Posts tagged "web cms"

Jentla Offers New Forms & Application Builder

Jentla, a provider of Web CMS solutions built on the open source web content management system, Joomla, has come up with a new tool for supporting business processes. It's called Jentla Action and here's our look at it.

Jentla Technologies

Jentla is probably best known for Jentla N multi-site extensions for Joomla. These are extensions that enable large amounts of Joomla sites to be administrated through a master system and central database. But that's not all Jentla offers. In addition, it has Jentla E a GPL ecommerce suite and there's Jentla V, for video management.

The latest solution to add to the list is Jentla Action, a tool that helps you quickly build forms and applications.

Jentla Action: Form Builder

According to Jentla, you build one form that serves both the end user, the editor and the administrator. And you build it in a code-less environment. Jentla Action separates the definition of the form fields, from the design so that you can bring in different groups with the right capabilities.

Jentla Action Process

Jentla Action Supports Multi-site Deployments

There are a number of nice features in Jentla Action. One is the ability to create a single form that will display certain fields for say a public website, and then include additional fields for display on the intranet.

You can also import and export fields via CSV and create just about any type of field you can think of. In addition, all fields are searchable and any security set on those fields is adhered to.

Forms are also included in the same publishing workflow as other content, so you aren't required to build and manage a separate publishing process for your forms and applications.

Jentla Action can be used by both power business users and developers. You  can check out how Jentla compares Jentla Action against Microsoft Infopath and Drupal CCK.

Content Strategy for Improving Value of Your CMS

Defining a Content Strategy

If you consider content as a form of communication — and that's exactly what it is — then a content strategy makes clear which content has to be communicated at a certain moment with a specific persona.

Bob Boiko — author of 'The Content Management Bible' and 'Laughing at the CIO' — taught me the 'golden formula' of a content strategy:

‘By exchanging [ content ] with [ target group ] we reach [ goal or business driver ], because [ personal motivation ].’

All the 'blanks' in this formula must be as specific as possible. So:

  • 'Content' shouldn't be ‘information about the product’, but ‘monthly savings in energy costs’.
  • The target group is not ‘the customer’, but for example ‘a young single mother with an average income’.
  • A business driver could be ‘an increase of contract renewals by 12 percent‘. This leads to the goal of 'making profit'.

The 'personal motivation' cannot be missed in a content strategy. What is (in) the interest of your persona? In other words: concentrate on the 'What's in it for me?'. Put yourself in your persona's shoes and discover what her personal motivation is.

From Tactics to Communication Means

Another important part of your content strategy are the tactics. How are you going to make sure this young mother reads about these monthly energy savings? What is the best moment to share this information? Who will she trust and would giving her the opportunity to share her experiences with others make her more receptive to the message?

Once you have defined strong tactics, you can concentrate on the communication means. Ask yourself if a website is the single possible option. Perhaps your persona is more likely to talk about cost savings in some social network. But is she on Facebook or another network? Does she chat within this social network using her computer or her mobile phone? Most of the time your content strategy uses a mix of communications means. Find your balance.

Make it Measurable

Talking about balance: it is essential to measure the success of your content strategy. Make your business drivers measurable using key performance indicators (KPI's). Decide in advance which instruments you will use to measure the effect. Perform baseline research, measure again after executing the strategy. Analyze the results and decide if the content strategy actually helped you reach your goals. Use your analysis to improve your strategy or the quality of your communications mix.

Be warned. Don't start with too many strategies at the same time. A full content strategy can take a lot of time and resources, especially since you have to monitor and measure each content strategy very carefully. You don't want to stop performing and measuring a strategy halfway because it was too much to handle. The average organization can deal with a maximum of seven strategies in one year, so make your choice!

Tools, No Fools

Talking about making choices: without a content strategy, selecting a content management tool (for WCM, search, ECM, social media, analytics or any other content discipline) makes no sense at all. Every single content strategy leads to specific 'requirements' the tool has to cover. Once these are clear, you can start selecting a tool. And no time sooner than that!

By the way, a Web CMS, analytics tool or social media tool can help you measure the effect of your content strategy. Take this into account when selecting and implementing your tools.

The Importance of a Content Strategy

In my opinion everything in your content organization — the content management, the content governance, the content tooling, you name it — should be based on a content strategy. Why? Well, because your content strategy is a translation of your business goals and business processes. They are literally the 'raison d'être' of your organization.

