The Barnes & Noble Review
Macromedia Contribute addresses today’s No. 1 web site management challenge: the problem of updating a site once you’ve published it.
You know the deal. Content owners constantly need to make updates. As they should. After all, the site’s visitors crave new and up-to-date information. But the site’s designers and developers don’t have time for an endless stream of updates. You can’t let the content owners touch your live pages: They’ll mess ’em up. So the changes go unmade, the site gets stale, and everyone gets frustrated.
With Contribute, the site’s designers maintain full control over look, feel, behavior, and security. But the subject matter experts get to change content, and add new content, to their heart’s content. It’s ye olde “best of both worlds.”
Lots of different folks need to learn about Contribute. Sure, there are the traditional web designers and administrators who already know Dreamweaver. But most Contribute users will be business professionals who don’t know HTML, don’t know web design, and don’t much care.
For one book to help all these people learn Contribute, it’ll need to be especially lucid. It should skip the lingo, speak to people in their own language, draw on their experiences as professionals and Web users. And it wouldn’t hurt to “show, not tell” -- relying on visuals wherever possible.
Doug Sahlin’s How to Do Everything with Macromedia Contribute meets all those criteria. Sahlin’s written extensively about Macromedia Web design software for both beginners and experienced professionals. He knows exactly what both groups are looking for.
Sahlin begins by outlining Contribute’s four-step approach to managing web content: setting up a connection; navigating to the page you want to edit; editing or creating pages; and publishing your revised content. You’ll learn how Contribute works with the designs you already have; and where your site administrator fits into the process.
Once you’ve tasted Contribute’s power, Sahlin zeroes in on its interface and tools. You’ll learn how to use Contribute’s streamlined Panels (thankfully, far less cluttered than Dreamweaver). You’ll work in Browse mode to use Contribute like a browser; and work on your pages in Edit mode. Sahlin also shows you some useful program tweaks -- for example, changing how Contribute handles Microsoft Office documents when you import them.
Next, you’ll walk through spell-checking text, creating and editing tables and hyperlinks, and working with framed pages. There’s a full chapter on creating new web pages -- from blanks, from preset Contribute or Dreamweaver templates, from the page you’re already viewing, or from a specific page your web administrator designates. These options make it easy to generate new content consistent with your existing site design.
Section IV is set aside for coverage of images: using images you’ve got; adjusting those images inside Contribute or an external editor; and using Contribute with Macromedia’s sophisticated Fireworks MX tool.
Last but definitely not least, there’s comprehensive coverage for site administrators: what you’re responsible for doing, how to define site permissions for each of your users; and how to establish site connections that connect them to the pages they need, while keeping everything else off limits. Contribute’s a winner. So’s this book. Bill Camarda
Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks for Dummies, Second Edition.