Day Software, CQ5, CQ5.1 Our hearts are thumping and adrenalin levels are high as we tell you about the just-released Day's CQ5 WCM. To get as close as possible to a real-life experience, we went ahead and installed the software from scratch and played with it for a couple of days. It was a fun ride. Without further due, let’s jump in and see what Day came up with after three years of WCM silence.

CQ5 in a Nutshell

This release is a major rewrite of CQ WCM. It is actually a point release -- CQ5.1. The major release -- CQ5.0 -- was distributed to some of Day’s customers this summer. Following their feedback, it morphed into a point release that is making the news today. Day’s new Web CMS offering introduces an upgraded content repository infrastructure based on modern open source technologies and standards. CQ5’s core is an updated version of Day’s CRX repository, a commercially-licensed version of Day Software based on Apache Jackrabbit and Apache Sling projects. CRX is the Content Repository for Java technology API (JCR) standard, which is defined by the Java Specification Request 170 (JSR 170). In its new version, it incorporates new RESTful content application architecture. CQ5 builds on this updated infrastructure with new end user applications for Web Content Management, Digital Asset Management and Social Collaboration. CQ5 WCM is oriented towards marketers who want to be divorced from IT and have a fun environment to work with. It is no longer just about the ease of use, it’s about fun of use and unleashing creativity, says Day’s CMO Kevin Cochrane. This also applies to developers, who can have fun with the new JavaScript API and ActionScript API. CQ5.1 offers a rich-text, WYSIWYG user experience and an elegant, Macintosh-inspired, AJAX-powered GUI. day-cq5-gui.jpg

CQ5 Main Features

It is clear that a lot of work poured into CQ5. We’ll tell you about its main features. Be sure to check out your DayCare site or for more information and hidden gems.

Focus on Web 2.0

While some CMS vendors shy away from Web 2.0, thinking the Web 2.0 implosion is imminent; Day focuses on it big time. Some Social Collaboration-related developments are still in beta and will be released in Q1 2009, including forum, blog and calendaring functionalities. CQ5.1 ships with pre-built widgets for site enhancement: posts and comments, categorization and RSS feeds, tagging, slideshows, forms and enterprise wiki. A floating Sidekick is, essentially, a widgets and components toolbar. You can drag-and-drop items from Sidekick into pages. CQ5.1 Sidekick
CQ5.1 Sidekick
In the Tagging Manager, tagging and specific targeting rules are based on your user permissions. But any user can suggest tags, which later can be included in the overall taxonomy based on, for example, the number of times the tag was suggested. This allows for flexible taxonomy management. CQ5.1 Tagging
CQ5.1 Tagging on a Page Level
One thing we’ve noticed with the newly created tags is that they seem to be going through the workflow as any other content item, but they’re nowhere to be found in the workflow’s list of active items. There is a potential for users can create and manage very complex taxonomies in CQ5’s tagging environment.

Digital Assets Management

CQ5.1 offers decent DAM for Web CMS scenarios. Some of the main features of managing digital assets include: * Full image rendering * Audio and video * PowerPoint, Word, Excel, PDF file formats’ management * Transparent file-server replacement * DRM and metadata Management * Watermarking * Format transcoding One of the nicest things about CQ5.1 from an end user perspective is image editing. Unlike many other vendors, Day offers good image cropping functionality that is not Flash, but browser-based. You can crop (and not squash), rotate, map and flush images. CQ5 Image Editing Tools
CQ5 Image Editing Tools

Web Analytics and Reporting

Managed from the Page Properties level, CQ5’s analytics and reporting capabilities are quite basic and allow users to see real-time reports for a page or a content item. The number of impressions for each page is displayed in the Site Admin mode. A graphical representation of the number of visits over preset periods of time is available in the Page Properties view. CQ5 impressions view CQ5.1 is said to be shipped out-of-the-box with Omniture and Google Analytics integration. In our evaluation, we were only able to identify Google Analytics capability present. CQ5 Google Analytics Integration As far as WebTrends integration goes, it needs to be custom-built based on the ability to query all data on all Web pages from the CRX. So far, it hasn’t been implemented by any customers. Other external analytics providers’ integration is also possible we were told.

