Web services invade content management
Web services as an integration technology is an established trend. Some
analysts predict that Web services will emerge as a strong B2B technology this
year. Next, said Ron Schmelzer, senior analyst at Waltham, Mass.-based ZapThink
LLC (http://www.zapthink.com), Web
services will become an important technology in content management systems.
Schmelzer said forward-thinking IT organizations are taking what they learned
about software components and Web services and applying it to the management of
enterprise content from technical documentation to marketing brochures.
''There are companies essentially saying, 'We can use Web services as a way to
describe content, publish it to a repository and allow people to dynamically
discover it,''' he explained.
For example, Schmelzer said production of a product manual could be broken
down into XML-tagged components consisting of a heading and body text describing
a part in a machine. Then that content component of the larger manual would be
placed in a WSDL wrapper, he said. The manual could then be assembled by using
Web services to query the database and pull together all the content components.
Or, if information on one part of the machine was needed, then Web services
could be used to retrieve that individual content.
''It's a very interesting idea because instead of having to invest in very
expensive content management, content repository software, [users] can use
regular Web services technology for content management,'' Schmelzer said.
Pointing out that this approach could dramatically lower the cost and
complexity of dealing with content, the analyst concluded: ''It poses some
serious questions for content management vendors.''
However, Schmelzer is quick to point out that most companies are not very far
along in using Web services for content management and that major vendors, such
as Interwoven and Vignette, can look at this trend as an opportunity. He
suggested that content management vendors might break the functionality of their
current products into services that would fit into this new way of creating and
publishing corporate documentation.
Further information about Schmelzer's report on XML Web services for the
content life cycle, including an executive summary, is available at http://www.zapthink.com/report.html?id=ZTR-CL100
Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.