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Content management, especially popularized as Web content management, is nearing its tenth anniversary. More and more CMS vendors are converging on a basic set of features that characterize a content management system. So I spoke to a number of vendors to see who claims priority for their original contributions to the basic toolset.

Who first separated presentation from content? Who introduced version control? How about the first WYSIWYG editor (what you see is what you get) especially delivered via a Web browser)? Where did workflow come from? Who invented check-in and check-out? And was the first content repository a file, a database, a relational database, or something else altogether?

How old are powerful concepts like reuse and single-source publishing, personalization and multi-channel delivery? Who first added metadata to content? And did they use it in their search engine, or use it to build a taxonomy for advanced navigation? Who introduced link management? To judge from the hype on some CMS Web sites, all these ideas sprang full-blown from the heads of their development teams in the last couple of years.

I searched Brewster Kahle's incredible Wayback Machine and turned up a number of press releases, some by companies still famous after the dot-bomb years, and some about products that have been acquired over and over throughout the merger and acquisition wars.

Up front, let me say that I can't claim to have all the evidence in hand and can't cover all of what I do have in this introductory article. So I'll look to reader feedback for a future piece that will place each core component on a timeline, perhaps on the tenth anniversary of WCM itself. At the moment, that would appear to be June 2005. I'll tell you why.

Who Gets the Most Credit?
I've talked to CM industry analysts and also asked "Who Did What When?" on the CMS mailing lists. There was nearly universal agreement that kudos for Web content management belongs to Vignette. Most experts correctly dated the introduction of Vignette StoryServer and StoryBuilder as 1996.

According to Frank Gilbane of Bluebill Advisors and the Gilbane report, "there can be little doubt that it was Vignette who was most responsible for the term [content management] becoming widely associated with Web content management. This in spite of the fact that there were far more people ‘managing Web content' using Microsoft and Lotus technology at a time when you could still count Vignette's customers on one hand."

Vignette's press release on the subject is dated July 1996 and by the end of that year many more companies had jumped on the WCM bandwagon, some using Vignette's description, some a bit more generic. That October, Documentum introduced "RightSite - Industrial Strength Web Content Management." In November, FutureTense launched the "Texture Web Publishing System." In December, Inso acquired "Dynabase--XML-based Web Content Management and Publishing."

I was an editor at NewMedia Magazine when we awarded the (January) 1997 Hyper Award to Vignette as Internet Production Tool, so Vignette was most prominent at the time, but it turns out 1996 is not really the right year. The evidence lies in a careful reading of the July 1996 Vignette press release, and it tells us a lot about the origins of content management technology. Tools were often created by someone who critically needed them and just could not find them yet from a tools supplier.

Look Back at PRISM
The needy party was Web content publishing pioneer CNET. Founders Halsey Minor and Jonathan Rosenberg built their own Web content management system and it introduced a number of today's core capabilities, like content reuse and personalization. They called it PRISM (Presentation of Realtime Interactive Service Material). Page templates assembled the content dynamically from a relational database. Rosenberg knew other companies would need these tools and that CNET's ambitious business plan for content publishing should not include software development.

In the meantime, Ross Garber and Neil Webber had moved from New England to Austin, TX in the hopes of finding a supportive environment for their Web publishing technology startup called Vignette (they did a word search for anything containing "net"). One day they called CNET to learn how so much content was being produced dynamically, and discovered PRISM. Halsey Minor licensed the patented software to Vignette, invested $500,000, and took a seat on the board.

So I'll tentatively date the origin of Web content management to early summer 1995 and expect to provide a fuller account when I get your letters correcting this story. , a developer and provider of performance-based marketing and commerce enabling services, and Espotting Media, Inc., a paid listings provider in Europe, have announced the completion of the merger between the two companies.

The merger of U.S.-based and European-based Espotting is intended to provide the united companies with leverage in the area of performance-based marketing internationally. The combined company offers paid listings services covering a variety of geographic and vertical marketplaces on three continents and reportedly has relationships with over 100,000 online businesses.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, which was completed on July 1 2004, Espotting stockholders received 7.0 million shares of common stock and approximately $11.5 million in cash, in accordance with a net asset adjustment. is also issuing options to purchase approximately 700,000 shares of common stock, at a weighted average exercise price of $4.71, in exchange for options and warrants held by Espotting employees and affiliates. The Espotting Network forms one of four divisions for, which also acquired Miva and Comet Systems during the first six months of 2004.


Groxis, Inc., a provider of visual search software, has announced the general availability of Grokker 2.1 for the Apple Macintosh platform. The company's software is used for exploring collections of documents, journals, photos, and Web pages visually. Mac users now have a new Internet research tool that lets them search the Web, including Google, Amazon, and others, more deeply than with a Web browser alone. Built for Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar and 10.3 Panther, Grokker is now optimized for Apple's next generation operating system.

Near-Time, Inc., a provider of content and knowledge management software, has announced the commercial availability of their flagship product, Near-Time Flow. Flow is a rich client application that leverages existing and emerging Web services standards and content. Flow's interface is architected for the full range of private and public computing, meeting the converging needs of professional and social computing. Flow is a P2P collaborative content and knowledge manager for Mac OS X Panther.