Clustering, Backup and Disaster Recovery

CQ5.1 shines when it comes to such crucial functionality as backup and recovery. Backup has been greatly simplified. The CRX repository now offers a hot backup utility that creates a backup file of the entire system, including content, configuration, components and scripts. Restoring your entire CQ5 instance is as easy as extracting the backup zip file and restarting the system. This functionality is a great accomplishment that should save organizations considerable amounts of time, money and resources. One click and all changes (even those currently being made) make it into a Quickstart-packaged file for disaster recovery, and your environment can be back up and running within minutes. Clustering was also improved. A CQ5 WCM cluster can be now set up much easier. A new cluster node is added by installing an empty CRX on a new machine and pointing it to the running CQ5 WCM cluster. It will hot join without you having to lift your finger. The full synchronization with the slave machine is done automatically. It sounds great and, as all things great, active clustering is an optional module and requires a separate license What we found especially compelling is a totally new way of working with customer support, should there be a problem with your CQ5 instance. Forget the never-ending chains of e-mails and exhausting phone calls, where customer support is almost blindly trying to navigate its way through your system. All you need to do is export (as a Quickstart image) your entire CQ5 image, send it to CS and have them unpack it and figure out what the problem is. No more sending log files and worrying about setting up VPN access.

Workflow and User Management

CQ5 WCM comes with a new workflow engine and a new http interface for creating and maintaining workflows based on the Java API and REST. Day’s workflow was in a dire need of a facelift, and we are glad to see a major rework here. Any business user with proper permissions can now create a custom workflow. While we think there’s a little too much freedom in this approach, it could be beneficial in the right hands. Unlike with many other CMS vendors, Day’s workflow is located directly in the Web client, thus eliminating the need for, say, Visio or Eclipse plug-ins and development work. Nope, we are not kidding you. CQ5 workflow designer
CQ5 Workflow Designer
You can drag-and-drop extra steps (Container, Participant, Process) and splits (AND and OR). RTFM is a must if you want to figure out how the steps are differentiated. You can also complete, step back or delegate any of workflow activities. Watch out for the fine-grained access controls, as they may make your workflow very complicated very quickly. The User Management console allows you to add new groups and new users. CQ5 user management While user management is pretty robust, there are some not so user-friendly things like the grayed-out Members tab under User Management. If we are not managing groups but users here, why do we need to see a tab that’s not relevant to what we are doing? Surprisingly, groups can also belong to other groups, which may end up creating a confusing mess. You can set up Page Permissions for Groups or Users. You can go as granular as you heart desires, including setting permissions not only on content, but on templates and digital assets. Usability-wise there are some other things Day could improve in the next point release. Look at this, for example: CQ5 page permissions Would you have ever guessed that you could double-click on "deny" in red to change user permissions? We didn’t think so. A dropdown, for example, would have accomplished the task in a more efficient manner. Users can be prepopulated from other user repositories by an initial import via LDAP, followed by creation of groups and modification of settings. One of the cool features about CQ5 is the ability to create a user in one mode and impersonate that user in a different mode, which could be very handy in many scenarios, as in if want to double-check workflow or permissions settings, for instance.

Installing CQ5

CQ5 needs about 700 MB of free disk space in the deployment directory. Prerequisites include an installation of a Java Runtime Environment (Java 5 or newer). You have to have it. The new CQ5 comes nicely packaged in a (not so nicely large) 145 MB executable .jar file. They call it a “Quickstart” file, and it has all the underlying platforms within it, including CRX (Day’s content repository). There’s a known bug associated with a path resolving issue around space characters, so place your Quickstart .jar file carefully. Word of advice: Read download instructions and release notes very carefully to be better prepared for some not-so pleasant surprises. And, you better know how to manually configure the JAVA_HOME environment variable to reference the JRE home directory, if you want to enjoy CQ5 properly, as this feature when we evaluated CQ5 was not automated for unknown reasons. Day’s idea was to make CQ5 easy to install and fun to use. Double-click on the Quickstart file, and wait for magic to happen. It looks like this (for about 20-30 minutes): day cq5 install startup screen When the installation is complete, it will should kick off a new browser window pointed at the default WCM setup at http://localhost:4502. Log in and enjoy. day cq5 welcome screen We were testing CQ5 on a two-year-old Dell Latitude D620 with a nice memory package, Windows XP Professional and IE 7. The laptop definitely had its moments of slowness during the CQ5 installation even with nothing else running. Every time you want to install a new instance (e.g., a Publish Instance) be prepared to idle for at least 20 minutes or so. This is when it gets really annoying. On the bright side, go meditate, have a smoke (or five) or a cup of coffee. By the time you come back, the install will be almost done. At least, there are no Next buttons and configuration screens, be grateful for that!

