WEBfast Main Functionalities

1. Content creation

Main features include:

  • Seamless and poweful integrated authoring environment with a Word like interface. Ensures that authors have easy access to the full range of features provided by the CMS.
  • Separation of content and presentation. Authoring is style-based, with all formatting applied during publishing.
  • Multi-user authoring. The CMS has many simultaneous users and record locking is provided for version2.
  • Single-sourcing (content re-use). A single page (or even paragraph) will often be used in different contexts, or delivered to different user groups.
  • Metadata creation. Capturing metadata (creator, subject, IP, action, etc) is critical when managing a large content repository.
  • Powerful linking
  • Non-technical authoring. Authors must not know HTML (or other technical knowledge) when creating pages.
  • Ease of use & efficiency. For a CMS to be successful, it must be easy to create and maintain content.

2. Content management

The core of most CMS solutions is a central repository, supported by a range of tools for manipulating and managing the content.

WEBfast uses a combination of MySQL open-source database and HD User Files.

Key features include:

  • Version control & archiving. Strict file version control is maintained for legal accountability, backup and disaster recovery. A simple but powerful interface is  provided for these features.
  • Workflow. Decentralised content creation relies  on a powerful permissions based workflow model, that can be easily customised, and is resilient against organisational change.
  • Security. Linux like, fine grained security levels and audit trails are in place to protect the integrity of the content.

3. Publishing

The publishing engine takes the content stored in the repository, and dynamically generates the final pages.

Key features include:

  • Stylesheets. Final appearance is controlled through the use of stylesheets. This provides flexibility and expandability. University CSS  are used.
  • Page template. Overall page layout is specified via page templates. A non-technical interface, based on re-usable objects is provided for managing this.
  • Extensibility. WEBfast easily  integrates code “snippets” (or equivalent) to provide additional publishing functionality. The CMS fully integrates with php& database driven uos web-systems used in the school.
  • Support for multiple format. For now the CMS publishes to multiple formats, such as: HTML (web) and printed. It should be possible to add support for additional formats, if  necessary, as new standards evolve. In order to achieve high-quality in every format, it is critical that the content be separated from presentation at the time of authoring. This allows distinct stylesheets to be used for each output.
  • Usage statistics. The CMS allows usage statistics to be gathered, via google analytics embedded in the templates. This information allows the site to be tracked, and any usability issues identified.

4. Presentation

Key features include:

  • Usability. This covers aspects such as ease of use, learnability and efficiency. The enterprise template and bnavigation is used by the system.
  • Accessibility. The CMS conforms to standards such as the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).
  • Cross browser support. The pages are  viewable in all major web browsers (Firefox, Internet Explorer, Netscape,  etc).
  • Not Limited client-side functionality. No specific  client-side technologies (Java, JavaScript, Flash, etc) are required to view the site.
  • Speed. Pages of normal size have load times acceptable for users of LAN, modem, cable, etc .
  • Valid HTML. All pages conform to the current HTML specification. This ensures maximum compatibility across browsers and platforms.
  • Effective navigation. Users are  provided with consistent, comprehensive and usable navigation aids, identical to the one used by the university website.
  • Integration with external systems. At present the  CMS integrates  Faculty and School systems based on php/MySQL.
  • Reporting/Notificatons. The CMS provides an extensive range of reports/notifications, for both users and administrators. The system pro-actively report on any issues that arise.

5. Documentation & training

Key features include:

  • Training. User and Administrator Manuals are provided, online on the CMS site, and under the admin interface. Training materials that exist for the CMS, and the induction services  provided are listed on the WEBfast site. An induction session for a first time user takes between 10-30 minutes.
  • Documentation. The CMS is supported by adequate documentation: for users, administrators and developers.
  • Maintenance agreements. The CMS is upgraded with latest enterprise template systems and HTML editors.
  • Resources required. The CMS has been tested on
    • Linux/Sun Solaris Unix/Windows with
    • Apache1/2 + PHP4/5 + MySQL3/4/5
  • Skills required. The skills and knowledge  required within an organisation to customise and maintain the CMS: system running PHP enabled Apache and MySQL database, PHP for template integration, MySQL database and user creation, user level linux/windows.
  • Reference sites.The software has been successfully implemented on a few servers running linux, solaris9, and windows server: ee, eelab, eng, weg.ee, carlab.ee domains.