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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

About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.

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