DynaBase eases Web management
- By Patrick Marshall
- Jun 26, 2000
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
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
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.