Hannon Hill Updates Web CMS to v6.2

Hannon Hill (news, site) keeps tinkering away with its Cascade Server v6.x Web CMS, which today was released as v6.2.

After only a month of testing Cascade Server 6.2 Beta, which was released on June 9th, the official release of v6.2 incorporates all the major changes in the beta version plus a few fixes.

There are a number of other upgrades that come with v6.2, including upgrades to its Velocity Tools, and Folder Copy improvements, but it is really the Sites aspect of Cascade Server that HH has really been looking at -- a feature that first saw the light of day in v6.0.

Building on v6.0

With the official release of the Cascade Server 6.0 in April, Hannon Hill said it had achieved the speeds it wanted as that version was focused on back-end performance enhancements, flexibility to manage more users and new additions including Sites.

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The Cascade Server v6.2 user interface
 

An XML-based web content management system aimed at medium-sized organizations, Cascade Server includes AJAX enabled WYSIWYG editing, file management, collaboration and compliance support.

V6.0, as might be expected included a number of upgrades on the v5.x series, many of which appeared on their communities ‘must-have’ list.

The changes could be grouped into over 40 changes together, covering two principal areas: Roles and Sites.

However, it would seem that HH was not completely happy with the outcome -- or if they were they had a funny way of showing it -- as they went to a beta version of 6.2 only six weeks later, and produced this final version of 6.2 only four weeks after that.

Three Principal Upgrades

The three principal ways in which Sites has been upgraded has been cross-site linking, template sharing across sites and Velocity Engine enhancements.

Cross-Site Linking

Just to put the cross-site linking feature in perspective; Hannon Hill has as its target clients higher education, government, and technology companies. The majority of these companies will have multiple website, and the majority of those will be decentralized.

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Hannon Hill CMS cross-site linking
 

For efficiency and brand identity reasons, it is better that multiple people can manage multiple websites from the same system. Adding Sites to the Cascade Server system enables HH users segment and manage content relative to a particular website. And one of the ways it does this is through cross-site linking.

Cross-site linking gives users a number of different ways to manage links in content. The different options available depend on the kind of asset being used that will contain the link, the type of link needed, and the target asset for that link.

The WYSIWYG editor contains the linking buttons to create links in the pages, or assets. Developers will typically use specified link formats to create links in templates, files, pages, or blocks.

In Cascade 6.2, it is possible to create links in content to assets existing on different sites. This is particularly useful when linking between pages on different sites or when linking to centrally managed support assets like CSS and JavaScript files.

Template Sharing

The second major enhancement is Template Sharing across sites. This adds a complimentary level to the cross-site linking as it does the same thing with templates as the cross-links do with links.

In v6.2, it is now possible to share a single template across multiple sites for easy template management.

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Template creation interface
 

This is done by selecting a template for use in a Page Configuration where there is a Site drop-down menu that allows users to switch between Sites to which they have access

Links will be resolved in one of three ways depending on how they are constructed:

  • relative to the Site in which, the template is located
  • relative to the Site on which the template is destined for
  • based on the Site name and path specified in the template

This will effectively allow administrators and mangers centrally control the design and application of templates across an entire array of sites and do away with the laborious manual changing that has been necessary to date.

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Cascade Server v6.2 administrator interface
 

Velocity engine

This new release also comes with upgrades to the Velocity Engine, which was originally introduced by HH with v5.7.

In v5.7, Cascade introduced Script Formats that used the Velocity engine to transform XML in regions as alternative to XSLT Formats. In Cascade 6.2, new utilities to the Velocity context make Script Formats a more viable alternative to XSLT Formats.

Script Formats are used to transform data from an XML document into an XML document that can be presented in a meaningful manner, using Velocity Template Language syntax. Velocity is a procedural language and should be familiar to people with PHP, Perl and Python experience.

Further Enhancements

Although cross-site linking, template sharing and the Velocity Engine enhancements are the major changes; there are other improvements worth noting too:

  • Site Dashboard improvements with the ability to set Content Wizards and Starting Pages on the Dashboard for each Site
  • Folder copy improvements where when copying folders, links to assets within the folder are now updated to point to the copied assets.

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Workflow interface
 

Hannon Hill’s Cascade Server Users conference this year is in about two months at the end of September.

While it will be interesting to see what the feedback from users is going to be in relation to these upgrades, this version has shown that two months is a long time in content management.

Could be that by then we’re talking about something entirely different by that stage?