Ektron Inc. has introduced new, enhanced search capabilities and other features for version 7.0 of its CMS400.NET Ektron Markup Language, which the company released in late February at the cost of $9,650 for a 10-user license. This version had been in beta testing with a few customers since mid-2006, according to Ektron's COO, Ed Rogers.
"We're adding taxonomy, mapping, and an Ektron mark-up language as well as enhancements for blogs and forums," Rogers says, crediting customer feedback for the decision to add the new capabilities. The new features enable users to run more comprehensive searches and to link search results to blogs and forums.
"Search has to run fast," Rogers says. "One thing that people don't understand is how important search is becoming in terms of navigation. As many people use search to locate an item on a site as those who use menus. We put a high priority on search as a form of navigation."
But these searches often take too long to produce the desired results, give the user too many results to sift through, or include results that aren't focused enough, according to Rogers. The result is that the user often leaves the site to go to a competitor's site. Additionally, in the case of searching for site-specific information (e.g., HP driver information at the HP site), the frustrated search user will call customer support, a more costly support option than customer self-service.
In an effort to improve the search aspect of content management, Ektron's search API enables the generation of dynamic summaries based on content and assets. In the past, Ektron's search was linear—it queried the database directly for HTML and XML content. Site search now uses index search technology (hash look-up) to search content. So search results are prioritized to show the most likely results. Developers also have the flexibility to modify the search features to meet their own needs.
Additionally, Ektron's search function will stay more "focused," according to Rogers. If the user is in the driver section of a software company's website, when he searches for drivers, the search will be conducted within that area, rather than returning results from throughout the company's entire site.
Search is not the only way to help make content more findable, however, and this version of CMS400.NET provides hierarchal taxonomy classifications, and structures web pages and managed documents into logical groupings based on their content. Using any number of XML taxonomy trees predefined by CMS administrators, content can be categorized into structured parent-child navigation. In addition, taxonomy can also be used to limit the scope of a search to reduce the amount of irrelevant documents returned. The latest version of CMS400.NET also includes GeoMapping functionality, enabling the tagging of content with longitude and latitude coordinates to work with Microsoft Virtual Earth and Google Earth.
The new CMS400.NET doesn't focus entirely on finding content, however. It taps into other key emerging content trends like user-generated content and community. CMS400.NET Version 7.0 includes a community folder, which enables registered site visitors to edit web page content collaboratively with a wiki. Rogers says, "Many of Ektron's customers are looking to increase the ways they communicate with their own customers via the web. Wikis, blogs, and forums enrich the site visitor experience by getting them actively involved and interacting with each other and gives them a reason to keep coming back. Since CMS400.NET is often used for internal sites as well, these community features can also be employed as project management mechanisms to encourage collaboration and sharing among internal teams and departments."
Other new community-centric features include forum control enhancements including paging, IP address restriction, automatic restricted word replacement, predefined signature lines, upload and attachment capabilities, RSS and email alert subscriptions, member post history, user rankings, and a terms and conditions disclaimer; and a standard blog API to interface with and get updates from Microsoft Office 2007 and integrate with other desktop blogging tools. As Rogers says, "Community generated content, like wikis and blogs, is becoming more important. It's helpful to have the community of users add to the knowledge base."