Tuesday, October 6, 2009

RSuite User Conference - 10/6/2009

I'm attending the 3rd RSuite users conference in Philly today, by invitation of Really Strategies' Lisa Bos. I've been tracking RSuite since its inception a few years ago - the idea of a decent CMS based on Marklogic always hit me as a good niche product and by all indicators, RSuite is a success, especially in light of how many CMS offerings there are in the world.

I'm here for the technical track - to learn more about how to write customizations for RSuite - I'm a developer afterall. But the Keynote from Howard Ratner (CTO, Nature) is an excellent intro to what comes after CMS.

Nature is using RSuite as an integration tool between various pub tools and the Marklogic content repository. In the Keynote, Howard makes excellent points about the need for content classification, which (of course) is why I'm writing about it! Nature is using a mixture of automated content recognition tools and editorial tools. Also mentioned open search technology - search widgets that create a viral access to the Nature content. One very interesting thing Howard talks about it the "Work Arounds" that are developed because either the content or the technologies don't do the exact job needed. What is the cost of these?

Lisa Bos then gave us a demo of the current version of RSuite. Nice clean and simple to use browser-based GUI. New features include Digital Asset Management, Workflow Configuration, editing (in oXygen and XOpus - one of my fav XML editors). But, IMHO, where's the beef? What does this have that free/open-source solutions (like Alfresco and/or eXist) don't? Or, for that matter, our own Tractare? Other new features - search enhancements, reporting, GUI customizations, better API and the ever needed performance improvements.


Lisa B said...

Glad you made it, Steve. I'm guessing the rest of the day is answering the where's the beef question for you, but a couple top of mind answers:

- Component (XML element) level management (metadata, locking, versioning, editing, etc) through configuration, without shredding (nothing close in Alfresco)

- The integrated jBPM workflow engine with a bunch of useful action handlers (configurable automation capabilities for things that matter to publishers, like Schematron processing) and workflow design UI (unlike Alfresco, which uses jBPM, but requires you to know jBPM in a serious way)

- An XQuery repository (MarkLogic) as the primary CMS repository (not so for Alfresco), and with enterprise performance against large data sets (eXist isn't there yet)

- A user interace and extensive API with *CMS* features (as opposed to repository features, like you might get with eXist)

There's more, but these come to mind first. BTW, this is a really good question - this space is full of commercial and open source products, and it can be hard to distinguish among them. We love both Alfresco (it is the underlying system for our DocZone platform, which doesn't require the same kind of XML capabilities that RSuite customers need) and eXist. But eXist isn't a CMS, and Alfresco isn't an XML-aware CMS, so the comparison isn't exact.

I don't know about Tractare yet, but it sounds pretty cool. I suspect some of the points I made about Alfresco apply there also, but that's just a guess. I'm sure there are applications where RSuite would be overkill and Tractare would be a better fit. Maybe you can fill me in at the break. ;)