Developer

First Look: Macromedia's Contribute 3

Macromedia's Contribute 3 is an easy-to-use Web publishing program designed to make editing a Web site as easy as using a word processor. Check out the Builder AU First Look.

Macromedia's Contribute 3 is an easy to use Web publishing program designed to make editing a Web site as easy as using a word processor. Check out the Builder AU First Look.

Updating Web sites with simple tools for end-users is a lucrative market for both the enterprise and small businesses with dynamic Web sites and intranets. Contribute 3 steps up to the mark with this release and will appeal to a wider audience than before.

Since Macromedia's flagship Web development tool, Dreamweaver, hit the market the product has continually become more complex to use. For developers wanting to make interactive Web sites and intranets Dreameaver loyalists have grown their Web development skills with the product.

However, as Dreamweaver's complexity and features grew, the product isolated designers and everyday users. Contribute 3 helps fill this gap to users who just want to update simple features on both a complex company Web site or Intranet or set up a simple, small and static Web site without the worry of hand coding.

Users who have tried using Contribute from previous releases and were disappointed should definitely give this product another chance. Macromedia have obviously gone back to the drawing board with a host of new features for both the big and small end of town.


Figure 1: The Contribute 3 interface

At the low end of the spectrum Contribute 3 has a few nice features that will appeal to Web designers and beginners who just want to set up an easy to use static Web site.

  1. Contribute 3 comes with a built in image editor, based on the Technology found in Macromedia's Web editing tool, Fireworks.
  2. The CSS rendering found in Dreamweaver MX 2004 is now built into Contribute 3, making CSS editing easier than before for contribute users.
  3. Enhanced FlashPaper technology to share printable documents easily on a Web site without using the difficult PDF Format for the Web.
  4. Ready-to-go templates to help design simple Web sites from scratch.

For larger users who need to update an enterprise Web site or company Intranet, Contribute 3 includes a new addition called Contribute Publishing Services. This new add-on includes a server module for centrally controlling site connections.

For example, End-users who need to update a large company site can now be validated against enterprise directories like Active Directory or LDAP giving users specific access to certain parts of their site determined by an administrator.

The flexibility of Contribute Publishing Services is a bonus as the server application runs on Windows, UNIX, and Linux Servers and on J2EE application environments.

This now makes Contribute a real option to large scale sites in the enterprise as opposed to previous releases.

Unfortunately, there is no native support to import/export HTML or other code into or from Contribute 3—end-users are stuck with a WYSIWYG interface. We found this exclusion to be our biggest gripe during our first look review as some find hand coding HTML or other custom tweaks easier than using the WYSIWYG interface.

Mac users have not been forgotten with this release as Macromedia now have native support for the Safari Web browser, QuickTime movie files, FlashPaper and WebDav to the .mac service.

Overall, Contribute 3 is a welcome upgrade from previous versions and will make sense for many developers to give this product to end-users to upgrade their Web site or company intranet. Stay tuned for our full review of Contribute 3 and the full Macromedia Web Publishing System.

Contribute 3
Company: Macromedia
Price: Download from Macromedia's store: AU$250 Retail: AU$275

Contribute 3 System Requirements:
Windows ®
300 MHz Intel® Pentium® II processor or equivalent
Windows® 98 SE, Windows 2000, or Windows XP
Internet Explorer 5.0 or compatible
128 MB RAM
120 MB available disk space
Macintosh ®
300 MHz PowerPC® G3 processor
Mac® OS 10.2.8 and later, or 10.3.4
128 MB RAM
120 MB available disk space This product must be activated over the Internet or phone prior to use.

On the Web: http://www.macromedia.com/software/contribute/

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