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Macromedia Contribute has finally been released for Macintosh users. A browser-based product until now only available for windows users, it allows those not familiar with HTML code to contribute to the upkeep and updating of content on a Web site - much like a dynamically generated database content management system would allow.
Database content can still be used in conjunction with Contribute. Aimed mainly at small businesses without extensive content-management systems or teams of Web designers in place, Contribute gives some autonomous control back to the owner of the Web site.
Contribute 2 runs on Mac OS X. Using an embedded version of Web browser Opera for the user interface it simulates a Web site’s content within the interface, allowing you to change wording, images and a certain amount of page layout and text styles.
Based on Dreamweaver’s templates feature, the Web designer or webmaster can lock-down certain areas and dimensions for images allowing a non Web designer access to safely change certain content on the pages within the excitable regions of the template - freeing the HTML coders up to concentrate on other things.
New templates can be downloaded via Contribute, and file lists can be seen and previewed through the interface. The interface works like a limited version of the Dreamweaver MX layout mode, which is an ideal production method for company Web sites that need multiple daily updates.
Contribute for Mac OS X can be set-up to work with any existing Web site. It will also work with your .Mac account. You can connect to your Web server via FTP, LAN, or SFTP. A Connection Wizard takes you through the process step by step to connect to the Web site and download the files your administrator has made available to you.
If the person acting as the content updater also has Macromedia Fireworks MX they can also automatically launch a Web image into Fireworks to be edited to the correct size. Maximum limits on image file size can be set for the Web pages by the administrator.
Other admin rules can be preset too. Certain behaviours used in the text layout, such as how many spaces hitting the space bar creates or the number of lines the return key will drop to cursor down. Needless to say, Word and Excel documents can be incorporated.
The Contribute end-user’s control over a site is limited by the administrator. But if given access they can alter the style, height and colour of text as well as add links to pictures and text, increase the cells and rows of tables, sort and format table data, and add dates, anchors and drag-&-drop links. Even if they then publish the page and realise a terrible mistake has been made, the roll-back feature quickly allows the duff page to be returned to its former state. Roll-back pages can be set to remember a certain number of levels or former states by the administrator. This could be a problem in a large company, as it takes the changes on trust and publishes direct to the live Web site. An email approval system is available, however, to encourage comments and approval from co-workers.
Restriction on deleting pages can also be set by the administrator. There is a check-in/check-out feature that prevents multiple content updaters from overwriting their colleagues work by mistake.
Paypal e-commerce merchant tools have also been included in the package. This will allow any small business owner to accept credit-card payment online.
At this price, Contribute 2 is the perfect solution for many companies to keep their Web site content right up to date regardless of whether their staff know HTML for not.