Macromedia has announced Contribute 3 (http://www.macromedia.com/software/contribute/) and the new Web Publishing System (http://www.macromedia.com/software/webpublishingsystem/), and several of you have already written to ask about the relationship between the Web Publishing System (WPS for short) and ColdFusion. So …
WPS is made up of several technologies and features. On the tool side, WPS includes Macromedia Studio and Contribute 3. For those of you who have never seen Contribute, it is a simple Web site editing tool, one that empowers users to quickly create, edit, and publish Web pages (ok, it is a lot more than that, but that is beyond the scope of this post).
New to Contribute 3 is a brilliantly simple review and approval system. If any of you have had to deal with content management systems, you’ll know that they typically employ rigid approval rules and systems which stifle flexibility and introduce horrendous bureaucracy into what should be a painless experience. I have lost count of the stories I have heard of organizations deploying content management systems only to find that these make life more complicated than it was previously. In fact, I’d venture to suggest that most content management systems emphasize management over content, and that is part of what Contribute 3 is designed to address. Contribute boasts a remarkably simple review and approval process, one that does not require complex rules to be defined, and one that does not even require anything to be installed on the server (well, nothing more than what would already be used for file deployment, like FTP). Contribute users simply create or edit files, and when done the changes are posted live if allowed, or routed for approval if needed. It is lightweight, non-intrusive, and just works. But it works for static content, and is not really intended for dynamic content. Application pages, like .cfm files, can indeed be edited, but only the static portions of those pages (headers, footers, any HTML). This may work for some ColdFusion applications, it depends on how those are built. It will not work at all for 100% data-driven dynamic sites (where a page contains a series of CFML tags making calls to back-end stuff, and nothing more), but may work for sites that are data-driven but have client-side code (presentation) right inside of the page.
In addition, the WPS includes Contribute Publishing Services (CPS for short). CPS is a Java application that is deployed on top of any J2EE servers (just like ColdFusion). CPS can be used for more sophisticated user directory control (which may or may not be of interest to ColdFusion developers) and to track publishing activity. The latter allows developers (like ColdFusion developers) to write server-side code that is triggered when changes are made within Contribute (a file is edited, a change is routed for approval, approval is given, and so on). The ability to track publishing activities allows ColdFusion Developers to write CFC code to send alerts via e-mail, write changes to databases, move files across servers, and more, all using familiar CFML code.
Or in other words … Contribute itself may be used to edit the static portions of ColdFusion files, Contribute and the WPS will be of use in managing and editing static content within your applications, the CPS may be deployed on the same server as ColdFusion, and ColdFusion is ideally suited for back-end tracking code.
Lots to think about, and I’m sure lots will be written on the subject in the coming months.