It's that time of year: when CMS Watch cancels all home leave, cages the writers and hides its booze; then whips them mercilessly until they've compiled the authoritative yearly statement of where Web CMS has been for the past year, where it stands, and where it is going. The result is the 12th edition of its renowned Web CMS Report, which comes in Standard, Enterprise, and European editions. Aimed at those seeking a Web CMS solution, this document reviews major and minor players in depth with ample visual aids like charts and screenshots.This also gives CMS Watch an opportunity to dust off its crystal ball and look ahead to what developments we can expect in Web CMS over the next twelve months. And that's exactly what it (or specifically Kas Thomas, formerly of Novell) has done, isolating seven industry trends to give developers and other IT pros some food for thought. Trend #1: A Return to Coupled Production and Delivery “Customers are more willing to consider Web content management systems that couple content production and delivery -- or put another way, systems that couple content management with website management. Vendors are responding accordingly. “ AJAX has been a primary driver of this trend, raising the bar of customer expectation for what web-based applications are capable of. Trend #2: WS Apathy [REST usurping SOAP] A fundamental shift in web service architecture is underway. There are two main contenders here: SOAP, a more traditional delivery mechanism for XML-based services which (contentiously) utilizes an Internet application layer protocol as a transport protocol, and REST, a newfangled pretender to the SOAP throne, utilized by web services like del.icio.us and Flickr. The REST architecture has earned huge support in a very short space of time, and is poised to challenge SOAP's status as the dominant delivery method for web 2.0 services in the near future. As Thomas whimsically points out, "...we may be nearing the point where 'SOAP' is a dirty word." Trend #3: Support for XML, but not Content Reuse XML is currently not being utilized most efficiently in relation to document management, but this is changing. A large document stored in a XML format is typically prime for repurposing amongst various channels: online, offline, documentation, mobile, etc. But often, using just part of the content of one XML document to aid in the composition of a completely different document is not supported. XML-stored documentation is currently usually stored as "coarse chunks," whereas storing them as a series of "fine chunks" would be more advantageous to many users. CMS Watch foresees "ever greater demand for [...] DITA-like compositioning, and an even greater demand for ongoing management of XML fragments, including usable dependency reports." Trend #4: The Return of the Add-On Module Buying a Web CMS is like buying a new Mercedes. You buy the bones of the car, but don't forget to budget for the extras. Leather upholstery? Woodgrain trim? Reversing sensors and built-in GPS? None of them are included in the asking price (not that I'd know or anything). So too with Web CMS. Many vendors' business model is now to sell customers a basic product, and charge extra for additional modules. Prepare and budget accordingly. Trend #5: AJAX-Feature Delays "Every dot-release of a product seems to come with assurances that 'our next product will have fantastic AJAX features.' But tomorrow is taking a long time to come." Ajax applications are pernickety in the development phase, and lend themselves to all kinds of bugs that take a long time to iron out. And the technology itself is still changing rapidly. Some vendors just give up on their AJAX interfaces and resort to less troublesome technologies. Trend #6: Java Content Repository Indifference Java Content Repository seems to be Next Big Thing. Trouble is, it was the NBT last year, too. And it probably will be next year as well. With its ability to "federate multiple content repositories of different types behind a common [...] API," JCR is a significant efficiency boon. But developers aren't exactly falling over themselves to accommodate it. As CMS Watch notes, perhaps this isn't too surprising. JCR is a "Silo-buster" of sorts that enables efficient code reuse. But "CMS vendors are not in the 'Silo-Busting' business. Quite the contrary," the report points out. Perhaps JCR could do with some less touchy repositioning. Trend #7: And yet... Innovation A gloomy and cynical assessment of the industry? Perhaps. But CMS Watch also has some positive things to say. All in all, Web CMS products are getting "broader and deeper." The best innovations come from smaller, less established developers. And you can get more bang for your buck than ever before. Web CMS Report 2008 Sample CEOs everywhere are doubtless scribbling letters to Santa as we speak, tongues poking out of the sides of their mouths, begging St. Nick to leave a copy of "Web CMS Report 2008" in their Christmas stockings. But you want it in time to make big changes for Q4, you're going to have to spend your own money. Check out the 40-page sample before you commit.