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Customers have made it clear that content-management software is too complicated, and vendors continue responding with what they hope are easier-to-use products. Major releases from Percussion Software Inc. and Merant Inc. promise more relief for IT staffs and more empowerment for content owners.
Among the improvements to Percussion's Rhythmyx software is a simplified interface designed to let nontechnical users more easily locate content and move it through a workflow. John Summers, manager of E-business for building materials maker Armstrong Worldwide Industries Inc., is looking to Rhythmyx 5 to let users work with it more effectively. Summers says that while he has fielded some complaints from employees about Rhythmyx's previous interface, "it's the people you don't hear from who are having problems who are the most dangerous, because they simply don't use the tool."
Armstrong also is rolling out 35 new Latin American Web sites in early May using Rhythmyx's multilingual support, and Summers wants to use the expanded multilingual capabilities of the new release to launch sites in several Chinese dialects. Ease of use for overseas content owners is crucial, he says, because it will reduce maintenance time.
Meanwhile, Jennifer Elrod, intranet Webmaster for AM General Corp., maker of Humvee military and consumer vehicles, is looking forward to the ability of Merant's Collage 4 to automatically convert Office documents into PDFs, a process that will come in handy in preventing unauthorized changes to the numerous procedural documents that the company posts. Elrod also says Collage's new compatibility with Oracle databases will make it easier to publish database-driven apps. Those apps can be built using an integration tool with Macromedia Inc.'s Dreamweaver, a feature of the new Collage that was a nice surprise that Elrod didn't discover until she tested the product.
The new version of Collage, due next month, starts at $50,000 for a license supporting one server and five users. Rhythmyx, shipping March 31, averages $250,000 for an enterprise content-management deployment.