Easy Web Content Management with XMLcmNOW (1/2) - exploring XML
Easy Web Content Management with XMLcmNOW
Using XSLT to produce HTML pages becomes more and more popular. In our last column we examined an approach that dynamically generates content out of a servlet engine. Many Web sites still only serve static pages that have been uploaded through FTP, though. With the subsequently introduced XMLcmNOW, XSLT can be used in such an environment, too.
XMLcmNOW is a content management system based on XML and XSLT technology. It makes maintaining Web pages easy, simplifying the mundane tasks like editing HTML and uploading via FTP. All that is needed is to enter the homepage-address, edit the contents in XML and enter the FTP-Password to send back the changes.
The client-side XMLcmNOW software picks up information from the Web server, loads the XML into an editor, generates the HTML pages with XSLT, and sends everything back. Therefore no special server-side software is required - just direct HTTP- and FTP-Access.
All the usernames, servernames, filenames, and the like are defined by the Web designer in a little 'site-configuration-file' which resides on the Web-space.
One of the problems in Web design is keeping Web pages up-to-date. Especially if you don't want to call and pay your Web designer for every little change. You could - for example - use a WYSIWYG editor, or purchase a database based content-management system.
- WYSIWYG editors usually don't produce clean HTML - if you are unexperienced with them (and HTML) they let Web pages look untidy. You end up fiddling about with layout-problems (like tables, fonts), but all you wanted to do is edit the content of your pages.
- Database based systems are expensive - layout changes are difficult. They usually need a lot of programming to be done. Therefore they only pay off for big projects.
XML/XSL technology separates contents and layout. This gives the advantage of 'division of labour' between keeping content up to date and Web design. Compared to programming database based systems the cost of writing XSL files is quite low. Depicting the content generation process in an XML/XSL based system:
At the moment the trouble with XML/XSL is the requirement of special server-side software or of special Web browsers. To manage this, the content-management-software offered here, pre-transforms XML/XSL to HTML and then sends it to the Web server. The program gives you the opportunity to use XML/XSL-technology NOW - you don't have to wait for Internet service providers to update their Web servers with XSLT-Software.
Produced by Michael Claßen
Created: Oct 01, 2001
Revised: Oct 01, 2001