It's not a coincidence that I put the business process in the center of the content management lifecycle. Everything in this lifecycle — from planning to evaluating content — has a direct link with the business process. If what you do in your content management lifecycle has no alignment with a business process, stop doing it!

I think most of us have felt the recent financial crisis. We must all realize the times are behind us when we received budgets for our web projects without much trouble. I would say this is a blessing in disguise, really. Because now we have to prove our added value. With a successful content strategy. Management of any organization is always willing to invest in successful business opportunities. Prove that your content strategy will make your organization reach its goals and get yourself a listening ear from your management.

The Fun Part

What I learned over the years is that defining content strategies as a team is a lot of fun. In the beginning the effort seems hard. Sometimes people resist against 'yet another mission vision session'. But by using the 'golden content strategy formula' that Bob Boiko taught me, I saw a change in people's attitude. They felt empowered by it, and they soon realized that they were in charge of the content management business after all. Seeing a change like that has given me a lot of joy in what I do.

There's more to say about the Planning phase in the content management lifecycle: information architecture, interaction design are only two of them. I will go deeper into these issues in my next article. That is, if you like what I wrote so far. Please send me your comments and your own opinions about content strategy. I'd like to share and learn.

CM Lifecycle Poster

You can download the CM Lifecycle Poster at www.hartmangids.nl/downloads
http://www.hartmangids.nl/wp-content/uploads/CM-Lifecycle_A4-EN.pdf (A4 format poster)
http://www.hartmangids.nl/wp-content/uploads/CM-Lifecycle_A3-EN.pdf (A3 format poster)

Your Homework Starts Now

DO try this at home today!

Follow these steps to a successful content strategy:

  1. Organize a session with your project team and stakeholders.
  2. Define some content strategies in 3 or 4 groups.
  3. Let each group present its content strategy.
  4. Finalize the best content strategies.
  5. Communicate plan and realize these content strategies.
  6. Measure the results and communicate them within the organization
  7. Tweak your existing content strategies or define new strategies.

About the Author

Erik M. Hartman (www.erikhartmancommunicatie.nl/english) consults, presents and publishes about content management strategy and tools. With The Information Management Foundation (www.timaf.org) he created an initiative with other information management practitioners to provide a strong and clear foundation of information management.

Really Strategies Introduces Cloud Book Publishing and Workflow

Publishing as a Cloud Service

RSuite Cloud is a hosted content management and publishing solution for publishers to create, manag, and distribute single-source content to multiple channels. The software-as-a-service product augments the company’s existing on-premise RSuite publishing platform. Really Strategies representatives said,

We are excited about our ability to scale with this solution and the new scheduling flexibility that we could never have dreamed of in our old environment."

The cloud-based platform allows customers to ramp up content management and publishing capabilities without significant resource or financial investment.

RSuite Cloud integrates with Microsoft Word. Users can import documents into the system and convert the files to XML for web-based copyediting and automated page composition. The solution also supports production workflows to generate page proofs and eBook drafts for content review and approval. Rsuite is pre-configured to publish print-ready PDF files, HTML output and eBook formats.

Customers with a global audience will appreciate the platform’s language translation tools. The system can publish in 70 languages, including all major European, Asian, and bidirectional languages, and supports content localization. Other features of the platform include:

  • Browser-based editorial corrections
  • Secure access and version control
  • Search
  • Production to multiple formats such as print, eBook readers, web and iPad

Existing users of the Rsuite platform should be aware that the product focus of the cloud platform is books, not all publishing products (such as journals, newsletters and magazines, for example) like previous offerings. 

Getting the Cloud Publishing Solution

RSuite Cloud is available now. Really Strategies configures the system for customers and charges no initial setup fees. RSuite Cloud is available on a per-user license or pay-per-page model. The pay-per-page model allows customers to obtain the software free and pay for final pages published from the system. Users can publish unlimited PDF proofs with no proofing charges. The cost of publishing finalized pages starts at US$ 1 per page. Users can also create eBooks on the platform for US$ 100. 

As in many other industries, we will see traditional publishing models affected by the emergence of flexible cloud-based solutions. Savvy publishers will incorporate the cloud into their publishing process to reduce costs and streamline their workflow processes for editors and authors.

