magnolia_logo_2009.png Magnolia has been talking up a storm about its v5 preview for some months now. Today, it finally went public with that preview in Basel, Switzerland, with a full, public release scheduled for March next year.

This week’s conference is for the developer community. CEO and co-founder Pascal Mangold, and Boris Kraft, CTO and co-founder, sat down with CMSWire to outline progress to date, and told us that what remains to be done now is just app building.

That is not to dismiss the amount of work it will take to develop those apps, which will include a document management app and a new asset management app among others. But the majority of the back-end work was done and dusted in the v4.5 release earlier this year, with v5 focusing principally on the interface and mobility, which both Mangold and Kraft say are the most important differentiators in this version.

Magnolia’s Web CMS

The whole concept behind v5, in fact, is that it will be a Web CMS designed for mobile devices first and foremost and not just a content management system that has been adapted for mobile.

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Magnolia v5: Desktop view

In fact, Kraft says that the release of this preview is just another step along the way in Magnolia’s move towards becoming a mobile apps platform vendor.

That is not to say that as a company its strategy has changed dramatically and that it is moving away from its web CMS origins -- nor its open source ethos for that matter -- but, says Mangold, it reflects the way the world is changing, and that world is changing to mobile.

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Magnolia v5: Mobile interface view

Magnolia v5.0 Interface

So let’s think mobile. The basic concept behind the whole v5 Preview, is that users will be able to get wherever they want in the suite in one or two clicks.

It enables this through a simplified, easily navigable interface which is unlikely to see any changes between now and the final release.

It was also designed with business users in mind, so apart from an easy-to-use interface built using icons that any mobile user will be familiar with, it also provides an easy 'map' as to where the user is in the system as they navigate their way through it.

The concept here is built on the experience of many content management system users getting hopelessly lost in the system. While lost is bad enough with a desktop or even a laptop, for users on the road on a mobile device, it’s unforgivable.

Magnolia v5 Features

So let’s take a quick look at some of the things that are already available with this preview, and some of the things that are on the way with the general release in March.

The first thing to say here is that the apps are still being developed at the moment and between now and the release, the focus will be on this. For enterprises that will be looking to develop their own apps or customize apps in the future, Magnolia will also be providing Apps guidelines and Interface guidelines, which, we’ve been told, will make things super easy.

Released last March, v4.5 rounded off the back-end changes needed for this version to become a reality. It added support for standards like CMIS, JCR20, HTML5 and Java6.

In effect, it offered developer’s ways of building content channels for enterprises, enabling them to deliver content wherever it was needed. This version focuses on all the cool things that business users might want to do with a content management system on the road, without having to know too much about the back-end.

User Interface

If we mentioned the interface before, excuse us for mentioning it again, but it is pretty slick and is at the heart of Magnolia's mobile enterprise CMS concept. It was designed from a mobile view out and has been developed to enable content management through touch screens with features that will be familiar to anyone that has grown with the mobile revolution.

With it, users will be able to navigate across content and between Apps using a springboard similar to the one used on many smartphones. Once the user has decided on the app they are going to use, the step-by-step processes will enable task completion using only the functionality needed to complete that task.

Access Icons

Then on the interface itself and at the top of every screen are three icons that will take the users to the three main areas of Magnolia 5.

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Magnolia v5: Access Icons

The trinity of icons that head and structure the Magnolia 5 UI were custom-made for Magnolia. They include:

  1. Apps: Direct access to Apps that the user is looking for. It allows you to focus on specific tasks that solve all the problems a user might have. It is visible on every page and enables users to return to the Apps screen to pick an app or to switch between them. v5 also comes with a widget set and framework that will enable anyone develop customized apps that integrate with Magnolia.
  2. Pulse: Pulse updates users on everything that happens within the system through an activity feed. This includes content status, comments, content statistics and analytics.
  3. Favorites: Access to workspaces through shortcuts to common actions like adding pages, creating microsites or adding new content.

Action Bars

Because it’s mobile, Magnolia says it has dispensed with drop down menus as they are too cumbersome. Instead, on the side of the screen, action bars offer available possibilities for the screen you are working on. It can be expanded and collapsed through touch, while activities can be applied through simple touch squares.

The preview of Magnolia 5 demonstrates a content management system that is mobile, easy-to-use and flexible. It also appears to be the first web content management system that has been built for mobile rather than as an afterthought that was tacked on after someone forgot to include it at the planning stages.

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Magnolia v5: Action Bars

We have seen already from Gartner that enterprises in the medium term, if not the short term, are going to have to develop Bring-Your-Own-Device strategies. Magnolia 5 is actively following this trend by accommodating personalization for devices as well as an impeccable user experience that works on all systems.

Obviously, with all content management systems, there is an amount of personal preference: some you like, some you don’t. However, the ease of use of the v5.0 interface is clear and should attract a lot of business interest from users who don’t have the time to learn complicated systems.

Between now and the full release next March, Magnolia will be building apps with this in mind and as they are released we’ll take a close look at them. In the meantime, you can have a look for yourself on the demo site here.