Charged with the task of maintaining several growing and constantly changing Macintosh news sites, the online production team at Mac Publishing turned to Userland Software and Frontier to automate their daily production process.
Some of their goals for this automated workflow:
Jeff Cheney On Using Frontier:
Jeff Cheney is the Content Engineer for Online Production at Mac Publishing. He talked about why Mac Publishing chose Frontier:
"More than anything it was the promise that we could build and maintain a system to allow our editors, most of whom have little or no knowledge of HTML, to submit stories as plain text files and have those stories automatically rendered as HTML. Moreover, this same system promises to allow our editors to make corrections to stories which have already been posted. Meanwhile the headlines and subheads for each story are automatically added to our home pages and appropriate sub-indexes. And most importantly, the system promises to give our editors the ability to easily rearrange the order of stories on our home pages, including links across different sites.
"Another factor was the promise of a better search engine. Because Frontier allows us to separate our content from our site structure, it can also offer us better indexing, based on our content, and not on our structure.
"And because of Frontier's flexibility we're investigating using it for other tasks as well, such as managing user registration, message boards, and mailing lists. I don't know of any other system which even attempts to encompass all of these tasks. There are few limits to what Frontier can do."
Phil Suh On Building the Macweek Site:
"The Macweek site builds on some of Frontier's powerful content management tools: ContentServer, the website framework, and WebEdit. All three of these were modified and extended for the Macweek site, demonstrating Frontier's enormous flexiblity to fit into an existing workflow.
"The production server is set up to import stories into the website via ContentServer. Macweek.com makes use of every inch of ContentServer's generous customization features. For example, files droped into the Macweek folder get automatically imported to a table in Frontier based on the date of the file.
"One challenge in developing the Macweek.com site was dealing with a stage and a live server. I had to modify the renderer somewhat and write a filewriter called multiftp to allow output to different servers.
"Finally, I set up a client-side suite for the production and editorial staff to use. Basically a turbo-charged version of WebEdit, the client allows integration with the tools that the online staff uses daily: BBEdit and Netscape, via shared-menus. A story can be previewed in Netscape on the staging server, and without going to Frontier can be pushed over to the live server. Commands available from inside Frontier include checking stories in and out, modifying the homepage's headlines, and publishing. The server component allows many people to work on the same site at once, and provides logging and site admin features."
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