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  1. #1
    Non-Member Siltrince's Avatar
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    Review - Macromedia Contribute

    These comments are in regards to the SitePoint.com article 'Review - Macromedia Contribute'.

    Sounds like a great application to me , not every webdesigner makes large dynamic websites.
    I think the market for this program is still more then big enough. I'm certainly interested.

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard Crowe's Avatar
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    I've demo'd this software as well and it's pretty good. I had the same concerns as the review mentioned, like it not being web based and a $100 bucks a pop. Still though, for small-medium static sites this is perfect. The demo went very smooth and I liked what I saw.

    I think there is a pretty good market for this kind of solution.
    Chrispian H. Burks
    Nothing To Say

  3. #3
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    Contribute

    I have tested Contribute on a large static site and also helped the site owner to download and try the program - so far I like it very much as a designer - I am not sure if I can convince my clients to purchase a copy to be able to make some site updates though, as simple text/content changes take me but a couple minutes. Major design changes and site additions would still have to be handled by the designer - at least it seemed to complicated for the client I tested the program with.

    Overall I like it - but just like the review states - only for small to medium sized static sites - the good news - there are still plenty of those around
    S. Sharp
    Project Manager
    GlendaleDesigns

  4. #4
    Team SitePoint AlexW's Avatar
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    I'm not so convinced of it as a concept. I must say I haven't installed the software, but I'll play develi's advocate here anyway.

    At the 'brochureware' end of the market, perhaps something like a cleaning business or a small-town accountancy firm, who may just want to maintain a permanent 'online business card' that helps explain their services, and tell people how and where to contact them. These type of businesses would most likely only want to edit their address details or phone number occasionally. $99 seems like a lot to pay for the ability to make occasional changes like that.

    As an authoring solution, Contribute seems to specialize in authoring text. Perfect for something like 'Press Releases' or 'Company News', you might think.

    But you don't have to be adding new content very often before it becomes a real content management headache. The client has to write the new press release, then needs to update the archive/table of contents page, most likely the coverpage (to point out the new content) and possibly the sitemap too.

    That's a lot of work, and a definite disincentive to making updates to the site.

    It might be a good solution for small scale retailers, say hardware or camping stores that may have slowly changing stock lines. But then again, there's a limited benefit from showing a customer a tent or a hammer unless you can make the sale then and there, and I can't imagine how Contribute would work in with an ecommerce backend.

    There seem to be two diametrically opposed forces at work here. The easier that Contribute makes it for businesses to write more new contentfor their site, the harder the problem of managing that new content becomes.
    Last edited by AlexW; Dec 5, 2002 at 17:12.
    Alex Walker
    SitePoint Developer
    SitePoint - Learnable

  5. #5
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    We build all of our websites using SQL Server db's and ColdFusion/ASP, but there are a few sites we host where the owners can't afford to pay for a new db-driven template and came to us from another server with their site intact. They prefer, or perhaps only really know about, MS Frontpage and its subsequent extensions to update and add content to their website. Frontpage Extensions are easy to hack, and the system is very arcane, but hey, somebody's got to pay the bills

    Now thanks to Contribute, we have moved a handful of clients over to this far superior software, and we don't have to worry about wacky Frontpage publishing habits or poorly written code (well, at least not as bad). They have the power to maintain their own site (good), but within the safe confines of a system that is hard to screw up and then call us for tech support (great).

    It's not the best solution by far, but i feel Contribute is a worthwhile product and will comfortably find its place in the static site market as it truly deserves to.

    Not everyone needs a dynamic site. Sometimes static HTML works just fine.

    geof

  6. #6
    SitePoint Enthusiast
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    Originally posted by Geof Harries

    Not everyone needs a dynamic site. Sometimes static HTML works just fine.
    So, would you say that Contribute is best suited for static sites?

  7. #7
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    Static sites are what Contribute is intended for. Well, at least as far as we can tell, unless Macromedia releases a database connection module in the future for the software.

    There is plenty of info here:

    http://www.macromedia.com/software/c...uickstart.html

    My advice to anyone who has clients that update their own sites, and as a company you no longer have the time (or financial need) to do the maintenance for them, then go forth into Contribute. It's an awesome product for static sites.

    geof

  8. #8
    Confirmed Halfwit
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    Originally posted by AlexW
    These type of businesses would most likely only want to edit their address details or phone number occasionally. $99 seems like a lot to pay for the ability to make occasional changes like that.
    I agree.. there are lots of cheaper (and online) content editing solutions that can "plug in" to a website to allow editing of only pre-specified html areas.

    That being said, I've used contribute on a number of projects, and have found it easy to use. My customers are happy, and they like the "feel" of the application. Is it worth $99? Well... I suppose if your customer buys it, then it is.
    - A simple online WYSIWYG editor for HTML code snippets.
    - Managed Web Hosting - $3.95/month (resellers welcome)
    - Why pay more? $8.95 domains & $9.95 SSL certificates!

