Monday, November 11, 2002

More Thoughts on Contributor's value for CFers

There's a lot of talk today in various forums about the value and impact of Contributor for CF (and other web app developers). As I started to say in my previous entry, I think it will take time to sort out the impact not only for the clearly intended audience (folks needing simple content management systems, and developers who previously did updates for that audience), as well as the impact on the content management business (don't know that it will be a category killer, but it could in some segments).

But there's also the question of the impact for general CF (and other web app) developers.

While it may seem that the product is geared toward static sites, it does indeed support dynamic sites (it will automatically lock such server-side code to prevent the user editing it). And they suggested in the announcement conference call that it will change even more regarding that sort of development environment.

But I've been thinking about it in a way that perhaps may seem unorthodox to some. Many may even disagree. I'd also argue that it's possible that many sites that are currently dynamic could be switched to being more static. For instance, many use server-side coding simply to facilitate reusable/moderately changeable aspects of interface design (nav bars, page layout, reusable content segments). While Dreamweaver MX's template feature could be used for some of this, many web app developers prefer to do such things the old fashioned way (in CF, using CFINCLUDE and coordinating the upload of that code themselves). With DWMX, they would need to "republish"
the site whenever they'd change the template, rather than simply changing the included file. And while you could maybe put that power into the client's hands, they would have to have DWMX.

Contribute could change that sort of scenario, bringing the power of DWMX's templating feature to alleviate the page being dynamic just for these reusable components, without the user having to have DWMX.

This doesn't diminish CF's place (or whatever server-side coding one may use). Instead, it limits it to being used only for things that truly are dynamic (database, component, or web server-generated info, for instance). This could have a performance impact by allowing pages that are currently CF (or ASP/JSP/PHP) templates (just for the reusable interface aspects) to be reset to static pages.

But another reason server-side coding is often used is simply to facilitate creation/editing of content in a portion of a page. This, of course, is another thing that Contribute would alleviate entirely.

Still, the current lack of an approval/workflow system will keep some from jumping at the opportunity. It's seems the challenge is how to solve that adequately for all preferences. I can see how that would be a dilemma.

Again, time will tell both in how people find ways to best use it as well as how the product may evolve.

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