The Next Step in CMS
Early adopters are now turning to customizable, open-source solutions.
By Matt Kinsman
Each publisher defines "content management" differently, and many define it in multiple ways. "There are two ways to look at it: one is a strategic way based on delivery;what do we have in print, what do we have online, in gaming communities, etc.," says John Siefert, publisher of CMP’s Network Computing. "From a technical way, how can this system actually organize content in a way that my users want to interact with it?"
Even publishers that were early adopters are upgrading their current CMS, thanks to interactive software being baked into some of the new content management systems, which allow the audience to contribute even as the publishing staff generates content.
Network Computing uses a system from Interwoven, one of very first publishing-centric content management systems. "It’s done a good job but we’re in the process of evaluating some upgraded systems with open source that will enable us to have a development community at networkcomputing.com," says Siefert. "Originally, we liked Interwoven because it allowed us to classify specific content in specific ways. What was a little funky about it was there was some extremely long URLs being tied to content which made it difficult for users to navigate."
Network Computing launched a program called Rolling Reviews that solicits feedback from its audience, including IT professionals who help the staff create some of the evaluation criteria. "The biggest value is to engage they user in what they really want to get," says Siefert. "With Rolling Reviews, we’re creating a valuation criteria in real time. New content management systems let people come in no matter what type of system they’re using. They can actually help us develop the content we would use to build an entire feature report that could run in the magazine or Web site or behind a gate. That’s the biggest driver for us and what we think is the coolest thing coming out."
The Deal is currently undergoing a redesign for its electronic products with the goal of developing a CMS that can work across multiple groups, including print, online, and events. Currently, The Deal uses K4 for print and Content Server for online, which converts everything out of K4 for the Web. "Everyone is working on print and online at same time along the food chain," says Tom Groppe, executive editor, electronic media. "Someone editing a print story is also applying metadata when they tag a story, or it follows that story into the content management system as metadata. We’re trying to build this hybrid approach."
The Deal’s current CMS is expandable but limited, according to Groppe. "Eight years ago it was kind of standard to go out and buy a content management system because it was hard to build your own," he says. "It’s a lot easier now with open source and there are more well-versed people in those platforms that can build something more customizable. It’s hard to customize CMS systems that come out of a box."
Groppe says he’d like a way to do things automatically rather than manual intervention to provide connections between elements such as video and audio multi-media assets. "Our current system doesn’t let you do that easily," he adds. "We need a way to create publications and packages on the fly. With a blog, it’s pretty easy to create new blog and there are some pretty powerful templates you can set up the way you want but in current CMS templates, it’s hard."