Ektron CMS400.NET Version 5.1

.NET-enabled Content Management System Keeps Getting Better



Ektron CMS400.NET Version 5.1

.NET-enabled Content Management System Keeps Getting Better


By Mike Riley


It has been almost a year since I reviewed Ektron s CMS400.NET version 4.7. Since then, Ektron has been busy making improvements to their flagship product, culminating in their current 5.1 release. This version not only fixes most of the criticisms I had with version 4.7, but also adds a number of exciting new features that make it an immediate upgrade choice for existing Ektron CMS users and a compelling purchase consideration for those organizations seeking a .NET-enabled content management system.


Upgrades & Improvements

The most welcome new feature in version 5.1 is its ability to allow users to manage their own e-mail subscription Web alerts. Using a simple Web interface, site visitors can set their preferences about areas they wish to be notified when those sections are modified. Site administrators will be pleased to discover that the new version also sports a smart automated site replication tool that copies only those files that have changed between, say, a company s staging and production servers. One of my favorite improvements is support for Apple Safari and Mozilla Firefox browsers for content contributors, finally making the system compatible for a realistically diverse corporate enterprise. However, Firefox for Windows users must still install the eWebEditPro application before editing site content (see Figure 1).


Figure 1: Even though version 5.1 is now Firefox friendly, it still requires contributors to install Ektron s eWebEditPro with WebImageFX client to edit site content.


Other changes to the product since my last review include LDAP user authentication support for companies that prefer open directory service alternatives to Microsoft s ActiveDirectory support, customizable self-managed user profiles, and better reporting on specific sections or content types. A switch from JavaScript to Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX) was made for the Workarea folder tree to allow for an infinite amount of folders to be able to view when reviewing the site s file structure within a browser. CMS400 also now supports the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) for companies requiring formalized detail of content being posted. For more details on the DCMI, visit http://dublincore.org.


The product s HTML Form Builder has also been upgraded to allow content managers to easily construct their own forms without developer assistance. Form data can be e-mailed, assigned to another user, as well as redirected to other URLs. Obviously, bug fixes and performance improvements have also been made to further stabilize and scale the product. More information on these and other new additions can be examined at http://www.ektron.com/cms400-web-cms.aspx?id=1719. Visitors can also see several flash-based screencam demonstrations of the product in action, available at http://www.ektron.com/cms400-web-cms.aspx?id=922, as well as request a live demo of the product. Unfortunately this option requires user registration, so be prepared to be contacted shortly thereafter by an Ektron representative eager to make a sale.


Minor Issues

Unfortunately, the Ektron Explorer interface is still PC-centric Internet Explorer-specific. The Ektron Explorer is a binary plug-in that extends the Windows Explorer and Internet Explorer to provide simple drag and drop file management between the user s desktop and the Ektron server. While the Windows/IE platform limitation is understandably required by this Windows extension, it nevertheless restricts this ease-of-use extension for certain corporate audiences. Even so, it provides an outstanding content management experience to help quickly identify a thumbnail of the page, who last edited the content, and the edit timestamp (see Figure 2 for details).


Figure 2: The Ektron Explorer plug-in provides easy site file management via the familiar Windows Explorer interface.


Developer examples are still in VB.NET-only syntax, but at least they have been better organized into their respective functions, such as Cache, Calendar, Collection, ListSummary, Menu, Search, XML, etc. And for those early adopters who have already made the big leap to the recently released .NET 2.0 Framework, expect to see this in future versions of CMS400, as the 5.1 release is still at the .NET 1.x stage.



Even with these lingering issues, Ektron has unquestionably improved their flagship CMS product in a short amount of time. Based on the rapid pace that Ektron has added these new abilities, it is obvious that they intend CMS400 to be the predominant commercial content management system for the .NET platform.


In addition to addressing past deficiencies, the site replication, ActiveDirectory and LDAP support, and user self-administration features further propel it to welcome enterprise status. Given the accelerated pace of improvements made to the CMS400 in this brief period of time, I am eager to see what future capabilities are in store for this system. Even so, Ektron s commitment to rapid continuous improvement of its product solidifies my previous recommendation. Those companies seeking a .NET-enabled CMS that can afford Ektron s price tag will be hard pressed to find a better Web content management system on the market today.


Mike Riley is an advanced computing professional specializing in emerging technologies and new development trends. He also is a contributing editor for asp.netPRO. Readers may contact Mike at mailto:[email protected].



Web Site: http://www.ektron.com/cms400.aspx

Price: 10 users, US$7,200; unlimited (Enterprise) users, US$29,999



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