Macromedia Contribute

Macromedia has announced Contribute, which they look to be positioning as an editor for the mases. Everyone who has attempted to architect a client editable web page runs in to this problem early on. Either you just have them put in raw text, and maybe do a little fancy formatting to make it readable, or you invent your own “simplified” markup language, like many bulletin boards offer, or finally you just try and teach them HTML and hope that a missing end tag doesn’t turn your entire design into a link, or some other catastrophe. Taking a more robust approach to this problem are the editors which take HTML in a text field and put a WYSIWYG editor on top of this. Internet Exploder has a version of this integrated, but it gives such ugly code that it has been known to break mirrors. Mozilla (the meat behind the new Netscape) has a much more promising version which generates better code, but still has a lot of bugs to be worked out; I know because this is the solution I used for a recent client. There are also products like Editize which are quite nice.

It looks like Macromedia is trying to target the medium to large website developers who are tired of doing trivial updates and the managers who don’t want to go through said developers whenever they want to change text of some sort. Let’s say that this is implemented throughout an entire company, is that a good thing? I would say that just because everyone can have a voice on the company website, doesn’t mean they should. Also I’m suspicious of any product that says it’s “easy as Word.” The pricing point of this product and more importantly how it interfaces with the server will ultimately tell if this product is going to be the next big thing, a product as big as its vision.