HTML5 Gets Glitzy New Logo, Bids Adieu to Flash

The W3C has unveiled a new logo for HTML5, a "striking visual identity for the open web platform." But really, what's more important here, a glitzy new logo or the potential end of Flash?

 

What's the Purpose of the New HTML5 Logo?

Like any other logo, the HTML5 logo has the purpose to spread the word (or the image, if we are more precise) and to build brand awareness.

Contrary to what you might expect however, this logo isn't an official W3C logo yet — it is just a pilot project to popularize HTML5, although it is expected that within the first quarter of 2011, W3C will adopt an official logo, which could possibly be exactly the piece you are looking at now.

The logo hasn't been designed as a symbol of proof that a site is HTML5 compliant. In fact, if the logo is used on any page, it doesn't mean that the site complies with the requirements of W3C but that, simply, the site designer sympathizes with HTML5.

How Can I Use the New HTML5 Logo?

Designers will appreciate the new logo and will, no doubt, find millions of creative ways to incorporate it in their designs. If you don't think orange is your color, you can modify or download an alternative black and white version. The logo is designed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license — providing people with lot of freedom to modify it. Just remember to credit the original authors.

What's New in HTML5 Besides the Logo?

The new HTML5 logo is exciting but it certainly isn't the only news surrounding HTML5. For instance, the canvas element moved a step further with the recently updated draft of the HTML Canvas 2D Context specification. Considered a Flash-killer, only the future will show if Flash will be kicked to the curb or not. 

The canvas element looks very promising because it allows not only to draw basic shapes but also to apply more advanced techniques. It has attributes for colors and styles, shadows, complex shapes, focuses, etc. You can also use it to manipulate text and separate pixels. It is not as powerful as Flash but it has enough power to replace Flash in many of its uses.

However, the way browsers render images and use hardware acceleration could seriously affect the practical application of the canvas element. The element might have enough horse power but when browsers misinterpret it, it can lead to slow operations. Maybe it is too early to say that we are heading in the direction of the Flash-less Web.

2010 Open Source CMS Market: Drupal Trails Joomla!, DotNetNuke Challenges

Water&stone has released their annual Open Source CMS Market Share Report. Who is dominating the open source web content management space? And who managed to move ahead of other contenders? Find out here.

The Report

2010 is the third year that water&stone has published the Open Source CMS Market Share Report. The report is non-commercial and released under an open license, unlike similar work from other industry firms. This year’s report began with thirty open source systems but ten were eliminated due to current market position. Water&stone assess the remaining twenty systems on metrics related to rate of adoption and brand strength. Using this data, the report defines market leaders.

The report uses multiple data sources to draw conclusions. In addition to a survey, which water&stone conducted with over 5000 responses, other metrics included:

  • Product downloads
  • W3Techs’ analysis of technologies used on the top one million websites in Alexa’s rankings
  • BuiltWith’s technology rankings
  • The number of developers offering services in the technology on Elance and Guru
  • The number of books in print for the platform
  • Google page rank

Using a multi-faceted approach minimizes the likelihood that the outcome is biased toward a single factor and hopefully quiets the inevitable cries of, “But what about…” that will come from supporters of platforms that did not rank as expected. The firm was also very careful to note cases where their methodology might have resulted in a skewed outcome.

The Good

WordPressJoomla! and Drupal, three of the most well-known open source CMS platforms, remain decisively in control of the market. In metrics such as number of installations and shares of Facebook
posts, these three clearly dominated the field.

 

water&stone 2010 CMS survey - installations

 

share of Facebook posts

In fact, in almost every measure, there is little indication that the leadership of the top three platforms is being challenged in the near future; but this is the internet — we could all be surprised.

As for the leader of the pack, WordPress managed to take the lead in a number of key metrics. They included:

  • Search interest
  • Daily website traffic
  • Daily unique visitors
  • Daily page views
  • Downloads

In terms of technology specific results, Liferay leads the Java WCM market, followed closely by Alfresco. DotNetNuke is the leading platform for the .NET market, although newcomer Umbraco is quickly narrowing the lead. The report also lists Concrete5 and Umbraco as solutions that are gathering strength in the market.

The Bad

The report identifies the following platforms as struggling to maintain market share:

Using metrics like Google's search query interest, water&stone concluded that these projects are showing negative market trends.

