Web Content Managament in Office 2007

October 19, 2006

The Microsoft strategy for publishing content on the Web has been, until recently, based on Microsoft Content Management Server (CMS) 2002. CMS provided a structured way for content authors to add content to a company’s public Web site using professionally formatted layout pages. CMS also provided a formalized scheme where a privileged user must approve any page modification before it can be seen by the Web site’s visitors. While there is a connector that provides a certain degree of integration between CMS 2002 and SPS 2003, these two products are built on very different architectures, and you cannot build a site that fully benefits from both the CMS Web content management features and the SPS portal features.With the introduction of MOSS 2007, Microsoft recommends migrating CMS-based Web content management to MOSS. This will obviously have a significant impact on customers who have already become familiar with CMS development. If you have worked with CMS in the past, it’s important to note that the CMS concepts of channels and postings are not used in the MOSS 2007 Web content management infrastructure. Instead, the infrastructure has been designed using basic WSS 3.0 building blocks such as child sites, page templates, content types, document libraries, and security groups. This approach lends itself to building custom solutions that extend the basic Web content management infrastructure by using standard WSS components such as custom event handlers and workflows.

When you need to brand a MOSS 2007 portal site, you can modify a single ASP.NET Master Page to customize the appearance of the entire Web site just as you would in a standard WSS 3.0 site collection. However, MOSS 2007 extends this functionality by introducing a publishing scheme based on page layouts. A page layout provides a structured approach to collecting content from content authors and displaying it on a page within a portal site. Some of the page layouts provided by MOSS 2007 include welcome pages, articles, and news items. Page layouts are designed to make it fairly straightforward to add and modify content from within the browser. MOSS 2007 alos provides a toolbar within the browser to give content authors and approvers a convenient way to move content pages through the editing and approval processes.

Each page layout is based on a WSS content type and an associated .aspx page template. By layering page layouts on top of content types, MOSS makes it possible to add custom fields for storing different types of structured content such as HTML, links, and images. Once a custom field is defined inside the content type associated with a page layout, it can be data bound to the associated .aspx page template using another new MOSS 2007 component known as a field control. MOSS 2007 ships with several field controls such as a rich HTML editor as well as others for editing custom fields based on images and links. Many field controls support adding extra declarative constraints to keep portal content within a highly structured format.Note that the page layout infrastructure is extensible because WSS content types support inheritance. It’s fairly straightforward to take one of the built-in page layouts and customize it by extending its underlying content type or .aspx page template.In addition to field controls, an .aspx page template for a page layout can also contain ASP.NET server controls and Web Part zones. A page layout with Web Part zones provides the content author with the flexibility to add Web Parts displaying content outside the schema of the current page layout. MOSS 2007 provides several Web Parts that have been designed for use in portal pages including the Table of Contents Web Part and the Content Query Web Part.The .aspx page templates associated with page layouts are stored along with the portal site’s Master Page in the master page gallery. The master page gallery also contains a metadata column to associate each .aspx page template with a content type. Note that it is possible to have multiple page layouts, each with its own .aspx page template, that are all associated with the same content type. This is useful when you want to create several different views for the same set of structured content.Whenever a content author creates a new content page from a page layout, MOSS 2007 creates a new instance of the associated content type and stores it in a document library named Pages. When a content author updates content for custom fields within a page layout, WSS stores the data within a structure defined by the underlying content type. The fact that content page instances are stored in a WSS document library means that the MOSS Web content management infrastructure can take advantage of basic document library features such as versioning, auditing, approval, workflows, per-document security configuration and security UI trimming.By default, MOSS uses the basic document approval features of a WSS document library to control when the updated content is shown to the site’s visitors. However, the infrastructure was designed to make it straightforward to associate custom workflows with the Pages document library for scenarios where you need something more sophisticated than the default content approval functionality.Note that an instance of a content page stored in the document library does not represent a copy of the page template. Instead, it contains redirection logic to link it with the .aspx page template at run time. That means updating the .aspx page template will always affect content pages that have already been created from the associated page layout.A number of other MOSS 2007 features focus on Web content management. MOSS provides a framework for document converters, components designed to read content from an external format such as a Word document and convert it into a format that can be displayed within a content page. Several document converters are scheduled to ship with MOSS 2007, as well as a framework for building and integrating custom document converters.MOSS provides content deployment features that allow you to transfer content from one site collection to another. This is valuable for companies that prefer to author content in a staging environment before moving it into their production environment. You take advantage of MOSS 2007 content deployment features by configuring paths and jobs. A path defines one site collection as a content source and another site collection as a content destination. Once you have defined a path, you can define one or more jobs to move content from the source to the destination. Jobs can be run on demand or they can be scheduled to run at a future time or on a periodic basis.MOSS 2007 also supports a feature known as site variations for companies that need to duplicate a site’s content for translation into multiple spoken languages or for targeting different types of rendering devices. For example, imagine you have configured variation support for German, French, and Spanish. MOSS 2007 maintains a parallel structure across these three different sites with respect to pages and child sites. When a content author adds a new page to the master variation site maintained in Spanish, MOSS automatically adds the same page into the structure of the other sites as well. MOSS can also be configured to create a WSS task marking the required translation as a to-do item for a language translator. While MOSS 2007 will not actually convert your content from one language to another, it does keep multiple sites in sync with respect to their content structure, which provides a good deal of value.Finally, it’s important to note that MOSS 2007 publishing sites benefit from WSS 3.0 security advancements. In particular, WSS 3.0 is built on top of the ASP.NET 2.0 authentication provider infrastructure. Unlike SPS 2003, which is tightly coupled to Active Directory, you can configure a MOSS 2007 portal site to use forms-based authentication. That means you can store the user credentials in a SQL Server database or another LDAP identity management system of your choosing. 

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One Response to “Web Content Managament in Office 2007”

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