Cloud Connected

"The only difference between Cloud CMS and your current on-premise document repository is that you don't have to worry about software or hardware installation and upgrades any longer."
Jeff Potts, Founder
Metaversant Group
* Showing search results for tag: cloudcms

Content Analytics working in Cloud CMS in minutes

I need to confess that I find the Analytics feature in Cloud CMS absolutely amazing. More amazing is the fact you can sign up for a Cloud CMS trial and see the Analytics feature work with the Sample Web Site project with no configuration or programming necessary. Enough of my excitement – I will outline how you can see this feature:

  1. Sign up for a Cloud CMS trial. Login as instructed in the email you will be sent
  2. Select the Sample Web Project. This will take a couple of minutes for the system to create the project and the Sample Web Site
    1. At this point you can look at the CMS components and your hosted Website.
    2. Navigate through Documents to view Cupcakes (Samples->Catalog->Products)
  3. Now - when you look at the hosted website or a preview of the website analytics will be collected real-time. Look at various cupcake pages
    • Preview: Select Product Catalog to view the cupcake site
    • To find the URL to hosted site.
      1. In the left Nav select Applications
      2. Open Sample Web Application
      3. Select Deployments to find the URLs for your hosted site
  4. To view Analytics
    1. in the left Nav select Warehouses (nearly at the bottom of the left nav)
    2. Open Sample Web Project ‘analytics’ warehouse
    3. Open Warehouse
    • Observe the counts of various cupcake pages viewed

What is not included in this demo:

  1. Events: triggering actions based of the analytics collected. For example:
    • Sending an email when certain number of content views
    • Validation that content has been read
    • Automatically, changing where content appears based on the content metrics

This is a fairly simple example of a very powerful feature which hopefully you have been able to see in minutes. I have not seen this type of feature within a Content Management System other than with costly add-on products or search tools.

If you have any questions or comments please email

Cloud CMS Web and Mobile Forms

One of the things that Cloud CMS does really well is forms - specifically, web and mobile forms.

If you’ve ever worked with the development of forms before, you know they’re pretty tricky to put together. You typically have back-end code that is responsible for taking a data structure, validating it and writing it to a database. And you also have front-end code which does user-facing data validation that is cosmetically appealing (pretty red boxes) and helpful. You need to think about customizing the front-end controls (using JavaScript typically) to offer a compelling end-user experience while also offering an intuitive layout. Form elements need to interact together such that changes to one part of a form automatically update or validate with other parts of the form.

It gets more interesting as the requirements grow. For example, you may be asked to have your form work across multiple pages. Perhaps there is a need for a wizard with previous, next and submit buttons. Or perhaps there is conditional logic such that certain sections of a form only appear if a user selects something. Or perhaps the next button should take you to a different set of pages depending on your form’s data (such as having to fill out certain income schedules for a tax payment submission).

And across all of that, there is the question of validation and making the user interface intuitive to end users as data changes. End users should be informed of when they are allowed to proceed to the next step in a form and be shown what updates are required or how they can fix things.

All of this is usually very challenging to deliver, particularly since it requires so much front-end and back-end code that needs to be kept in sync. As such, it has been a hard problem to generalize until very recently.

In the past few years, we’ve seen some new innovations that have made this easier.

One of these innovations is JSON schema which provides a descriptive way to structure your content. You can use JSON Schema to express forms, their data attributes and how they should be validated. With JSON Schema, you can singularly describe the constraints and validation logic of your form and then have that validation run on both the client and server side. You just write it once and it applies in both places.

Other technical innovations include modularized JavaScript and JSON document databases. Modularized JavaScript and other improvements to JavaScript (including EcmaScript 5 and the pending EcmaScript 6) allow for flexible development of intelligent controls that run in the browser. This effectively allows the browser to be much more intelligent about it’s rendering and enables it to make late decisions about how to lay out the controls onto the page or bind them into wizards. This process can be driven entirely from configuration (also a JSON document) while still allowing for JS controllers and methods (packaged up into AMD modules).

Using HTML injection to build user interfaces or forms has really grown up in the world. Popular frameworks like Angular.js or Ember.js work this way. Instead of generating HTML on the back-end and passing it over to be shown in the browser, the front-end generates its own HTML using JSON data retrieved from the back-end. This allows for really beautiful user interfaces that are customized on-the-fly, per user and per device.

Cloud CMS builds on all of this to deliver really intuitive and easy web and mobile forms. We provide an open-source, JavaScript-based Cloud Forms engine that runs entirely on JSON Schema. It builds forms for you on-the-fly, using a configuration-driven approach. And it saves your form data right into Cloud CMS so that you can collaborate around it, report on it and leverage it within your business.

Several years ago, we decided to open-source our forms engine under the Apache 2.0 license so that anyone could use it within their projects. No strings attached and no funny stuff. We’re big believers in open-source. It’s not just that we want to give back, but we also believe that the open-source process is the best way to build a fantastic product.

The result was Alpaca Forms. We put a web site up and promoted releases, along with documentation, examples and community forums. The result has been amazing! We’ve watched as Alpaca has been used in all sorts of interesting projects, ranging from education and government to the entertainment and medical worlds. We’re so glad that it has helped people to deliver amazing applications!

And beyond that, we’ve really enjoyed working with the community. Such great people with interesting ideas and lots of feedback. We’ve greatly enjoyed being in touch with such a great community!