  

Google search interest

The Ugly

Jahia and phpWebSite, which were included in the 2009 version of the report, were removed from the top twenty list for 2010. Textpattern and Xoops may also want to take note — the 2010 report notes the two as at risk systems.

In its second year making the at risk list, Textpattern's downward slope has continued into 2010. The report found low adoption rates, little growth in third party support, poor search engine visibility and low brand familiarity for Textpattern.

The results for Xoops did not look much better. Xoops finished last in many important metrics like downloads and installations while leading negative indicators like abandonment rate.

The Open Source CMS Market Share Report is likely a valuable source of information for any organization evaluating CMS tools. However, readers should be careful to consider their unique needs to determine if the conclusions are applicable. For example, small firms overwhelmingly dominated survey responses; larger firms may have radically different challenges.

Have you read the full report? How did your favorite CMS system fare?

Editor's Note: See how your favorite open source CMS fared this year compared to last year.

Apache Software Foundation Divorces JCP over Irreconcilable JSR Differences

The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) today announced its resignation from the JCP (Java Community Process) Executive Committee (EC). This comes in only a day after Java SE 7/SE 8 specs (JSR-336 and JSR-337 respectively) were officially approved by the JCP despite the ASF, Eclipse Foundation and Google voting against.

Evil Plans and Stirring the Pot

The conflict goes back to 2006 and, most recently, has been around Oracle's (who acquired Sun Microsystems - the inventors of Java) refusal to grant a Java TCK (technology compatibility kit) license to the open source version of Java called the Apache Harmony project. Apache has objected to the restrictions over Harmony and threatened to leave the JCP. Since then, the differences has not been ironed out.

JCP is responsible for selecting which technologies to approve as official Java specifications. Just like it happened in the past with the near and dear to our CMS hearts JSR-170 and JSR-283. The JCP is supposed to foster an open specification process and protect the open licensing structure.

However, the are fears that Oracle is taking control over the JCP, which is supposed to be an unbiased and independent body. Oracle wouldn't agree to grant a Java compatibility license for the ASF's Harmony project.

This may indicate that Oracle is trying to keep a tight reign on any alternative implementations of Java other than their own version, while backing the OpenJDK open source version of Java.

No Harmony in the Java World

With these restrictions on distribution, the Apache Software Foundation decided to leave the JCP in a post published today, saying:

By approving Java SE 7, the EC has failed on both counts: the members of the EC refused to stand up for the rights of implementers, and by accepting Oracle's TCK license terms for Java SE 7, they let the integrity of the JCP's licensing structure be broken.

The Apache Software Foundation concluded that JCP is not an open specification process and that "the commercial concerns of a single entity, Oracle, will continue to seriously interfere with and bias the transparent governance of the ecosystem."

Since it is not possible to protect the rights of implementers and to distribute independent implementations of JSRs under open source licenses without the fear of litigation from Oracle, Apache decided to express its disdain for JCP with an immediate resignation and removal of all official ASF representatives from "any and all JSRs."

One can only wonder (or be slightly depressed?) about what kind of implications this development may bring on the content management industry. Many Web CMS and Enterprise CMS products are Java-based. Many of them are open source.

While many large enterprise are comfortable with Oracle and Java as their language of choice, many of them also use open source technologies like Apache Tomcat and the likes. Above all, Apache has a reputation of bringing innovation to the table with its projects. Innovation is not the prime factor that drives the money-making machine that is Oracle.

As we discussed before, Oracle may have a considerable impact on the industry, from many different angles. Not many of them were without controversy. Care to share your thoughts?

Sitecore Web CMS Takes Another Step to Multilingual Content Management

One of the .NET CMS darlings Sitecore (news, site) extended its relationship with partner, Clay Tablet Technologies, on the globalization front. The main purpose is to automate content translation processes and workflows.

Multilingual Content Management with the New Plugin

It may come as a shocker, but not all of the web population can read English. Managing content effectively in a CMS is one side of the story. Being able to manage multilingual and localized content effectively is another challenge.

Clay Tablet has a translation connectivity software that allows for Sitecore Web CMS to talk to various translation providers and systems, allowing for content stored in the CMS to be globalized via translation and localization workflows.

