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4th European RedDot Usergroup Conference Review – Part 1

Paul and I attended the 4th European RedDot Usergroup Conference on Tuesday May 19th 2009, held at the National Archives, London. This was my first time at a RedDot Usergroup conference – so my aim was to get a feel for the RedDot Usergroup, learn a few things and contribute where I could. The RedDot Usergroup is a non-profit organisation, so the conference was no free lunch. Which means evaluating the value for money for the conference and also whether to join up for an annual membership.

Disclaimer: I am a contract Management Server (nee RedDot CMS) / web developer currently working for the Legal Services Commission in London. However, I was at the conference on my own time and dime. I also blog for the Unofficial RedDot CMS Blog, for whom I gave a promotional presentation, and volunteer at Friends of the Earth, UK. However, all my views are my own and in no way represent the views of any of my affiliations, except by coincidence or accident :)


The conference got off to a bit of a late start, what with some of the organisers, Open Text, partners and clients flying in from Germany. Of course it was someone from the UK that was truly late – London traffic and all. The welcome included a brief introduction to the RedDot Usergroup as well as current activities. Apparently a name change to the Web Solutions Usergroup is being investigated.

Unofficial RedDot CMS Blog

This was an awesome and thankfully very short presentation given by yours truly. I can’t take credit for the powerpoint presentation – that was all Frederic’s work – but the spoken content was all me, for better or worse. Contrary to popular opinion at the conference, its not *my* blog – I am merely one of the eight contributing authors. Perhaps if the stats rise significantly due to my presentation I might be able to join the coveted inner circle :)

Open Text Artesia Digital Asset Management

This was my first look at Artesia, having missed the presentations at the Open Text Content Day UK. Or maybe I should rephrase that as my first glimpse. One of the issues I have with a lot of vendor and partner presentations is that from a technical point of view, the content is minimal. Between the marketing spiel and the high level nature of the presentations – well maybe I am just not the right audience. The reality for me is the coal face of actually making things work in real life. Still, there were a couple of interesting points to come out of this. With the current move away from documents towards video I have to agree with the presenter that it is a bit unfortunate that Open Text has the word text in its name. Perhaps Open Video or Open Media would be more appropriate looking forward? Oh, and general consensus amongst clients was that no one was happy with the inbuilt Asset Manager in Management Server :)

Coffee Break

Had a great conversation with Ulrich Weiss about performance issues with Navigation Manager and 700+ instances of the master page templates – before I realised he is on the RDUG management board and also an accomplished RedDot developer at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology – as would be proven in a later session.

Roadmap and Version 10 Preview / Live Demo

After another lengthy marketing spiel (including slides from the Open Text Content Day UK and the previous Artesia presentation – well I can’t say Open Text don’t know a thing or two about content reuse!) and some buzzword bingo worthy rhetoric (We care, provide a compelling user experience, agility and innovation) – finally got some information on the roadmap and my first view of version 10 – mostly in Powerpoint slides, but with some live demo.

Nothing is final with dates, but we can apparently expect version 10 to drop in June 2009 (hey – that’s now!), with a smaller service pack or upgrade codenamed “Falcon” in December 2009. The next major version after that (codenamed “Orca” – not a good sign) is scheduled for April 2010, and is likely to be a major update of the backend to .Net.

Version 10 would seem to include a new version of the PageBuilder written in .Net, which supposedly could increase PageBuilder performance by up to 70% (depending on project implementation / complexity) and an overhaul to the SmartEdit interface – slicker, with drag and drop. The PageBuilder enhancements also have multi-processor support – which should allow publishing and editing at the same time – yay! It will also be released as an upgrade to version 9 separate from version 10.

The new SmartEdit will work across Firefox, Safari and Chrome (and IE of course!). SmartTree is planned for all four browsers, but it is not certain yet (it may contain an IE only tree). The clipboard comes to the new version of SmartEdit, as well as a read only Navigation Manager tree to help navigate the site, drag and drop content classes, a right mouse button menu to replace the Action Menu and a number of other common information / actions are promoted in the interface – project switching, views (SmartEdit, redlining – though still no structural redlining, form view, preview and Delivery Server preview – though no preview by date – you will have to do that the old fashioned way for now) and the current page identifier.

Search and tasks have been improved. You can now access recent searches and also save customised searches for later. The results may be grouped by your choice of search criteria. The excessive clicks, pages and popups required for tasks has been simplified – replaced with a new home page, fully customisable iGoogle style with “widgets”. For example, a custom search showing recently modified content. Presentation can be customised by group, but you can still only see information relating to the current project.

Last bits – should support 64 bit, should run on VMWare, while RQL should still be supported you will need to test as their is no 100% guarantee. There are no changes to SmartTree.

Discussion centred around the upgrade from 9 to 10 – basically play it safe – ideally upgrade on a separate box and migrate across (with all the fun that this entails). If there are going to be upgrade problems, this is going to be it. Of course, you always have the option of staying on 9 and upgrading the PageBuilder only – which should garner significant performance improvements by itself. Also – no date on version 10 service pack 2 (the first “usable” version, as one of the members joked).

My thoughts? It looks promising – but the proof will be on the ground in real projects, not in presentational demos. It has certainly been a long time coming. While I think most of the interface improvements will be for the better (and remove some RQL plugin requirements) the question is – is it enough? That will become even more pertinent if the upgrade process turns into a nightmare. I will add one personal note on the user interface – the drag and drop content classes. From the demonstration (which wasn’t perfect) – you can drag the content class from a pop out menu on the right. Apparently this will only show those content classes that are available on the page. The red dots you can place that content class on will remain red (others will be greyed out). Does this seem backwards to anyone? Wouldn’t it be better to present the available content classes from a context menu on the red dot itself? Also, there doesn’t appear to be any visual representation of content classes – which would have been a nice addition too.

I still have plenty more to cover, but that is a post for another time (soon!). On Wednesday I am off to the UK Web Solutions Community Day 2009 in Reading – which should hopefully shed some more light on version 10.

Until next time,

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About the author:

Adrian Mateljan Adrian Mateljan lives in Reading, United Kingdom but is actually an Australian hailing from Perth, Western Australia. Currently contracting in London specialising in RedDot CMS.


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