Atex? Who?

  • 8-Sep-2010

A couple of people pinged me last week, basically asking, "who are these Atex people?" (The company's name got a bit elevated when they made it onto Gartner's recent Magic Quadrant analysis for web content management.)  Atex is actually not a very high-profile vendor in WCM, though the product name "Polopoly" may ring a bell. Atex is a U.K. company specialized in managing content for print, and acquired Swedish Web CMS vendor Polopoly two years ago.

It's not a system we cover in our Web Content Management research, mostly since it's a bit too nichy to make the list. However, we always keep more systems on our radar than we could possibly publish about. (When we assist customers in a selection process, it's quite common one of the systems on a shortlist will be a wildcard we don't cover in our regular research stream. If you want to know our opinion on anything that's not in our list, let us know.)

So let me give you a quick rundown. Polopoly is a Java system that revolves around the concept of "publishing queues". And as usual, Polopoly's publishing queues are not at all the publishing queues you may know from other systems. In this CMS, you put such queues on a page, and they'll automatically generate presentations of items fitting the criteria. For instance, you'd create a page "News about Penguins," which contains a queue that's "the newest ten items from 'animals' tagged with 'penguin'." The page would then automatically generate Penguin News from new and existing content. That's a simple example -- Polopoly is pretty sophisticated in these kinds of controls.

How is this nichey? Well, apart from the fact that Atex is very much focused on the print industry -- as was Polopoly, even before the acquisition -- this kind of publishing model certainly isn't for everyone. It makes a lot of sense for media/news sites, and authors tend to like the way they can just write articles and not be bothered too much about where to publish them in a site tree. But this kind of metadata-driven placeless content comes with quite a few challenges as well. And Polopoly is not particularly flexible in adapting to other scenarios than it was built for. 

If, however, you're in (print) media, and the concept of publishing queues appeals to you, you may want to have a closer look at Polopoly. Be sure to compare it to our review of Escenic (which serves similar scenarios, among others). And as always -- feel free to ask our opinion. Something may not be on our menu, but we usually keep enough in our kitchen to tailor a dish on request.

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Leona Coffee, Director, Central Web Office National Academy of Sciences

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