Content management system taps Domino, MS teamwork

Eric B. Parizo, Asst. News Editor

It is rare for Microsoft and Lotus tools to work together for a common goal. However, Domino Web developers will find sitegarden/xml promotes this unusual collaboration.

Developed by Melbourne, Australia's Touchdown Systems Design Ltd., sitegarden/xml is a browser-based, document-oriented content management system used to create Domino Web sites in a news, magazine, or informational format.

Andrew Stuart, Touchdown's managing director, said sitegarden/xml doesn't involve the use of a Notes interface. Those without Domino design experience can easily cut and paste text and upload images through the browser interface.

"The objective was to let people build document-oriented Web sites that are very similar to Gamespot or CNN at a very low cost and in a rapid time frame," said Stuart.

All of sitegarden/xml's output is in XML format, but it needs translating to HTML before it is ready for the Domino server.

"XML is a good way of transferring and formatting data, but on its own it looks extremely raw and doesn't do much. You need some way of taking that XML out of Domino and rendering it," said Stuart.

That's where Microsoft and Lotus work together.

The XML data is rendered by another Microsoft Internet Information Services-enabled Web server into HTML for browser clients to read off the Domino server.

"We found that it was impractical or extremely unwieldy for the Domino server to do everything, including the content management and the content presentation," Stuart said.

While it may seem unusual for a Domino server to hand off some of the work, Stuart offered an analogy.

"Domino is like an empty canvas. It doesn't provide an extensive content management system out of the box," he said. "It's a terrific system for building an Internet application, but it really does need a whole lot of software. You need to paint the picture of a development system on top of it."

Sitegarden/xml is geared toward those with and without extensive Domino Web development experience. Stuart believes inexperienced developers will enjoy being able to create a fully functional Web site within a few hours, while experienced programmers will like the luxury of sitegarden/xml's open-source program code.

"What I have found is people who are creating Lotus Domino sites are sort of reinventing the wheel," Stuart said. "They need to create a Web site, so they start writing the code themselves. Sitegarden/xml has an awful lot of functionality that they're unlikely to get through in-house development."

Stuart feels even though Lotus has done an amazing job keeping Notes and Domino relevant through the Internet evolution, being browser-based rather than client-based gives sitegarden/xml more functionality.

"I don't know if the Notes client will ever disappear, but I think we'll see a trend toward Domino applications that don't have a Notes interface. The trouble is... everyone's got a browser, not everyone's got a Notes client," said Stuart.

Sitegarden/xml requires Domino R5, Microsoft IIS Version 4, and Netscape or Internet Explorer version 3 or above. Individual programmers and Lotus business partners can download the program free from the Touchdown Web site, but when used in a commercial, military, government or education context it costs $1000 per database.

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