Regardless of who is your translation provider of choice, using the CMS UI in the Content Editor or Page Editor, editors can automate translation processes of either individual content items or batch translations. In addition to that, there's a queue monitoring function to keep track of an item's status.

Once content is translated, Clay Tablet’s plugin allows to return it back into the CMS for further review and publishing.

Sitecore Connector V3.0

This development is, of course, comes out of the latest release of the Clay Tablet Sitecore Translation Connector v3.0.

Some of its features include:

  • Bulk export
  • Field filtering
  • Automated version creation
  • Email notifications

The connector requires a separate install using “Packager,” followed up by configurations to connect the CMS to a translation memory, or a translation tech or provider.

Sitecore Adds E-Commerce Capabilities on Top of Web CMS

Sitecore (news, site), one of the players in the .NET Web CMS market, has added an e-commerce platform to its product portfolio.

From Web CMS to E-Commerce

The latest addition to the product list of Sitecore – Sitecore E-Commerce is not a surprising product. Actually, the e-commerce platform is built on top of their CMS.

The core functionality comes from the CMS, but it is enhanced with e-commerce specific features.

What's Inside the Sitecore E-Commerce Platform?

The basic online shop functionality includes the following features:

  • Product information and order management

  • Payment processing and shipping management

  • Integration with ERP, customer databases and other back office applications

Sitecore E-Commerce Order Management

In addition to these features, you also need marketing-related functionality, as well as tracking and statistics. Sitecore E-Commerce offers both groups of features, and if you can find the time to study the reports of your online shop's activity, you can get really valuable data about user behavior and the efficiency of your SEO/marketing efforts.

 

 

Sitecore E-Commerce Reporting

Here are some of the features related to metrics and statistics:

  • Account creation

  • Order completion

  • Customized checkout

  • Email campaigns

  • Visitor count

  • Average time on site

  • Best-selling products

  • Conversions (with referring URLs)

All these features make it easy for you to track if your efforts to sell give results or not. In addition to them, there are personalization tools, which allow you to create specific content for special groups.

Up-selling and cross-selling are also possible with Sitecore E-Commerce. The customized checkout allows to keep a detailed history of your customers' purchases.

Sitecore E-Commerce offers mobile functionality as well with Android, iPhone and BlackBerry support that allows you to create mobile-friendly versions of your pages.

Dealing with CMS Obsolescence

As a consultant, I don’t often get to enjoy the fruits of a successful project. I get a good handshake and a nice project wrap-up party. After that, I usually move on to the next client, often to solve the same problems, with some new wrinkles, all over again. I do like to stay in contact with several clients and over the years, there is one challenge that they are rarely prepared to solve — obsolescence.

The Price of Success

Let’s take your generic enterprise content management system — this is CMSWire after all. Five years ago, you sat down, defined your content types, defined the content life-cycles and built out the core business processes.

Over the years, new types were added and new processes were implemented, but on the whole, it has been a reliable system.

On top of that, you have had some luck. The original software vendor has not been bought by a company looking to move customers to a different product or aiming to milk the software maintenance. Upgrades have been implemented on a fairly regular basis and they haven’t been nightmarish.

Now the system’s age is showing. Over time, meaningful new releases have become further apart. Meanwhile, there has been a gradual change in your requirements that didn’t track directly with the vendor’s enhancements. Some examples that I’ve seen the past few years include:

  • Progressing from managing content to capturing the content.
  • Supporting significantly more users in the organization over a wider area.
  • Sharing information with external partners.

These are all problems. All in all, it is a pretty pickle. There are two basic approaches you can take to attacking this problem.

Just Start Over

This always has lots of appeal at first blush. A fresh start with new technology can be very exciting. The techies love to play with the latest technology and management can point to the shiny new toy that they brought into this world to solve the problem.

Of course it is never that simple. Remove from consideration all of the content that may have to be migrated and just look at the embedded business rules.

There is a lot of business knowledge tied up in older systems. Outside consultants/experts may come look at an older system and start pointing to how things can be better if they only use their products instead.

Theoretically, their assertions may be correct. The issue is that you have to make things dramatically better for the users to accept the new solution. Do not underestimate the ever-present danger of a key feature not being available in the new system. What you may view as something that needs to be listed as a key requirement, the user may just assume that feature is a given and not even mention it. That lasts until the user realizes it isn’t in the new system.

