Product Review: Revize: A Great Solution for Static Sites

Content management on the Web has taken various specialised forms, from dynamic personalisation of a visitor's experience to full-blown portal solutions offering data warehousing and indexing capabilities. Small and midsized organisations that lack the coffers or requirements for dynamically served content can shave a few zeros off the price tag of content management with Idetix' Revize 2.1.

Revize provides a low-cost tool that allows nontechnical personnel to securely implement changes to a Web site's content. Through page templates and wizard-like editors, administrators automate the Web publishing process for content editors, insulating them from HTML scripting and FTP transfer while assuring conformity to established publishing guidelines.

Unlike higher-end systems, such as Vignette's StoryServer, Revize only updates static Web pages, making it unsuitable for a database-driven site. And, with no facility to import existing Web sites or even recognise Revize-enabled template documents, the error-prone process of "revizing" a large corporate Web site could quickly become a time-consuming chore.

However, Revize performs well and offers the easiest-to-implement low-end content-management solution I have seen. Administrators will appreciate the Java-based design capable of running atop any Web server. Revize's browser-based client applet also makes it easier and less costly than competitor PanaSite's client/server approach.

Building a content-management system with Revize is not complicated, but it is time-consuming. I began by examining my HTML document to identify "data areas" within the page architecture that could be managed by Revize. For example, a database record could be replaced with a RevizeScript placeholder tag, which is later merged with actual data to form a complete HTML page. The page code is left intact, and the actual data is stored in a Revize database for centralised management.

An especially positive aspect of Revize is that it integrates with your existing document technology, including HTML, Extensible Markup Language, Microsoft Active Server Pages, JavaScript, and even ColdFusion, so your investment won't necessitate add-ons.

Once the template was created by hand in an external editor, I opened the Revize Control Panel to build a database module for storing the actual data. Although Revize offers an easy-to-navigate tabbed interface, I had to hand-code each data-field name. An automated, less error-prone approach would have extracted field names from the template.

Revize handles all database management tasks and, in addition to its own format, supports any ODBC-compliant database.

The Control Panel is also used by administrators to set content editors' access privileges. An editor can add and delete changes, or have permissions limited, for example, to submit changes without being able to publish them. This useful feature allows for proper authorisation and signoff prior to publishing live updates to a Web site.

To utilise the publishing capabilities of Revize, content editors simply log in to the Web-based Java applet Control Panel. A user can make changes to text, images, or files in the database by simply choosing the document module from the Control Panel, selecting the data to change, and entering new information. The Control Panel even allows editors to preview the final page prior to submitting the change. When the new data is published, Revize stores the update in the database and merges the data with the appropriate template, creating a complete, static HTML page on the server. However, because Revize has no capability for even rudimentary text formatting, such as the option to bold or underline text, editors still need to possess some degree of HTML knowledge.

(James R. Borck (james.borck@industrialart.com) is a regular contributor to Computerworld affiliate, InfoWorld and IS Director for Industrial Art & Science, in Connecticut.)The bottom line: goodRevize 2.1Summary: This solution offers effective low-end content-management capabilities, but its limited feature set isn't up to the challenges of large, dynamic Web sites.

Business Case: Revize is not as full-featured as higher-priced content-management solutions, but unlimited user licensing and easy deployment make it faster to implement and less expensive than competitor PanaSite.

Pros

+ Inexpensive

+ Modest learning curve

+ Platform and server independent

Cons

- Nonintuitive template implementation

- No version control

- No internal HTML editor

Cost: $US895 per URL, includes unlimited user licencePlatforms: Server: Any environment capable of running Java Virtual Machine 1.1+Idetix Inc., Troy, Michigan; www.revize.com

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