Built upon a standards-based architecture, Flow provides information integration capabilities for individuals and workgroups. Standards enable Flow users to access, manage, and repurpose content across the spectrum of private and public information. For instance, users can repurpose a Web log or news feed for an internal project, or a group of individuals can collaborate on content to be published on the Internet. Some of the supported standards include XML, HTML, FTP, WebDav, SMTP, iDisk, RSS, and Web logs (via Atom). Flow is designed to complete the information lifecycle, from authoring, gathering, organizing, and collaborating to the publishing of content.

Near-Time Flow is available for download online. Near-Time Flow licenses are available individually or in multi-user packages and are priced at $99.95 for a single license, $895.99 for 10 licenses, and $3,995.95 for 50 licenses. The annual basic services fee for a subscription is $29.95 and is available free of charge to Flow customers through August 31, 2004. Additionally, customers may host the Near-Time Relay Server for an additional license fee.


Interwoven, Inc., an enterprise content management (ECM) company, has announced that NEC Corporation, a Japanese Internet solutions provider, has implemented the Interwoven ECM solution to underpin NEC's "Business Solution" enterprise site. The content, news, and event information related to NEC products and services which is made available on the NEC enterprise site, "Business Solution," is currently compiled daily by the WEB staff which oversees the site, after which it is edited and put through a series of review processes before final posting on the site.

Until now, each department that contributed information would submit their content by FTP for aggregation on a test server set up by the WEB staff. This content would then be re-formatted for publishing, after which it would undergo a final review by the providing department. Now, with Interwoven TeamSite Content Server software's templating and workflow functionalities, the majority of the content aggregation and review processes have been automated. Furthermore, the content that had passed the final review phase was previously transferred to the main server for posting on the site, while at the same time a cloning function was used to deliver the same content to a second public server. Now, with Interwoven OpenDeploy Distribution Server software, it has become possible to distribute the content to both servers simultaneously.


The American Psychological Association (APA) has announced that PsycCRITIQUES, a new searchable database of book reviews in psychology, will launch in September 2004. The database will replace APA's print journal, Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books. APA will publish the final print issue of Contemporary Psychology in December 2004.

In each weekly release, PsycCRITIQUES will deliver approximately 15 reviews of psychological books, most from the current copyright year. Weekly issues may also sometimes feature a review of a popular first-run film or a comparative review of several current trade books. A retrospective review evaluating the impact on the literature of a book published 20 to 50 years earlier will also appear occasionally.

Optional email alerts will provide the table of contents and abstracts from each weekly issue. To enable researchers to study evaluations of the book literature over time, PsycCRITIQUES will include a backfile of approximately 4,000 reviews from 1995-2003. Reviews will be indexed with vocabulary from APA's Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms to facilitate retrieval.

The migration to PsycCRITIQUES will take place between September 2004, when the database will go live, and December 2004, when the final print issue will be published. During this period, free access to PsycCRITIQUES will be provided for current individual and institutional subscribers, who will have the opportunity to renew into paid subscriptions or site licenses for access to the electronic database. Paid access to PsycCRITIQUES will begin in January 2005.


SiteScape, a provider of secure Web-based workflow and collaboration solutions, has announced that the company has recently won contracts from the Centers for Disease Control and (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). The government health agencies have deployed SiteScape Enterprise Forum, the company's flagship collaboration software product. The SiteScape Enterprise Forum collaborative solution is designed to enable globally dispersed organizations within the government community to function more effectively. By delivering Web-based collaborative features that are platform-independent, browser-based, and secure, Forum allows employees, customers, business partners, and suppliers to share information.

NIEHS uses SiteScape Enterprise Forum for their environmental toxicology program with various chemical studies. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) is one of 27 Institutes and Centers of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a component of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The NIH comprises the Office of the Director and 27 Institutes and Centers. It is also a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. CDC selected Forum for its functionality and workflow for communication with state public health officials regarding pertinent medical events. CDC serves as the national focus for developing and applying disease prevention and control, environmental health, and health promotion and education activities designed to improve the health of the people of the United States.


ECNext, a provider of technology and services for marketing, selling, and delivering commercial business content via the Web, has announced the launch of an ecommerce site for The Information Network, a market research and consulting company targeting the semiconductor, computer, and telecommunications industries. The ECNext-powered solution is intended to boost marketing of The Information Network's information content by offering a variety of options, from a full report to a single specific chart. This increases the visibility of the Information Network's market intelligence to existing and new business users by ensuring that the relevant keywords in each section are exposed to search engines' indexes. The Information Network's ECNext-powered ecommerce solution includes a range of marketing, online sales, and digital rights management (DRM) capability required for selling business information on the Web. With the ECNext-powered solution, information content from The Information Network research and analysis is more readily available as a "self service" purchase for business executives needing in-depth business information.


Parlano, Inc., a provider of collaborative messaging applications, has announced that BrokerTalk, a London-based start-up, has standardized its organization on Parlano's MindAlign Collaborative Messaging Framework. BrokerTalk, a new service launched by a group of senior investment bankers, fixed-income traders and asset managers, plans to use the product to reveal key trading activities--known as the flow--that drive the price action in the markets.

MindAlign is a real-time communications solution that delivers visibility of and access to people and information across organizational and geographic boundaries. This business application works as a foundation for improved communications, providing persistent group and topic-based instant messaging and collaboration tools. MindAlign securely connects employees, customers, and trading partners around the world with people, information, and context to help companies execute trades and business processes more efficiently.