Six years ago, ThomasNet eliminated Microsoft Word from its editors’ desktops. “It was one of the best things we ever did,” says ThomasNet director Paul Gerbino.
As a digital-only publisher, ThomasNet had more incentive than most to dump Word. “When you try to incorporate any kind of word document, there’s a lot of coding that creates some challenges,” says Gerbino. “We needed to database all of the content editors were creating. We started looking at the flow by which editors create stories.”
Since then, ThomasNet has migrated to a hybrid approach with open source. “If you ask me today, Would I buy off-the-shelf or build?, I’d do it somewhere in the middle,” says Gerbino. “At the time these were more document management systems than content management systems. We had to bite the bullet but the savings in terms of reducing number of servers and maintaining servers made it a lot easier for us.”
At Hearst, in-house copy is written in Adobe InCopy while most freelance work is submitted in Word. The complication, according to director of editorial operations Ellen Payne, is the print side uses K4 as a CMS while the online side has their own CMS they built themselves. “It would be logical if everyone was in the same CMS but K4 does not meet the needs of digital media,” says Payne. “We were already a K4 shop and what digital media does isn’t conducive to a print workflow.
“The Web editors have K4 plus the internal digital CMS. If some copy was written in-house for the Web, it may be routed through K4. It’s simplified but it’s an effective way of tracking stories before it gets uploaded into the CMS,” Payne continued.
Best of Both Worlds?
Boardroom Inc., a publisher of consumer newsletters and books, recently adopted Nuqleo, an enterprise content publishing system based on the Adobe InDesign server.
Boardroom can still start the story in a Word container and send it back to an e-mail address, which the system processes and sends to a unique location. An editor is notified that the story has been received. From there, if story is in good enough shape, the system will convert it from Word into XML and staff can use the Web-based Nuqleo editor.
“If you can have a Web browser that allows you to set type, that’s pretty darn good,” says Ken Sevey, manager of desktop publishing. “The interface is not ideal for editors because they keep thinking in terms of Word, especially all those years working in Word and getting instant gratification when you bold something. It doesn’t work that way. But to be able to search for things by name by date, or by full text right in the editor is powerful.”