Cloud CMS continues to build and offer Cloud CMS Forms as part of its offering. Each Cloud CMS subscription comes with a fully-engaged content management system that naturally works with Alpaca’s web forms. We offer technical support, bug fixes and production-level SLA’s for Alpaca within live applications.

If you’d like to learn more about Cloud CMS forms, visit our web site or Sign up for a Free Trial.

Thanks for being part of our community!

Selling a CMS to your Boss?

You have found the CMS to answer all your dreams and perhaps a lot more – now what? The quest for CMS nirvana is over and you are ready to start moving forward and onto the interesting challenges ahead.

Probably not – you still have to sell the CMS to your Management! Your management is likely less interested in the great architecture/features and more interested in the costs to the business of buying or even not buying the CMS.

Coming from the business side, this blog touches on the topics I would like technical teams to consider in their research. When presenting the CMS evaluations and recommendations to management the technical team should step into the Dark Side – they need to prepare and think like a manager.

Does the CMS meet the High level feature requirement(s)?

Evaluate against the written criteria and try to present the findings in an unbiased manner. Compromises may have to be made or perhaps the requirements were unrealistic. Either way – this is only one of the factors management is looking at so do not despair.

  1. What features are critical?
  2. What features are nice to have?
  3. Don’t buy functionality you don’t need. It is easy to get distracted
  4. Consider current and future needs?
    • Features
    • Scalability

What is the Total Cost of Ownership?

This is usually an area technical people do not want to venture into but please persevere. You are often best positioned to calculate the costs: server sizing, whether technology is a fit for the organization, third party costs,..

Budget is always a factor in selection of products/solutions. You must go further and look at all costs, ie Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), because there are many hidden and less obvious costs with any CMS. Be prepared to consider all the costs and what is your basis for those costs – not just the obvious purchase price, but the setup/environment, etc… Even Open Source has a cost – ie. if this is a business critical system how is it supported

  1. Annual license cost
  2. License model (cpu/user) and cost of add-on components
  3. Additional license costs as you scale
  4. Cost of initial setup, maintenance, upgrades
  5. Services cost for customizations (internal and external)
  6. Training
  7. Third party costs
  8. Setup and Infrastructure. The costs can be significant and can have a financial/time/resource impact. On premise, hosted, Cloud, SaaS (Software as a Service),..

Think like your manager?

If you get in the same mindset as management you can prepare and present accordingly:

  1. Return On Investment (ROI): A performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment or to compare the efficiency of a number of different investments.
  2. Time to Value (TTV): is a business term that describes the period of time between a request for a specific value and the initial delivery of the value requested. This is interesting as often the value is not monetary. A CMS can be critical decision for business growth and expansion.
  3. Risks and Risk Mitigation: need to identify risks and have a risk mitigation plan
  4. Not ‘Bleeding Edge’: rarely does a company want to be the first with a new release or product.
  5. Core business: Rarely do you find a manager that is as excited as you with technology – they just need to know it works. I have had customers who have stated to me that if they have to get involved with the CMS then it is failing for them ie they are getting distracted from their core business
  6. Managers are human too: Demo and trail will short cut a long discussion

What will be your involvement? (or what type of customer are you?)

Consider how you want to work with the CMS. Do you have available resources and budget to configure and maintain the CMS and 3rd party systems. These are key questions for management: management want to concentrate resource on their business and do not want time and resources to be distracted. A SaaS type model can be very appealing to a business in that it allows resources to concentrate on their business.

  1. A SaaS (Software as a Service) type model or Fully managed service? SaaS CMS services can convert expensive capital outlay for servers and network equipment into a monthly operating expense, while also reducing the IT resources required to manage enterprise records.
  2. Want an Out of the Box product with minimal maintenance/support needed?
  3. Is there an internal IT team and who are expected to own all aspects of the CMS going forward?

(Table inspired from “SaaS vs. In-House DAM – Which is Right For You”

Is there Support/Help available?

You need to be sure that if you need help there is help available when you need it. If you are using the CMS for your company or for your customers you will need commercial support.

  1. What commercial support is available?
  2. Self help information
  3. FAQ’s, search
  4. Is there a community .

Is CMS information difficult to find?

The easier it is to find clear information the better. Also, it is difficult not to be suspicious when a vendor is not open – what are they trying to hide? Note: your manager is likely to perform their own research to some level so this must not be too challenging an experience.

  1. Is there clear Product Pricing information publically available?
  2. If Open Source (what is in the ‘free’ version and what is in the Commercial version)
  3. Can you get a free Trial of the full product?

Is the CMS company a company you want to work with? - Integrity and References

Do some basics: email and talk to the vendor for information and support? When choosing a product/company consider it more as a win-win partnership. If you cannot see this partnership stop and reconsider!

  1. Initial communication and type of communication. Including does the vendor have and aggressive inside sales team that calls you when you watch their video or download an article. The product should standup by itself.
  2. Case studies and references
  3. Trust? Do you like this company and do you feel you can rely on them to be with you after the initial deal

Final Comment:

Choosing a CMS is difficult and can be an expensive mistake which will not go away. Do your research and provide as full a picture of the CMS as possible to your management such that there are no surprises after purchase. Some CMSs are very costly and as such present a substantial investment and risk to the business. Whatever you can do to reduce the risks will make the discussion with your management easier. In particular: ability to try out the CMS; a SaaS model will allow for easier adoption and if necessary easy exit; and choose a vendor you feel confident with.