Contribute 3 adds to the instant web file editing features
a new range or tier of support services that make the product much
more acceptable as Web Content Management editor for large organizations
as well as for small to medium side businesses. Contribute 3 does this
three ways. First, they have bulked up the edit authorization features.
A new role has been added which is edit reviewer. The result is that
some organizations may want to guarantee that all page edits go through
an edit step rather than direct publish. There is a new "Send
button that expedites the process with automatic sending of email notice
to a reviewer with links when a page is completed. In addition, there
is a broader range of resources including new video and audio capabilities
that can be added as permissions to users. Those permissions can vary
with web project and the Content Publishing Services is now centrally
based on a server for faster performance and better central control.
But the essence of Contribute 3 remains its ability to enable instant
Web page edits.
Instant Web Page Edits
Have you ever wanted in a FTP session to just quickly
make some edits to a file and be done with it ? The same visual
edits you are familiar with in Front Page or Dreamweaver. Now you
so with Macromedia Contribute 2. Contribute is not alone among
the web editors
that allow direct,
website - quite a number of direct web page editors from CoffeeCup's
HTML Editor to MDM's FireStorm through telerik's radEditor are
just 3 in a growing group. But what sets Contribute apart from
tools is that it allows not just concurrency controlled edits;
but also protected edits of the web pages.
Direct WebPage Editors
Direct webpage editors allow a user to browse a website, and then
if they have authorized FTP access to that site, they can select
any page from the site and edit it. But what what Contribute adds
to this are two measures of protection. First, Contribute writes
a software lock on the file being edited. All Macromedia
web editing programs including the very popular Dreamweaver,
will respect that software lock and not allow a second party access to
edits until the lock is cleared when the webpage is saved and closed.
A small number of 3rd party apps will also respect the Contribute
file lock. So the Contribute system is not fool proof as I found
to my regret: I opened a webpage in Contribute then later downloaded
the same webpage using WSFTP and after extensive edits resaved the
page using WSFTP. Neither of those page transactions were flagged
by Contribute - so when my colleague closed and saved the Contribute
edition of the file - all my WSFTP-enabled edits were lost.
However, if you are working in the Macromedia family of products,
Contribute gives you a first level of concurrency control. And because
Contribute is able to utilize Dreamweaver's template system - site
administrators can add additional controls. 1)granting write access
to web pages to specific users and 2)even masking off portions of
a web page for access only by a named set of Contribute users.
Again, this within-the-webpage masking can be compromised if other,
external web editors are used. As noted above Contribute 3 considerably
enhances the templating
Finally Contribute has a third control mechanism for webpage editing.
Users are only allowed to do visual edits. WYSIOWYGTEdit- what you
see is only what you get to edit, if that. Remember templates mask
off areas of the page if the administrator chooses to do so. This means
that stylesheets, scripts, plus all HTML/XML tags plus any scripting
are kept largely under wraps. Users can apply existing stylesheets
they cannot edit them or add new ones. Only the site administrator
Hence the logic for Contribute builds up like this. Many sites
have little or no concurrency control - Contribute provides a measure
of this. Second, to get good masking and templates, users have
to step up to Macromedia's Dreamweaver or Adobe GoLive or Microsoft
FrontPage - but these web editors can be complicated and intimidating
especially for analysts and graphics designers whose primary role
design world. In short Contribute does a very good job of shielding
content creators/providers from complexity of web page development;
yet still gives them access to the web page for straightforward content
changes and updates.
However after all is said and done concurrency remains a problem.
To that end ,
Contribute 3 now supports
(including Contribute 3) will be less vulnerable to these type collisions.
WebDAV is an IETF standard for Distributed Authoring and Versioning.
Companies like Adobe, Apple, Documentum, Microsoft and others offer
fairly high levels
support in their
products -- and so concurrency control is enhanced but even Contribute
3 is not impervious to malicious attack.
Speaking of Apple, Contribute 3 out of the box offers latest Mac OS/X
support including support for the Safari browser. As well Flash Paper
2 has been ported to Mac and it offers both in Mac and Windows additional
options. Notable is the ability to publish either to Flash SWF or Adobe
PDF file formats with bookmarking and hyperlinking capabilities.
