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Managing articles on your Web server

Feb 17, 20034 mins
Enterprise Applications

Last week we promised you a tool that works with the htmlArea utility from HtmlArea, you will recall, turns any plain text entry field (a textarea field) in Web forms into a WYSIWYG editor. The tool we’ll be looking at is Article Manager published by the same chaps.

Article Manager is a small-scale content management system (CMS) that can use htmlArea as the client-side editing tool (any text editing field can be enabled as an htmlArea field for WYSIWYG editing). also offers several products built on the same technology, all of which make it possible for Webmasters to leave specific Web content maintenance in the hands of users. The tools include Realty Manager for property listings, Auto Manager for car sales, DocBuilder for documentation, Job Manager for job placements and News Manager for news publishing.

In particular, DocBuilder is really cool for . . . guess what? Yep, documentation projects! In fact, the documentation for all the other products is done with DocBuilder.

If you have Perl installed, running up Article Manager is a breeze; it should take no more than 10 minutes. Don’t want to do the installation yourself? Then – and this is way cool – will do it for you at no charge! Amazing service. You just give them access rights and they FTP in, transfer the files, and voilà!

Either way, you’d be advised to start with the default configuration, play with it for a bit and then make any configuration changes needed. Article Manager’s default presentation display has the site’s title at the top of the page, article summaries in the middle, a category filter in the top left (so that you just see the summaries of articles in the category you’re interested in), a search function on the bottom left and a headline summary list on the right.

Don’t like the layout? You can change everything. The entire system is defined by templates that can be edited with any HTML editor, and the documentation to help you is well-laid-out and thorough.

However, the templates could do with a little more explanation – you’ll spend a while figuring out how all the pieces work together before you get comfortable making any really serious modifications.

You can create three types of users in Article Manager: Writers, Trusted Writers and Editors. A Writer can submit articles to categories for which he has been enabled but cannot make the articles appear on the Web site – an Editor has to approve them first. In addition, once a writer submits an article no one other than an Editor can modify it (even the Writer can’t change the article).

Trusted Writers can create articles in the categories for which they’re enabled and can make them visible. They also may view a list of any articles that they’ve created and can modify or erase them.

Editors are the demigods of the system (the administrator is the übergod): Editors have full control over whatever categories are enabled for them and can modify or delete any articles in those categories. Editors also can view articles that Writers submit and change their status to “visible” or “hidden.”

A minor weakness is that Article Manager doesn’t provide any explicit hooks for integration with the Web server’s user database, but that shouldn’t be too hard to fix if you’re an experienced Web programmer.

Article Manager also includes a very good search feature (both basic and advanced searches are supported), archiving and a Syndicated Content feature. Syndicated Content lets other sites create a Webfeed from your site through their sites. Note that this is not a Rich Site Summary feed (see All the news that’s fit to RSS), but a chunk of JavaScript that loads from the remote site to the clients, which pulls content from your site.

Article Manager costs $300, which includes a lifetime license, free installation, free support and free upgrades! We love this product! It is well-designed, well-executed, fast to install, pretty bulletproof, well-documented and well-priced.

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Mark Gibbs is an author, journalist, and man of mystery. His writing for Network World is widely considered to be vastly underpaid. For more than 30 years, Gibbs has consulted, lectured, and authored numerous articles and books about networking, information technology, and the social and political issues surrounding them. His complete bio can be found at

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