  9. #9
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    Sorry, but I have to disagree with those who think $99 is too expensive for Contribute. Where I work, every department is billed for using another's services (not great I know, but I'm not management and can't change that). The Software Engineering department I work in has a going rate of $72 per hour. Basically, this product pays for itself after 1.5 hours of us updating it, and half the time we're too busy worrying about DB-driven and dynamic sites to even WANT to update some text on a static site. I think that as long as our clients don't get too 'adventurous' while updating content it would be a good solution for those static sites we still run.

    --Vinnie

  10. #10
    Team SitePoint AlexW's Avatar
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    We have a base-level, 'white site' CMS that we use on even the brochureware sites that we occasionally knock up. It has a standardized admin and we drop a cut-down version of Editize into it, but their are literally dozens of cheap or free WYSIWYG rich text editors out there you could use as an alternative.

    Even coding this type of 1 dimensional CMS from scratch would be lucky to take 1.5 hours, but using a prebuilt 'just add water' structure takes about 30-40 minutes to implement each time. Most of the development budget is spent on the design, layout & IA.

    Sometimes we don't even tell the client their site is databased. They don't care.

    But if we do (which is usual) they have all the flexibilty of Contribute, plus an automatically generated index page, a new listing on the coverpage (if appropriate) and an updated sitemap.

    If they wanted to, they could add a new press release to their site every single day for two years straight and their content will still be nicely filed and managable rather than a shmozzle of loose, unrelated, non-standardized documents.

    The clients don't need to be at the one particular PC with Contribute installed to make their changes. They don't need to pay for a second license so the receptionist and the office manager can both update the site. They don't even need to be in the building.

    This isn't about overkill technology for it's own sake. It's simply a better, cheaper way from day 1, and it scales and grows elegantly if needs be. The technology is free and the coding is minimal.

    And of course $99 buys more beer and peanuts for me.
    Alex Walker
    SitePoint Developer
    SitePoint - Learnable

  11. #11
    Yugo full of anvils bronze trophy hillsy's Avatar
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    I think one aspect people are overlooking (as usual on Sitepoint ) is intranets. Contribute plays very well in this area, not only because it decentralises maintenance, but also because it allows people to "own" their own content.

    Sure you can do this with a database as well, but a common characteristic on a lot of intranets is that they're not designed properly from the ground up. The utopian ideal of "doing it right first time" often doesn't apply. They tend to grow organically to include a lot of static content etc.

    Now with Contribute, if I want to delegate out content maintenance on some dusty and badly-maintained corner of the intranet, all I have to do is install it on a user's PC. Much, much quicker than rebuilding everything on a DB backend.
    that's me!
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  12. #12
    SitePoint Wizard Crowe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hillsy
    I think one aspect people are overlooking (as usual on Sitepoint ) is intranets. Contribute plays very well in this area, not only because it decentralises maintenance, but also because it allows people to "own" their own content.

    Sure you can do this with a database as well, but a common characteristic on a lot of intranets is that they're not designed properly from the ground up. The utopian ideal of "doing it right first time" often doesn't apply. They tend to grow organically to include a lot of static content etc.

    Now with Contribute, if I want to delegate out content maintenance on some dusty and badly-maintained corner of the intranet, all I have to do is install it on a user's PC. Much, much quicker than rebuilding everything on a DB backend.

    I have to disagree here. There are six departments here with at least 2 people per derpartment who need access to update our intranet. This product is very unusable for most companies Intranets. It would cost us $1200 to get enough copies of Contribute just to update our intranet.

    On the flip side, we used a free blogging tool and it cost us 1 hour of design and 1 hour of install/tweaking to our needs and we are all done. Two years later, not a single dime spent on it.

    I still feel Contribute has a place though. I imagine it's use for someone who bought a template and is the sole maintainer of the site. He has a few info pages and maybe some simple product links. Nothing big, but a person with little web know-how could run a decent business with this tool.
    Chrispian H. Burks
    Nothing To Say

  13. #13
    Yugo full of anvils bronze trophy hillsy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crowe
    There are six departments here with at least 2 people per derpartment who need access to update our intranet. This product is very unusable for most companies Intranets. It would cost us $1200 to get enough copies of Contribute just to update our intranet.

    On the flip side, we used a free blogging tool and it cost us 1 hour of design and 1 hour of install/tweaking to our needs and we are all done. Two years later, not a single dime spent on it.
    ~10,000 employees here. Dunno how many departments

    I'm not saying that Contribute is a good end-to-end intranet management tool. It's blatantly not, and not just because of the cost. The fact it doesn't do proper content management is also a killer.

    Where it is very good is when some middle manager two years ago decided to put up a website and now all of a sudden the content's out of date. Happens all the time in big, distributed organisations unless you've got very tight intranet policies and controls (which we don't, but that's another story...) Anyway, IT don't have the bandwidth to fix the problem, and content's not our job besides.

    Roll out a copy of Contribute, problem solved - for a while anyway...

    There's two ways to do an intranet, top-down and bottom-up. Bottom-up (building it properly to begin with e.g. using a blogging tool) is definitely better, but top-down is often what actually happens. I generally blame managers with too much authority and too few clues

    We tend to do a mixture of both, and Contribute solves a lot of problems inherent in the top-down approach, for a fairly notional cost. I guess that maybe makes it a good problem-solving or leak-plugging tool, rather than a good tool in general. But it works for us and it's better than letting them use FrontPage.
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