Working With CQ5

Hands down, CQ5 is a major improvement. On the not-so-bright side, more improvements can still be done. For one thing, when working in CQ5 you end up with a gazillion browser windows very quickly. Not just tabs, but windows, cluttering your screen. Almost every breath you take within CQ5 results in a new window being opened. And this is not to mention all the pop-ups you need to click through to accomplish a task. Don’t hold your breath while trying to decipher the icons used in CQ5. They are not descriptive or self-explanatory. Hey, the icons are tough to nail, but in this case it is as close to a usability failure as it gets. With CQ5, you can (supposedly) select multiple digital assets and drag-and-drop them onto a page component to create a slideshow. Well, it doesn’t work. And there are no error messages to at least hint you at what you’ve being doing stupidly. We did manage to create a slideshow by adding each image separately, but wished we hadn’t wasted our time. All it does is zoom the image into the absolute pixilated graininess of it and then pauses to transition to the next image. Transitions, especially on slideshow titles, are not very smooth. There are no traditional slideshow controls. Template- and layout-wise, CQ5 ships with a good number of layout options: 2-column, 3-column, various percentage columns -- good foundation for any Web site. Column controls are easy enough to manipulate for a user of any level. Developers can customize column layouts with several lines of HTML or JavaScript code. Our take on column controls is to approach them wisely and really evaluate what you want end users to have access to. As you may end up with such unsightly pages like this one, where we put too long of a component title for one of the columns, and it simply got cut off: day cq5 unsightly views Fortunately, image sizes can be restricted in the Design Mode. But that has to be done manually for every component. Having to fire up the Quickstart file every time you want to access the system is a bit daunting, especially, since A) it takes time to start it, and B) you have to keep this startup pop-up-ppy window hanging around for you to be able to work with the WCM.

Developing in CQ5

We didn’t get a chance to play with CQ5 from a developer perspective due to time constraints, but here’s the general scoop on what developers can expect. Day’s idea is to make CQ5 available and enjoyable for programmers of all skill sets and platforms. Even a “green,” out-of-college kid with some knowledge of JavaScript and JSP should be able to create custom apps for CQ5. Developers devoted to C#, .NET, MOSS and other things Microsoft can still work with CQ5’s JCR programmatic interface. JCR is comprised of two parts: * A Web application that offers the JSR-170 compliant API and temporary data storage (in the form of the session) * A Persistence Manager with persistent data storage, such as the file system or a database. Using bindings for PHP, Python and .NET, as well as JavaScript and ActionScript API’s, developers can create various RIA’s. The sky is the limit. The benefit of having the JCR-based, RESTful, content-enabled, vertical applications (CEVA) platform lies in the ability of anyone being able to develop extensions and custom content-oriented applications using this foundation. True to its JCR (JSR 170) and JSR 283 standards and CMIS ideals, Day offers legacy ECM and custom repositories interoperability with bi-directional read/write support, reference implementations and support for connectors to SharePoint and Lotus Notes. CQ5 WCM is based on the Apache Sling framework facilitating easier development. Other technologies include: CQ5 Architecture/Technology Stack
CQ5 Architecture/Technology Stack
The new Eclipse-based development environment CQDE further improves the development experience.

CQ5 Documentation

Documentation is (too) often an Achilles' heel for many WCM vendors. In Days case, generally, the CQ5 documentation is comprehensive, with no evident blank spots, and well-written. A little suggestion: Leave some of your marketing fluff out of the Developers’ Guide. Developers are clearly not interested in that kind of message. The CQ5 Quickstart .jar file ships with (a lot of) documentation contained within it, including CQ, CRX and Java-related info. A first-grader-level glossary is there as well. One would expect WCM customers to know what CSS or Eclipse is, if the customers have bought a WCM system like Day’s CQ5. Multiple instances of the same document will make you question your sanity. Not only there are multiples, almost each document exists in two formats: HTML and PDF. No wonder the Quickstart file is so bloated (from the originally advertised 60 MB). As far as we're concerned, HTML help belongs on the Web and not on every server you install CQ5 on. You will also find all the screenshots used in the documentation in your Quickstart file, in separate graphics folders (just in case you’re a screenshot addict). With all of the above in mind, we found it a bit tricky to navigate the docs folders.

CQ5 Final Thoughts

From what we have experienced so far, it takes a lot of patience and legwork to get things up and running. CQ5 is one of those Web CMSs where reading the manual is highly recommended if not obligatory. While some functionality is easy to figure out on the fly, we can’t say the same about the system in general. The new GUI is pleasing to the eye, but not as much to the mouse. Inline editing works great (albeit no spell check). Installation and system administration can be painful. This whole idea of making the CMS “fun-to-use” vs. easy-to-use is what we think took a toll on the overall usability. It is not fun when you reach a point of frustration after battling with too many opened windows and things not working the way you hoped they would. It does look like 5.1 could spend a bit more time in the loving hands of R&D. Technology-wise, not many vendors offer the same fancy and modern technology stack as Day does, and we think this is really where the product strength lies. As of now, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be easy-breezy for existing Day customers to upgrade to CQ5. The vendor offers an “update tool” to convert existing CQ 3.5.x and CQ 4.x instances into CQ5, but the update wizard is currently in beta. All in all, we are proud of Day for taking this huge leap in the evolution of its WCM system Communiqué. It is clearly a major improvement over the previous version and sports quite a few really cool features. Let’s see if CQ5 will make Q4 2008 for Day even brighter.