For overloaded intranet and extranet webmasters, nirvana might consist of a Web infrastructure that requires hardly any maintenance - in which end users contribute content by uploading documents in their native desktop format.
With Allegis' latest release, Net-It Central 3.0, you don't have to fantasise about such self-managed publishing. As before, this solution automatically builds complete sites and organises them according to the hierarchy you establish. New contributor enhancements open doors for remote input that require only a Web browser. Continued use of Allegis' Java-based jDoc conversion technology ensures that documents viewed in a standard browser appear exactly as they do in the originating application.
In its fifth major release, Net-It Central 3.0 now extends your corporate publishing team by allowing anyone with a Web browser to contribute site content. Before it was limited to those with direct access to a file or Web server. Extensible Markup Language meta data can be extracted from, or added to documents for fast searching.
Even with these extras, Net-It Central didn't gain any complexity. I used the server's Site Properties dialogue to select the template for my site and establish a publishing schedule.
Version 3.0's new Contributor module is an ActiveX control that lets remote users submit documents via the Web for publishing. As the administrator, I used the Contributor property setting on the server side to decide how content was to be transmitted and whether contributors could manage source folders or change file settings.
To add content, users simply click the Contribute button that now appears on Web sites created by Net-It Central. After a security check, a dialogue box appears that lists folders where new files can be placed. Because I enabled all Contributor options, the same clear dialogue lets users create and delete folders and delete files.
There's one more innocuous, but very important button for the submission process: Doc Info. This tool automatically extracts summary information from documents, such as Microsoft Word 97 files, during the upload process. I customised which fields were to be used, including keywords, author, comments, and description. Users could also add useful data such as additional keywords or other fields.
Why is this so important? Quite simply, document information is now stored separately as XML meta data. Once a document was published, the XML-based data made searching for specific documents very fast - and increased the probability that returned documents would be appropriate.
Net-It Central 3.0 continues to be valuable for creating low-maintenance Web sites in which anyone can author and contribute documents easily. The jDoc files still offer high fidelity representations of originals and are much smaller than those created by alternative technologies. All site updates can now be done through a familiar browser interface, which should keep training and administrations costs very low.
The Bottom Line
Net-It Central 3.0
This publishing solution converts your intranet into a document-sharing platform. Anyone with a browser can now add site content and improve searches.
Pros: Remote users can add and manage content; efficient site searches that use XML; maintains Netscape Netcaster and Microsoft push channels; more efficient navigation; no ongoing administrative support.
Cons: None significant.
Platforms: Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT 4.0; any Web server for deployment.
Price: Standard Edition $11, 995. Professional Edition $16, 995 (both prices are RRP).
Tel (08) 8272 8699