What is Content Management?
First, let's ask: what is content?
When most people refer to content, they mean stuff that resides on web servers. What do people put on web servers? Everything! We put web pages, documents, programs, audio files, movie trailers, and more on the web.
Content management, therefore, is the process of managing stuff on web servers:
Next question: how does one manage content? That's a hard question, because different people will want to manage content different ways:
This diversity of needs has lead us to a diverse set of technologies and products that support putting content on the web. At the same time, as people's needs evolve in different directions, they don't want to completely replace their content management environments; what they need, then, is some technology standards that can allow people to mix and match their existing tools.
WebDAV (Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning) is one of the key technology standards that can bridge today's diverse environment.
State of the Content Management Universe
The Giga Information Group is an industry analyst group that tracks product and technology trends. When they talk about the Content Management, they note that there are four content management niches that are all on a path toward overlapping and converging:
More and more, these distinctions are appearing arbitrary. I mean, a Source Code Management tool needs to track versions of code, allow programmers to find and retrieve source code and, ideally, integrate with development tools. A document management tool needs to track versions of documents, allow business people to search for and retrieve documents and, ideally, integrate with common document authoring software. It doesn't seem to me like those requirements are very different. What differs, really, is the type of audience that uses the tools.
In the past, the makers of source code management tools and development tools agreed to support a common interface called the Source Code Control API (SCC API). That way, anyone could make a development tool that could speak to anyone else's source code management repository (Actually, the SCC API wasn't universal because it was pretty much limited to the Windows operating system). But it was a step toward recognizing that sometimes people wanted to mix and match development tools and repositories from different vendors.
Similarly, in the document management world, there was an interface called the Document Management API (DMA). People who made document authoring tools could support this interface, and hence integrate with any document management repository that supports DMA.
Thus the importance of WebDAV: it is a standard interface that is being adopted in all of these niches. With a common WebDAV interface, it doesn't matter wether or not the repository is a source code repository or a document management repository.
There are still, however, a number of products that haven't supported WebDAV as quickly as we might like. Thus the importance of Slide: Slide provides a framework for implementing content management features on already available repositories.
Copyright © 2000 by B.C. Holmes. Last updated: June 24th, 2000
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