A Comprehensive Review of eZ Publish - Open Source Enterprise Content Management SystemBy Angsuman Chakraborty, Gaea News Network
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
eZ publish is a commercially-supported, dual license web content management system by Norway-based eZ systems. eZ publish is one of the most popular enterprise content management system. So, those who are not familiar with Content Management System (or need a brush-up), lemme give you a brief introduction to CMS and ECM.
Content Management System
A content management system (CMS) is a computer application used to create, edit, manage, and publish content in a consistently organized fashion. CMSs are frequently used for storing, controlling, versioning, and publishing industry-specific documentation.
Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is the technology used to capture, manage, store, preserve, and deliver content and documents related to organizational processes. ECM tools and strategies help in managing an organization’s unstructured information.
The five ECM components and technologies of the ECM model were first defined by AIIM as follows:
More will be discussed about Enterprise Content Management System and its special features later. For now let us consider eZ publish.
Content Structure and Editing
eZ publish ships with several basic content types such as articles and various binary formats and as well as complex content types, such as a company (that could be used to support a feature like a partner directory) and a product. Content types can be defined at run time through the management UI by creating classes from attributes based on roughly 30 pre-defined datatypes (such as text, selection, xml block).
HTML Format and Editor
The XML block datatype is used to store user formatted text for free-text areas. Content stored in these attributes is actually stored as an XML markup rather than plain HTML. For example, rather than using an h1 HTML tag, eZ publish requires a user to use heading level=”1”. The Online Editor (now bundled with the basic eZ publish package) gives the user a WYSIWYG form control so he does not have to be aware of the XML based content behind the scenes.
Components for Webpage
In eZ publish, a page on a website has two components:
- The node or location
- The actual content object: Stores the content.
This design allows a single piece of content to be used in several places on the website. This feature is very useful for situations like having a news folder with all the news articles and then promoting certain articles on the home page.
eZ publish does not support an in-site editing model where a user can navigate through the site and click on an icon to make an edit. Instead, eZ publish has a management interface that is standard and is kept totally separate from the visitor facing website. Actually, it can be a bit overwhelming for non- techie user. But I would suppose that anyone who has the power to operate the administrative panel isn’t a non- techie at all.
The panel comes with lots of options.
The architecture of keeping the management interface separate from the visitor view is controlled by a system called siteaccess Each siteaccess is a set of configurations that control what design is used and what content is being managed.
Versioning and Translation System
eZ publish has a very strong versioning and translation system. Each content object can have different versions (called drafts until they are published and archived if they are replaced by a newer published version). Content can be rolled back by copying an older version forward and publishing the copied version. But these features are normal even for Wordpress. So what’s new?
By default, eZ publish will save 10 versions of a content object but that setting is configurable. Each version can have one or more translations. In this way, different translations of the same content object can be kept in sync. Different language versions of the same website are controlled by the siteaccess framework in which a primary language and fall back languages are set.
The presentation part is fairly simple but attractive for eZ publish. A considerable amount of time is used to keep the presentation in mind. Because there is a proverb that, there is never a second chance for first impression. There is an option of template rule, configuring which gives you sorted out templates and makes your job fairly easy.
eZ publish manages two sets of URLs:
1. The system URL: It is of the format [module]/[view]/parameters (for example, /content/view/12 to view node 12)
2. The search engine friendly virtual URLs: They are automatically managed by the system based on the name of the node (example: “/about”)
The presentation supports three level of caching:
- View caching: View caching caches the output of the view
- Template caching: template caching stores compiled PHP code (generated from interpreting the templates) that is optimized by using “cache-block” statements in the page templates
- Static caching. Static cache stores rendered static HTML on the file system for rapid access. When you configure static cache, you tell it under what conditions to refresh the cache. Which is a very useful feature to have.
Help and Support
There is a very helpful and extremely competent group of people in the community who are eager to help. If you are in a trouble, then paid support is also available.
Features Explained By Screenshot
1. Publish content from your web browser
2. Publish content from your favourite word processor
3. Translate your content
4. Upload multiple files at once
5. Picture galleries
6. Web 2.0 features
eZ publish still needs some improvements in building up a module development community (that Mambo, Drupal already have). eZ publish is restricted to a single editor though being an open source platform. So, the developers can bring out an alternative. We will like them to.
All said and done, eZ publish is a very reliable and versatile ECM. Hope you will like it and give us your feedback about it as well.
[Sincere thanks: ez.no/ezpublish, blog.contenthere.net]
Tags: CMS Software, ECM, enterprise content management system, eZ publish, Open Source, Separate, So what