Hippo is slated to release the next version of its open source content management system next week. We had a sneak preview and we're going to share what we saw with you. Note: it's all about what the audience needs.

Multi-channel Isn't Enough

That's the key point that Hippo is making with the release of Hippo CMS 7.7. The Hippo vision is one of supplying information that is personalized (delivering the most relevant content) and context-aware (aware of location, device used, behavior, time of day, history, social profile and more).

Hippo's vision of Context Aware Content Management

To help organizations provide deliver on this vision, Hippo has come up with some new features, including a new Channel Manager and personalization.

Editor's Note: See 2012 - When Content Meets Context

Channel Manager

Many organizations today support a global customer base, which typically means different websites and languages, along with different devices. Hippo refers to each website as a "Channel". But a channel can also mean a website in a specific language, a physical document, an iPad application or a mobile device.

Hippo CMS Channel Manager

The Channel Manager allows organizations to set up different channels and then view those channels within an integrated preview in the content administration environment. Remember, Hippo CMS is designed to completely separate content from presentation (an architectural design), so you might think this type of integrated preview isn't possible -- it is now with Hippo 7.7.

You still edit your content via the neutral content editing process, but can easily see how that content looks in the various channels you have set up.

It's also easy to set up new channels based on templates or based on other sites and then tweak those templates for a subsite. Hippo refers to this as blueprinting, but we won't say that too loudly or SDL might get upset.

Hippo CMS Subsite Blueprinting

We should note that the preview for mobile and tablet devices is currently a generic preview. However, Hippo is working on an integrated device preview capability that will allow you to select the device skin you want to preview your channel within. Expect this to come soon. I did see a sneak peak of that functionality and it was good.

Personalization Also Featured

Hippo 7.7's personalization capabilities are initially designed for group (or role-based) content delivery (authentication and content is group based). This means you could easily create an intranet/extranet and personalize based on roles, or you could create a subscription-based section of your website.

Hippo 7.7 Personalization

This is just the beginning of Hippo's plans for a new personalization engine and context repository, so keep an eye on what they are doing.

For WCM solution providers, ‘context aware’ goes well beyond managing web experiences and personalization,” said Jeroen Verberg, CEO of Hippo. “It digs deep into how we will enable our clients to open their repositories so that things like location, environmental data, history, social attributes and even real-time online behavior can be utilized to deliver a more relevant, contextual experience. At Hippo we believe that this philosophy applies to both the managers of the content and the audiences the managers are empowering to consume their content through whatever method they choose.”

Also new in Hippo CMS 7.7 is Google Analytics integration, a new broken link checker and a new extensible reporting dashboard.

Things that are in the works for future versions include advanced personalization, behavioral targeting and context-aware search, all features that will help organizations deliver great web experiences.

Both Forrester and Gartner, among most other analysts, agree that context is a key element of supporting high quality customer experiences. And Hippo is not the only Web CMS vendor to go this route: CoreMedia, Sitecore, SDL and many others have this same view of the future of content management. It's the delivery that's typically different and that is where Hippo will have to define itself. That's what it's working on.