Eliminate Web publishing bottlenecks

Eliminate Web publishing bottlenecks

Enterprises face huge content management challenges - not just in administering volumes of documents - but also in getting this material online and keeping it up to date.

Documentum 4i eBusiness Edition 4.0 provides a first-rate solution for large-scale content management. Global 2000 and Internet companies will find this product moves content quickly from authors, through approvals, and onto live Web sites, allowing e-businesses to respond quickly to changes in the online marketplace and deliver timely, relevant information to customers and business partners.

Offstage, Documentum 4i eBusiness Edition comprises various server and publishing modules that handle workflow, provide easy document editing by end users, deploy content to large server farms, and integrate content with personalisation services such as Macromedia Like-Minds, Net Perceptions Recommendation Engine and E.piphany RightPoint.

Understandably, the acquisition cost and implementation time of such a sophisticated solution can't be dismissed. Then again, today's e-business environment demands that you find ways to publish critical content quickly and efficiently. Because Documentum 4i eBusiness Edition 4.0 does this so well and also has most other components needed to fuel online sales and business-to-business information exchanges (such as document conversion into multiple languages), it scores 4 stars.

Speeding time to Web

Documentum's engineers set up the 4i eBusiness Edition system in the lab as they would for any client - a process that required a few days for software loading and quality testing. Once the dual-Pentium III server running Windows NT 4 Server and an Oracle 8 database was turned over to us, I tested administration and Web publishing remotely to evaluate how the system would perform in a typical enterprise setting.

Because many organisations will transfer current Web sites into the Documentum environment, I started by importing a site initially built with Macromedia Dreamweaver 3. The ftp integrator, a very useful utility that works with any Web authoring tool, transferred existing files to the 4i eBusiness Edition repository without any difficulty.

Setting up workflows, which are fundamental to getting content online efficiently, was my next testing milestone. Documentum 4i eBusiness Edition ships with two default processes that can be easily customised with the graphical Workflow Manager. You simply drag and drop objects to, say, add or delete steps such as intermediate management reviews. Similarly, you can spawn other processes when a file passes final approval, such as generating an Adobe Acrobat version of the original document.

With site setup and workflows done, I kicked off several update scenarios to verify that the system reduced the time and effort required to publish new content or updates. As manager of a Web site for business partners, I wanted to have a new OEM listed. So I used Documentum's Web interface to locate and mark the existing file, note the necessary change, and submit the request to the original author. I especially liked Documentum's powerful search function, which quickly located the file requiring updating.

The author then received a link to the specific file and quickly launched the WebPublisher Editor tool to add the requested new text and links. After he submitted the change, the workflow module routed the revision through the approval process and then from the staging server to the live Web server. In all, the entire process required just a few minutes. Of course, administrators may insert additional checkpoints if desired. For example, to prevent premature news releases or leaks of price changes, you can specify the dates and times for certain files to go live.

Similarly, creating new pages requires very little experience. Using predefined XML templates presented within a Web form, I selected the appropriate page header and footer and formatted the body of the page using a word processor-like interface.

The WebPublisher Editor is designed specifically for non-technical workers, such as marketing or administrative staff. Thanks to the predefined templates for adding or modifying content, design standards are maintained across the entire Web site. And yet, administrators can grant users some flexibility. For example, each template may include lists of approved headers, images, and other page elements from which to choose. Addition-ally, the editor provides a WYSIWYG view of the content, eliminating the extra step between converting documents into HTML and then checking their layout for accuracy.

If the aforementioned was all this product accomplished, I'd rate it 3 stars.

But testing revealed that 4i eBusiness Edition has many characteristics that competing products lack, which boosted its score. For example, the Content Personalization Service (CPS) examines new or updated files and, based on their content, automatically inserts meta tags. The inclusion of accurate meta tags vastly improves site searching capability, and it's especially useful if you're running 4i eBusiness Edition along with a third-party personalisation engine because these engines are not effective without accurate tags. CPS can even automatically categorise files and put them into the right folders within your site.

I was equally pleased with Documentum's site maintenance functions. For instance, the administrator's Web interface let me maintain different versions of the files, modify the site's folder structure, and even create several editions of the entire site without much effort.

Because 4i eBusiness Edition dovetails nicely with existing business processes, puts content management back into the hands of owners and scales up for large enterprises, it would make a very good choice for content management at companies where dynamic updates are business-critical.

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