Monday, August 20, 2007
MOSS Web Content Management (WCM) Features
Before MOSS, Microsoft’s strategy for publishing content on the Web has been based on Microsoft Content Management Server 2002 (CMS). CMS provides a structured way for content authors to add content to a company’s public Web site using professionally formatted layout pages. CMS also provides a formalized scheme where a privileged user must approve any page modification before it can be seen by the Web site’s visitors. In the past, many Microsoft customers have had to choose between CMS and SharePoint Portal Server 2003. While Microsoft released a connector named SPARK that provides a certain degree of integration between CMS and SharePoint Portal Server 2003, these two products are built on very different architectures. This has resulted in frustration because you cannot build a site that fully benefits from both the CMS Web content management features and the SharePoint Portal Server 2003 portal features. Microsoft has decided to discontinue evolving CMS as a stand-alone product and to migrate CMS Web content management features and the CMS customer base over to MOSS. This new strategy allows you to mix Microsoft's best-of-breed WCM features with its portal features in any site within a MOSS farm. If you have worked with CMS in the past, it’s important to note that the CMS concepts of channels and postings are not used in the MOSS WCM infrastructure. Instead, this new WCM infrastructure has been designed using basic WSS 3.0 building blocks such as child sites, page templates, content types, document libraries, and security groups. This newer approach lends itself to building custom solutions that extend the basic MOSS WCM infrastructure using standard WSS components such as custom event handlers and workflows.
Since the WCM features of MOSS are built on top of WSS 3.0, you begin the process of branding a MOSS portal site by customizing master pages to get the basic look and feel you're after. However, MOSS WCM features go further than this by extending WSS with the introduction of a publishing scheme based on page layouts. A page layout provides a structured approach for collecting content from content authors and displaying it on a page within a portal site. Examples of some of the page layouts provided by MOSS out of the box include welcome pages, articles, and news items. Most companies adopting the MOSS WCM features will create their own customized page layouts as well. By default, MOSS WCM features use the basic document approval features of a WSS document library to control when the updated content is shown to the site’s visitors. However, the MOSS WCM infrastructure was designed to make it straightforward to associate custom workflows with the content associated with a page layout in scenarios where you need something more sophisticated than the functionality that comes out of the box. MOSS WCM features provide a framework for document converters. A document converter is a component designed to read content from an external format such as a Word document and convert it into a format that can be displayed within an MOSS content page. Several document converters will ship with MOSS as well as a framework for building and integrating custom document converters. MOSS also supports a WCM feature known as site variations for companies that need to duplicate a site’s content for translation into multiple spoken languages or for targeting different types of rendering devices. For example, imagine you have configured MOSS variation support for German and French in addition to Spanish. MOSS maintains a parallel structure across these three different sites with respect to pages and child sites. When a content author adds a new page to the master variation site maintained in Spanish, MOSS automatically adds the same page into the structure of the other sites as well. MOSS provides several caching options. While MOSS doesn’t allow you to use ASP.NET output caching directives the same way you do in a standard ASP.NET page, it provides a more sophisticated framework to reach the same end. You can enable MOSS output caching at the site collection scope. When using these caching features, you configure caching profiles to control caching page items and complete pages in memory. Developers should take note that MOSS supplies dedicated caches for navigation nodes and content returned from potentially expensive retrieval operations such as standard Windows SharePoint Services queries run using an SPQuery object and cross-site queries run using a SharePoint Portal Server SPSiteDataQuery object.