Back-end plan boosts State Web site

Back-end plan boosts State Web site

Soon after the change of administrations in January, the State Department changed its Web site. Now it is improving the way information gets onto the site.

“It’s an internal improvement,” said Colleen Hope, director of electronic information in the Bureau of Public Affairs. “It’s managing thousands and thousands of documents much more effectively.”

The back-end technology includes a workflow suite, a document management system and a domain-name organizer for more than 25 bureaus and offices. The changes will be compatible with existing servers for the 45,000-page site.

Work on the first phase, the content management system, began last December, and state officials expect it to be finished by the end of the year.

Phase 2, which began in July, will be finished next fall. It distinguishes the various bureaus and offices and their related documents with different domain names, such as oig.state.gov for the Office of the Inspector General.

Both projects together cost the agency about $1 million—$330,000 in the first phase and more than a half-million dollars so far in Phase 2.

AppliedTheory Inc. of New York created the content management system with ColdFusion from Macromedia Inc. of San Francisco.

AppliedTheory is prime contractor for the second phase.

The front-end redesign was by United Information Systems Inc. of Bethesda, Md. WorldCom Inc.’s UUNet subsidiary began hosting the State site last September.

State formerly used the HomeSite authoring program from Allaire Corp. of Cambridge, Mass., which required coding all documents in Hypertext Markup Language. “The old site was very inflexible,” Hope said.

Now workers move documents in a Microsoft Word template into an Oracle Corp. database directly connected to the content management system.

“They no longer have to know HTML,” Hope said. “The typefaces are all predetermined in the content management system,” making documents consistent.

“It was getting unwieldy doing all of this by hand,” she said.

Domains will have a “separate look and feel within the same content management system,” Hope said, and each bureau’s domain will get its own distinctive visual symbol.

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