The Wide Area content management platform
Publishers have always been an important part of Wide Area’s business. When we started out, our content-publishing customers were about moving print-based content to the web, today we serve as many emerging media businesses as legacy publishing companies.
Using the experience we gain from each project, we concentrate our development resource into refining one system, adding new functionality for all our clients, and occasionally adding client specific functions if definitely required.
Now in its sixth iteration, there are three enduring design objectives that define our application:
It had to implement a publishing process
This comes down to three points:
- the system had to understand that not all content can be immediately published. As such the system has a notion of ‘staged’ content and ‘live’ content with an approval process by which a ‘staged’ article can become a ‘live’ article – with a separate web site where staged content can be seen.
- different people can do different things. For example, some people may be capable to create staged content and submit it for approval but not actually be allowed to approve the content and make it live.
- no content should be lost. If, for example, an articles goes through five revisions before it is published then all five versions are kept. Moreover, no content is actually deleted from the system – it may be marked as deleted but remains in the back end database
To clearly separate content from design
Generally the people who produce content do not want to manage how it appears within the page. They do want to manage details like which words are in italics and what images appear – but they do not want to manage the actual page. For example, a person writing for a magazine wants to write their content in Word and not learn how to use Adobe InDesign.
On paper and on the web, this separation makes publishing simpler and easier allowing people with different skills to concentrate on what they do best. Moreover this separation allows content to be more simply targeted at new platforms as they appear. For example our system has been used to deliver content to mobile phone platforms, iPhone apps and the Kindle.
To allow simple changes to be made simply
There is nothing more frustrating than to use a system and find that something which is perceived as a simple change is complicated. We have expectations of what changes can be made from our use of other applications and these should apply to a web based CMS. For example, if I want to resize a picture in a document then I should be able to do with a few clicks – the same should be true of a web based CMS.