored in database files. DynaBase indexes

all items for searching and maintains version control. If a user checks

out an item for editing, other users will not be able to make changes in

that item until it is checked back in. But there's nothing to prevent other

users from checking out other items on the Web site, except perhaps Dyna-Base's

set of security controls. The program allows administrators to assign any

of six different access levels to users. A "publish" role, for example,

allows a user to set Web views and create editions but not to check items

in and out.

DynaBase makes it easy for authorized editors to publish Web sites.

What's more, the program not only tracks the versions of items within the

site, but it also enables editors to "freeze" Web sites as "editions," making

them available to users even as editors continue to edit the underlying

content.

Web Manager Pro's search tools are very strong. The program allows you

to search both HTML and XML text items, and you can search for DynaBase

properties, such as Created By, Creation Date or Document Status. You can

restrict your search to a specific Web edition, and you can use wild cards.

Those kinds of search capabilities are critical to editors who need to manage

large, complex sites.

DynaBase has also made it easier to employ templates to standardize

the look and feel of Web pages. Thanks to the new WebBuilder provided with

DynaBase 4.0, you can employ sample templates to design your site. True,

the templates aren't easy to employ because you have to manually install

WebBuilder at the command prompt for each Web site.

Things to Do

There are, however, a few areas we'd like to see improved in DynaBase.

First, DynaBase's documentation, which we received only in online form,

is sparse and not very effective in getting new users up and running quickly.

Second, DynaBase still does not offer workflow tools for dispersing

and tracking site-editing chores among a workgroup.

Finally, although Dyna-Base is easy to set up to work with Netscape

Communication Corp.'s Enterprise Server, we found it challenging to get

the product working smoothly under Microsoft's Internet Information Server.

To ensure full administrative access to DynaBase, we had to reinstall NT

4.0 and IIS from scratch, then closely follow the long and involved instructions

for configuring NT to work with DynaBase. DynaBase 4.0 is also supposed

to work with Windows 2000 Server, though we never achieved a fully functional

installation.

Once we got things up and running, however, DynaBase revealed itself

as a powerful solution for administrators of large Web sites to use in building

and maintaining frequently changing sites.

REPORT CARD

DynaBase 4.0

eBusiness Technologies

(401) 752-4400

www.ebt.com

Price and availability: Pricing for DynaBase starts at $70,000, for up to five contributors and a Web site of up to 100 megabytes. In addition, there is an 18 percent per year charge for annual maintenance, including technical support and updates.

Remarks: DynaBase can be difficult to install and configure, but once you get things set up, it offers strong tools for managing multiple, complex Web sites. And DynaBase's support of XML makes it possible to customize delivery of Web content.

BY Patrick Marshall
June 26, 2000

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