Brisbane-based software developer Ephox is poised to release the complete-specification version of its EditLive! Web content management software, following the announcement in recent weeks of licensing deals with Griffith University in Queensland, the Ngee Ann Polytechnic in Singapore and several other Asian Web development companies. EditLive! is a content management tool that functions as a plug-in to a Web browser, giving users access to back-end database and server. The product, which has existed as a Beta, has been complemented with a spell-checking function and file transfer component improvements, and is due for public release on 5 May. Ephox is also working on Chinese and Japanese language versions, which will greatly assist the product's use throughout South-East Asia.
Discussing the release on 4 May, company founder Andrew Roberts said that the popularity of the product with educational institutions owes much to the variety of ways in which universities have used the Web to facilitate management of the vast amounts of data they control. "EditLive! becomes a very integral part of their content management architecture," said Roberts. "Universities are now trying to build better ways of managing this content, and since we're the only product that works with Netscape, we're an enabler that allows them to do these things."
At 22, Roberts was awarded Queensland's Young Australian of the Year in its Science and Technology section. He admits that as far as roles within Ephox goes, he was "all things" when he established Ephox out of a $2000 Nescafe Big Break prize he received in 1999; he now manages a team of 12 people, with more on the way. His father, who resigned his own job to take over the executive chairmanship of his son's company, is part of the management structure that has allowed Andrew to further develop EditLive!.
Initial interest has come from Griffith University, to which Ephox is supplying 50,000 licences for EditLive!, as well as Singapore's Ngee Ann Polytechnic, which has bought 10,000 licences. Griffith has received a specially developed version of the program called UniLive Server, which it is using to allow lecturers participating in its enterprise courseware delivery system to serve and manage course content for students to access online. While several universities on the east coast of Australia are also investigating EditLive!'s potential, it is the South-East Asian market that has proved most fruitful for Roberts. Backing from Innotech, a Singaporean business specialising in e-commerce solutions, comprised a substantial amount of the $500,000 in investments raised by Ephox so far. The Innotech deal potentially means another 7 million licences throughout South-East Asia.
Although other applications of EditLive! include Ozejobs, which offers its clients the potential to update their online résumés using EditLive!, Roberts admits that it is the educational institutions that are the "opinion leaders on the Web", adding that the groundwork to this has paid off. "We've been talking to the university market for a year," said Roberts. "For us, they represent a lot of licences, they have a need for the product."