There is no shortage of open-source content management systems used to run weblogs, wikis, and small Web sites.
But open source is still open source, and the Web content management field is a crowded one with products that run the full range of pricing and functionality.
The acceptance of Linux as a viable OS in the enterprise has opened some doors for open-source enterprise applications, and in the Web content management space there has been a decent amount of buzz surrounding Bricolage.
Bricolage 1.6, the new version of the software released last week, includes complete support for localization, with interface translations for users who do not speak English, and easier editing for documents and their fields.
Other improvements include greater flexibility for managing the URLs of documents published through Bricolage Output Channels; a new content editing interface, called “Super Bulk Edit, for editing the parts of a document element in one interface; and document distribution via WebDAV and Secure FTP.
Bricolage 1.6 introduces the ability to clone Bricolage documents. Clicking the “Clone” link for a story in “My Workspace” creates an exact copy of that story that can then be edited independently of the original. (Click for a larger image.)
David Wheeler is the original designer and developer of the Bricolage project, which was originally developed as a possible content management system for Salon.
Salon never used Bricolage, but it became available as an open-source system in September of 2001. Today, Bricolage is used to maintain Web sites for the World Health Organization and Macworld.com.
According to Wheeler, the improvements for version 1.6 all add up to a more natural editing process for users of Bricolage.
Much work was done to make the system faster as well. Almost all of the improvements are the result of Bricolage users addressing their organization’s needs.
“That’s the beauty of open source,” Wheeler said. “The new development tends to be driven by what people actually need.”
The Bricolage story profile is used by document editors to edit the content of their documents.
The document elements included in the “Content” section adhere to the rules defined by the document type created by administrators. (Click for a larger image.)
Wheeler himself has started a company called Kineticode to offer consulting and support services for Bricolage. But can an open-source system really gain the acceptance of the enterprise?
Matthew Berk, senior analyst for site technologies and operations at Jupiter Research, said Bricolage is one of the open-source projects that has proved to be a black eye for high-end content management vendors. (Jupiter Research is a division of Jupitermedia, the publisher of this Web site.)
“[Bricolage] is one of the first projects to claim that ‘Hey, this stuff that Vignette said is rocket science, isn’t,'” Berk said.
According to research done by Jupiter, eight out of 10 companies surveyed can meet their content management requirements with an open-source system.
The case against open source is that anyone can start a project, which means there are bound to be projects that are immature and unstable.
But, Berk said, with more than 200 vendors providing closed-source content management products, there are going to immature and unstable products there as well.
More open-source applications for enterprise tasks such as content management are likely on the way.
Berk said the first generation of content management applications needed more developers because they were basically building application servers.
But projects like Bricolage, which has a number of contributors but only three developers that work on it regularly, represent a new way of thinking about building software.
“It’s amazing what you can do with a couple of developers,” Berk said.
Bricolage 1.6 has “Super Bulk Edit,” , which adds the ability to edit all of the fields in an element in one place by using special tags starting with an equals sign to identify the type of field to which content belongs.
One field can be selected as the default, so that when there is no tag for a given chunk of content, it will be created as that field type.
In this example, the “Paragraph” field type has been select as the default, so that we only need to use tags for other fields (“=pull_quote” is the lone example in this screen shot). (Click for a larger image.)