Let’s consider the enhancement route.

Bonus Features

An alternative to a full replacement is acquiring new technology that can enhance and supplement the current system's capabilities. This can be as straightforward as adding a new search engine, to something more obscure as compression software for content.

A common challenge in larger organizations is budgetary politics. Management may see the problem and wonder why the existing system can’t do what they deem to be core features of an Enterprise CMS. Management tends to react in one of three ways:

  1. Decide to live with it. Why spend any more money? The system has been good enough for years. Why not a little longer?
  2. Replace it. Take on the previously discussed challenges and bring in a new vendor that does it all.
  3. Go with the Golf Solution.

Let me explain that last one. The Golf Solution happens when someone in management is socializing with someone and they share, at a very high level, the basic problem. The response they hear is: “Oh, my company can fix that.”

This leads to an actual meeting where it is agreed that the suggested solution is the answer to the problem. Shortly after that, the actual system team is brought into the discussion.

Now comes the tricky part. The components being proposed aren’t ideal. They may not even be on the shortlist of solutions. They do have one very critical characteristic though: management support and the budget that goes with it.

When faced with this situation, experience has taught me to just go with the flow. Make the focus learning about the proposed solution and educating the provider about the realities of the system they are trying to “fix”. What you will learn is that the solution provider doesn’t always want to implement at all costs. Use them to bring your system out of obsolescence and help your users get the most out of their system.

With the above said, eventually you will have to break down and take the replacement route. But remember, there is nothing wrong with making your existing investments sweat a little if they are still solving your business needs.

Oh, and like everything, your mileage may vary.

OpenWGA 5.2 Adds Support for CMIS, Social Media

OpenWGA (newssite) went open source a couple of months ago, but the updates haven't slowed down. With its latest release (5.2), you now have support for CMIS and social media.

OpenWGA is a 100% Java CMS by the German company Innovation Gate Gmbh. OpenWGA is a relatively new addition to the open source family of Enterprise CMS but it is a veteran in the content management market. They offer enterprise-level features and probably their dual-licensing scheme (i.e. open source and free is just a part of it, while the more valuable features are in the paid commercial license) is one of the reasons why they are not as popular as many other enterprise-level content management systems. OpenWGA doesn't lack features and appeal as this latest release demonstrates.

There are many new features in OpenWGA 5.2, the most notable being the included support for CMIS, new social plugins, video streaming and the new editor scheme in the Developer Studio.

CMIS as a Client and a Server

The support for CMIS is one of the major features in this release because CMIS is such a hot topic. CMIS support means that as a client, OpenWGA can access content in any CMIS repository (i.e. Alfresco) and display the content within an OpenWGA site/portal. As a CMIS server, OpenWGA will be able to provide access to the contents within the OpenWGA repository to any CMIS-enabled client.

The bad news is that CMIS-functionality is available only for the paid (i.e. Enterprise) version, so if you are running the free version, you won't be able to use CMIS.

New Social Plugins

The new social plugins are the latest improvement in OpenWGA and unlike the CMIS functionality, they are free Enterprise 2.0 plugins. The plugins are OpenWGA Wikis, OpenWGA Blogs, OpenWGA Forums and OpenWGA Photos. All of them can either be used as stand alone applications or can be integrated into other web projects.

Maybe these features appeared a bit late because many other Web and Enterprise CMS have them since the beginning of time but having in mind that OpenWGA isn't Drupal or WordPress and it doesn't have a huge community of developers, the delay is easy to understand.

Video Streaming

Video content is frequently to be found on an CMS and this is why it is good if the CMS is able to stream videos. The tricky part with streaming videos is that they require the so called “accept ranges” (an HTTP technology that chunks the video in portions, so that the browser can download a portion and play it rather than download the whole movie at once, which with huge movies and/or slow connections might take ages). Now OpenWGA 5.2. includes such support for video streaming.

A New Editor Scheme in the Developer Studio

Schemas have always been part of application design and they make the whole process much easier. Starting with OpenWGA 5.2, you will be able to use schemes. You can use predefined content type settings, content items, language definitions and website areas. All this functionality is included in the free OpenWGA Developer Studio.

These new feature additions make OpenWGA a good choice, especially if you are obsessed with programming languages and wouldn't trade Java for PHP, Perl or .NET.