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16What do they do well - and what do they still need to do

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  • melanie.kendell
    Sep 29, 2003
      Rohn Jay Miller wrote
      > It's when CMS companies start selling "author-once,
      > publish many times" systems that I storm indignantly
      > from the room. Quark, Net Objects, Broadvision and
      > others have tried to sell this snake oil at various
      > times.

      I agree that buying a system will not automatically make it possible
      to "author-once, publish many times" but if your content architecture
      is designed appropriately you would want a system that helps you
      manage it.

      For example, being able to manage content as chunks (topics are about
      the right level of granularity) as well as being able to amalgamate
      those chunks into "documents" (which might be a traditional
      paper-based document, online help system, website, or whatever).
      Conditional text within each chunk that gets included/excluded
      depending on the "document" being created is also required to be able
      to re-target a chunk for a different document (although this should
      not be over-used or it becomes its own management nightmare).

      There must also be some good features for finding content, and not
      just good search tools. The system should allow content to be
      categorised for findability rather than being tied to a document
      structure. Previewing the contents of chunks (including visual clues
      to mark conditional text) should also be very easy.

      > I've seen many clients spend way too much time, money
      > and thought trying to implement big, single source CMS
      > where effort is 4X improvement.

      This is true of most large systems (look at ERPs) and is largely due
      to people looking at the you beaut "features" they can get rather than
      analysing their requirements and then finding a system that addresses
      those requirements.

      Unfortunately, content management means so many different things to
      different people it is very easy to end up with the wrong system if
      the requirements are poorly defined. How many times do you see
      questions asking about which CMS someone should get where the
      requirements are vague or non-existent? It doesn't help that vendors
      often don't have a clear vision about which types of problems they are
      aiming to solve - they try to be all things to all people.

      I would rather see some specialisation in the industry so those CMS
      that manage content in terms of workflow and publishing for a website
      are somehow identified as different from those CMS that manage content
      in terms of single-sourcing for different output targets. That way I
      could cut out the 90% of systems that don't meet my requirements as I
      fall into the latter category.

      -Melanie Kendell
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