The Ideal CMS -- 2002
By Tony Byrne at 2002-12-31 00:00:00 |
Please note: if you are looking for the latest and greatest "supergroup" assembly, see our 2004 edition instead.
What if you could graft the best features and attributes of individual Web content management packages into one single, ideal offering? You know, sort of like those rock "Supergroups" of yore, like Cream, or Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young?
Well, even if license fees were not an issue, vastly differing product architectures would prevent anyone from readily cobbling together a "SuperCMS" from multiple offerings. But it's still useful (and fun) to consider what packages would be best suited to provide specific features.
In that spirit CMSWatch presents its first annual "Ideal CMS," based on package versions in production as of late 2002.
What Features from Which Product?
In the sections below, I use the CMS lifecycle taken from The CMSWatch Report to identify which package I would want to employ for each individual step. The lifecycle divides into two phases -- Content Production and Delivery -- each with eight steps.
Note that I only judge products on features available "out of the box" in a core product, ignoring optional product modules that come at an additional cost. Admittedly, this approach favors some vendors (like Vignette) that have combined previously optional products into a single core offering. Moreover, there are no concrete specifications here -- always a tenuous place to start when selecting technologies.
Also, you'll see a mingling of products across a variety of price points and target markets. To even things out a bit, I tried to choose competencies relative to competition from within the same tier of packages. In any case, some lower-cost products simply do certain things better than their enterprise-level competitors. For a complete list of the products under review, check out our CMS Products page.
OK, let's take a look at the products from which I would "take" functionality within each step of the two phases to comprise the ideal CMS.
Content Production Phase
In this phase, content is managed from conception to going live, what I call "from thought to click." There are eight key features to examine here.
- Role Management. Take from: MediaSurface. Honorable mention: Ingeniux.
- Authoring & Transformation. Take from: Tridion. Honorable mentions: Stellent, RedDot, and CrownPeak.
- Aggregation. Take from: Day. Honorable mention: Vignette.
- Library Services. Take from: Interwoven. Honorable mentions: Microsoft, CrownPeak.
- Metadata Management. Take from: Vignette. Honorable mention: Stellent.
- Workflow. Take from: Documentum. Honorable mention: Stellent.
- Localization. Take from: Tridion. Honorable mentions: FileNET, Day.
- Promotion Path. Take from: Gauss. Honorable mentions: Percussion, Merant.
Content Delivery Phase
In this phase, content is delivered to end-users. Although this phase could be measured in the microseconds it takes your server to spool off and send an HTML stream to the requestor, there are still significant content management issues to address. However, it is questionable whether your CMS should be undertaking this delivery, as opposed to an application server or portal.
Indeed, I think appservers are better at many of these steps than most CMS offerings, but since in many cases CMS packages still play a role in content delivery, let's have a closer look.
- Page Assembly. Take from: Midgard. Honorable mention: Microsoft, Percussion.
- Index & Site Search. Take from: Atomz. Honorable mentions: PaperThin, Zope. But do you really want your CMS to provide your search facilities?
- Personalization. Take from: Broadvision.
- Privileges Management. Look elsewhere. CMS products really don't do this very well.
- Caching & Replication. Take from: divine. Honorable mention: Vignette.
- Syndication. Take from: Ingeniux. Honorable mentions: Ektron, Vignette.
- Output to Alternate Formats. Take from: Documentum. Honorable mention: Tridion.
- Vending. Take from: Vignette.
Of course, there is more to a complete Web content management system than lifecycle feature sets. So in the list below, I identify some other, more intangible attributes I would draw from specific products or companies.
- Active User Group. Take from: Documentum. Honorable mentions: Interwoven, Microsoft.
- User-friendly Interface. Take from: CrownPeak. Honorable mention: Tridion.
- Accessibility/508 Compliance. Take from: PaperThin.
- Activity Reporting. Take from: CrownPeak.
- Overall Value: Take from: PaperThin. Honorable mentions: Zope, Fatwire, Ektron.
- Knowledgeable Sales Staff: Take from: Zope. Honorable mentions: FileNET, Documentum.
Parting Thoughts for 2002
So you can see that my ideal Web content management "Supergroup," circa 2002, would require me to integrate components or attributes from no less than 15 different companies across the 21 categories.
No single vendor dominates here. Vignette gets mentioned 5 times, but tends to excel in lower profile categories, like "Vending." Tridion and CrownPeak appear 4 times; Stellent, Documentum, Microsoft, Zope, and PaperThin: 3 times. No one else shows up more than twice.
This industry is still young, folks.
If you are seeking out a CMS package, however, you shouldn't read too much into these lists. Content management is highly situational. Your content is unique, and your management requirements will vary. A deeper exploration of the attributes and products above can be found in The CMSWatch Report and you can find a lot of other independent product information online, too. Do your homework before you select a package.