Content management, Java-style

For many agencies and departments, managing Web site content is a chore that continually threatens to spiral out of control. Given the staggering numbers of pages, images and associated programs to look after, today's frantic pace of business often makes mistakes nearly unavoidable.

Looking to solve just such a problem is FatWire Corp. and its latest product, UpdateEngine6.

UpdateEngine6 is an architectural dream come true. It maximizes simplicity, ensuring usability regardless of technical prowess and capitalizing on systems and tools already essential to business, such as Java application servers and relational database management systems. It also employs open standards such as Java and Extensible Markup Language.

What's more, thanks to a pure Java implementation, the solution should be a snap to fit into your environment, with documented support for almost any platform, all major application servers and most of the major databases. Furthermore, because UpdateEngine makes use of Java Server Pages as the principal logic and design template, those wishing to take advantage of the solution's power in custom applications will find it easy to do so.

In addition to offering exemplary content management, UpdateEngine6 also provides a collaborative environment for integrating the content, code and presentation elements that constitute a Web application.

Most applications of this type take some time to learn, so I was pleased to find that, after successful installation, the software provides an informative guided tour of the product. In a little less than an hour, I was able to configure the solution for my needs, complete with a fairly sophisticated workflow.

The solution is browser-based, and users will find a portal-type home page complete with favorites, to-do lists and all the necessary tools for assigning, tracking and completing management tasks. Because I had logged on as an administrator, I quickly defined access control, folder locations and templates.

From an interface standpoint, I found the solution extremely intuitive and easy to use. I was able to set permissions and check content in and out. When a user checks out a page or item, other users cannot edit it until it is checked back in. Also, the administrator has the ability to determine who has what content checked out.

The Workflow Builder employs an user friendly, click-and-build interface that makes it simple to create, modify and administer workflow processes.

Those whose jobs focus on application development will also appreciate the add-on UE Studio, which provides an Interface Builder for drag-and-drop construction of custom interfaces, the Event Builder for automating processes and a Report Builder for granular reporting or data extraction. Developers can also use UE Studio's Operations Builder to customize UpdateEngine's functionality.

Although UpdateEngine6 offers a pleasing user interface and excellent functionality, I was a bit disappointed with the numerous errors encountered during testing. Most notable was the product's inability to create a new folder or favorite from the administrator's home page without first renaming an existing one.

For those who like to try a product before buying it, FatWire offers a 30-day free trial. Although technical support is not available for the trial, users should find the product easy enough to use without it.

In all, I found UpdateEngine6 and UE Studio a real treat to work with. Were it not for the numerous errors encountered, the program would have scored significantly higher.

Fielden is a freelance writer and can be reached at tfielden@mediaone.net.

FatWire support

Databases

* Oracle Corp. products

* IBM Corp.'s DB2

* Microsoft Corp.'s SQL Server

* Sybase Inc. products

Operating systems

* Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris

* Microsoft Windows NT/2000

* IBM's AIX

* Hewlett-Packard Co.'s HP-UX

Web servers

* Apache

* Microsoft IIS

* Sun's iPlanet

* BEA Systems Inc.'s WebLogic

* IBM Web application servers

REPORT CARD

UpdateEngine6

Score: B

FatWire Corp.
(516) 328-9473
www.fatwire.com

UpdateEngine6 starts at $70,000. UE Studio is $35,000. With its ease of use and integration potential, FatWire Corp.'s UpdateEngine6 and companion product UE Studio look promising for setting the standard on which content management solutions are judged.

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