What Can Be Edited
and dynamic content is still off limits, but contribute 3 adds audio,
video, and new image editing capabilities. In sum, the list of edit
an updates allowed by Contribute is quite formidable. The complete
changing size, style, coloring, and alignment of selected text
is at the users disposal. This includes applying any existing stylesheets
. Tables can be edited including adding or deleting selected rows
and columns while full table or single cells can be edited for
color, borders, padding, horizontal and vertical object alignments.
Contribute 3 adds the Dreamweaver Mx engine which includes more and
better CSS support.
Also links can be added and edited with a neat browser
interface - so users can
to. Ditto for images which now have the Dreamweaver MX Fireworks editing
features(crops, color correct, rotate, etc) while a browser brings
up a thumbnail of either website or locally based images.
with help of a nearby "How Do I" coaching window - that explains
the steps for a many of the key editing tasks. Or traditional Help
file assistance is just a menu click away.
What sets Contribute apart from other direct web page editors
is the control it affords the webmaster and site administrators
over the pages on a website - as noted, these controls are not foolproof,
but they certainly improve the situation in many web development
environs. But there are more goodies that Contribute 3 adds to
the overall package. First and foremost, let us return to FlashPaper. FlashPaper is
really a fast way to capture specialized reports, presentations, and
spreadsheets for full display up on the web. FlashPaper works
as a print file substitute. For example, suppose there is a 6-10 page
key transactions summary produced in Crystal Reports that we want to
display on the web. Crystal allows user to do so but the look and
layout of the web pages is not identical to the printed pages and
their size is huge; but by printing to FlashPaper instead of the
printer a .swf file 1/3rd the size of the Crystal versions is created
and then with Contribute 3 easily embedded in a web page. Ditto
for a 7 page PowerPoint Presentation which was 3/4 the size of
its Microsoft counterpart yet rendered the presentation with precise
colorings, fonts, charts, and images of the original. FlashPaper
makes the job of incorporating complex, multi-media rich presentations,
flowcharts or CAD drawings, system designs with UML diagrams, project
updates with Gannt charts and other graphics-rich reports very
But there is more. Contribute 3 has enhanced imports
of Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and most importantly Access
database info your web pages - again with full formatting
and additional controls. This is handy for displaying database
tables. Contribute also adds SFTP- a secure and notably faster FTP
connection to appropriately enabled servers. In addition, Contribute
3 continues to offer Paypal linkages to simplify the process of using
or services. There is anew Google wizard for setting up local site
search; very nifty. These wizards certainly streamlined the process
of incorporating PayPal and Google on
to see the same type of wizards for Amazon, eBay, and some of the
other major Web services.
Many clients have pretty knowledgeable web development shops; yet
more often I see their developers using Contribute as their browser
- because whenever they spot a problem on a page, they can quickly
go in and edit it and extinguish the bug right away. Our clientele
also like Contribute because it allows them to edit pages for text
and image content without having to wait on our developers. What
we lose in revenue we more than make up for in greater customer
satisfaction and less frayed nerves on both sides of the account.
But on the corporate side, Contribute has had a smaller following
because there was not enough control of the Web development process.
Contribute 3 certainly changes that. CPS-Contribute Publishing Services
runs centrally on a Windows, Mac or Linux server - and greatly broadens
the control of every step of the Web development process. In addition,
Dreamweaver MX2004 has been updated and brought much more closely into
the Contribute control process allowing Web development experts (the
Webmasters) to put the finishing touches on a production website. In
fact the new Macromedia Web Publishing Services Product is just this
mix of Contribute 3, Dreamweaver and enhanced CPS at a special
In sum Contribute is an immediate, direct web page editor (all the
FTP and admin is neatly hidden in the background) which allows simple,
but now expanded content management control. With its new PayPal/Google,
FlashPaper 2, Mac OSX, and SecureFTP support plus improved response
time, Contribute 3 keeps the polish on a very attractive product
whose price at $149 is a bit of a sticky wicket; but the upgrade at
$79 is more palatable, especially for Mac users.