Macromedia Contribute 2 review

4.5 out of 5
£80

For

The layman can now update established websites with ease

Against

None that we can find

For any small or large company running the company website can be an immense task. Today, a company without a website is like a company without a phone. We have all seen the boom of the internet over the last couple of years. The amassing of information for anyone to read, learn from and act on. But how do you get it for your company without the need for expensive software licences or investing in hours of training? Worse still, the majority of company websites soon become outdated because there is only one expert in the entire company who knows how the intricacies of Dreamweaver or whichever web editing package is in use at the office.

Macromedia, while renowned for offering support to the high-end user in the guise of its Dreamweaver series, has understood the gap in the market for companies and people who need to put new content up on a website, but a) don’t want to pay the fees for a site licence for a professional web editing package like Dreamweaver, and b) don’t have the technical nous to run the professional package itself anyway.

In steps Contribute 2, a fully automated contributing (funny that) software package that allows you to upload content to a website without the need of any knowledge of HTML or web code. Based on the use of templates with editable regions, all the user has to do once they have edited and saved their page is simply press the publish button and the page is submitted to the site. Of course that’s not all the software offers, but it is pretty much the crux of it.

In greater detail, the package allows you to do many things at many different levels. As a site administrator you can set up the system to offer you a number of security features, including the generation of encrypted keys to allow specific people access to specific parts of the site and blocking what users can and cannot do to the pages.

As a contributor the package has been designed around ease of use. The interface is simple, with little that can go wrong, no matter how new the user is to uploading content. For this reason you are presented with only three windows, the main window is the preview and editing pane, the second is a pane showing you what files you have open and the third - there to prove this package really is aimed at novices - is a help window.

Open a page - you can only open a blank page or a template - and you can edit, add copy, images, tables and other such HTML niceties without the worry of getting anything wrong - in fact you can’t even look at the HTML at any point within this package, and even if you do get it wrong Macromedia have included a roll back feature so you can easily revert back to the original document. In addition to that still, there is also a review feature that rather than publish to the web straight away, users can email the draft file to the site administrator so he or she can check things over before uploading the page.

Contribute 2 has also added Pay Pal functionality to the overall package allowing you to easily create Pay Pal buttons on the site via a simple step-by-step guide. Those wanting to make an internet shop couldn’t have it any easier.

But that's not all - for some curious reason, Macromedia has tucked in a little program on the side - FlashPaper Printer. In itself the possibilities make this a worthwhile package without the content management. The printer that installs itself into your printer folder allows you to print anything to a flash file. Once printed its pretty much like a .PDF file and you can easily embed into your website or send to other people. The files saved are considerably smaller than the .PDF standard and better still, you can view them on a flash supported browser.

Verdict

While you still need to have someone who has the know-how to create the templates in the first place, this does make content administration easier to manage and control. Site administrators fearing that giving there pride and joy to others less educated in the ways of the web will end in tears, can now take some of the control back.

Contribute 2 has managed to do the balancing act between not only making it easy for the content editor, but also the administrator at the other end. For that reason, large company or small, this is a great piece of software for those in need of maintaining an up to date website at a very low cost.