FrameMaker WebDAV Enhancements for CMS Integration
WebDAV is a standard protocol and is supported by most Content Management Systems (CMS). FrameMaker has built-in support for connecting to any WebDAV server and accessing files. It enables browsing the repository, selecting files and checking them out from the Server.
- When a file is managed by a WebDAV server, multiple users can download copies of the file, but only one user at a time can check out the file. The user who checks out the file can share his or her work with other users by updating the file on the server; however, other users can’t make changes to the managed file until it is checked in. This check out/check in system allows multiple users to access the same file but prevents users from overwriting each other’s work.
- Because WebDAV works over Web accessible networks, location doesn’t matter. Team members can share files regardless of their proximity.
Your local machine has a directory structure that mirrors the WebDAV server structure, so when you check out files, the files are downloaded to your machine and placed in the mirrored folder.
FrameMaker 8 has extended the WebDAV support to allow authoring and editing of XML files located on the server. In addition, FrameMaker 8 allows you to specify an HTTP path to import graphics into a document, either by copying or by reference. The HTTP path is preserved in the XML.
WebDAV provides a standard way of integrating with diverse Content Management Systems today. The other alternative is to build a custom integration with each of the CMS using the proprietary APIs by the CMS. A custom integration is not only expensive to build and maintain, but it also locks down customers to a particular version of a particular CMS. At the same time, WebDAV is a low level protocol (the least common denominator) and hence, to enable a seamless workflow, an authoring tool like FrameMaker needs to build logic to process the referenced files, related topics and so on. Overall, in my opinion, the benefits of using a standard based approach outweigh the custom integration using proprietary APIs.
In future, I see two pronged approach towards enhancing CMS integration with FrameMaker.
- Enabling HTTP path for all referenced files – By enabling an http path for all referenced files in a FrameMaker document, book or DITAMap, FrameMaker will provide a better experience for authors working directly from the CMS. For example, if you have a DITAMap open in FrameMaker and you double-click on the DITA Topic (which has an http path), FrameMaker will open the topic for you.
- Enabling WebDAV based access to browse the repository and explicitly check-out and check-in files from the Server. When a file is checked-out, FrameMaker will also bring the referenced files in read-only mode to provide a better authoring experience.
Please let me know your comments.