Macromedia looks to ease Web site updates

Macromedia Inc. on Monday will announce Macromedia Contribute, a desktop application extending Web site editing to laymen.

The US$99 application, which will be available for Windows in December, enables users to easily update, add, and publish Web content to existing Web sites without requiring technical skills other than word processing, according to San Francisco-based Macromedia. Administrators can set up role-based privileges for use of the product to limit what specific persons can and cannot do.

Macromedia officials said the product will alleviate the burden on Web site professionals of having to make every requested change to a Web site themselves, with those requests often coming from many people.

"This allows people to contribute changes themselves, so if you're a business professional, you can actually put content onto the Web site," said Kevin Lynch, chief software architect at Macromedia. "It's just like using a word processor."

The Contribute software functions with any HTML Web site, such as those coded with Macromedia Dreamweaver MX or Microsoft FrontPage.

To update a site, users browse the Web page they wish to change, edit the page and publish their updated page to the live site. Contribute is integrated with Microsoft Word and Excel to enable drag-and-drop of files from those applications and using them as Web content.

Users can e-mail draft pages for review before publishing, and pages can be updated offline and published afterward.

An early user of Contribute gave the tool a thumbs-up.

"My experience with the product is that I like it because it's fairly self-explanatory and loaded with a lot of the options that would be helpful from an administrative point of view as well as [for] users," said Mary Norbury-Glaser, LAN administrator and Web designer at the Barbara Davis Center at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, in Denver.

"You can edit pages as well as browse them. From an administrator's point of view I don't have to worry about security issues for users because I can lock pages and leave some parts of pages editable to users," she said.

The only issues Marbury-Glaser had with the product were a setup procedure that she described as a "little klunky" and a lack of documentation. But she added she expects this situation to improve.

Simultaneous with the release of Contribute, an update to Dreamweaver MX will be available to enable administration of Contribute from within Dreamweaver. Contribute also features administrative functions on its own.

A Mac OS X version of Contribute is planned for release in 2003.

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