Step aside CMIS for a few minutes, the new Web Experience Management Initiative (WEMI) needs a little attention. The first face-to-face meeting was recently held in Copenhagen and there were plenty of Web CMS vendors in attendance -- a sign that many are ready to play nice.

WEMI Re-explained

So what exactly is WEMI again? It's a new initiative within OASIS to identify a standard domain model and feature set for how content is aggregated and deployed across web experiences (this could be a website, a mobile device, a tablet, etc..).

There is finally recognition that a web content management system does not stand alone and that a true web experience (or customer experience) combines information, and sometimes functionality, from a number of different services, often including more than one content management system. The trouble is, everyone is currently building these integrations differently. Hopefully the WEM Initiative will bring some degree of commonality among systems.

This initiative is still in its start up phase, so don't expect to see too much coming out soon. It took the CMIS Technical Committee quite a while to come to agreement before it went public.

But, as work progresses, we will bring the ideas, concepts and information to you, sitting beside you trying to understand how it all will work and who will be among the first to apply it.

For now, here's a look at what happened in Copenhagen late last week. 

WEMI Face-to-Face

It was a who's who of Web Content Management. Representatives from the PHP (drupal, TYPO3), DOTNet (DotNetNuke, Sitecore, Telerik) and Java (Hippo, Liferay, Jahia, Magnolia, Adobe, Terminalfour, GX, SDL Tridion, Enonic). A few interesting vendors missing there, but there's still time to join the group and participate.


Frank van Lankvelt, Hippo Lead Developer and Secretary of the WEMI specification sent us this update:

At the Tivoli congress center in Kopenhagen, we agreed that CMSes are not islands. Environments become more and more heterogeneous; enterprises have more than one CMS, other systems need a mechanism to access the content in the structure of a web-site. There is no need for the plumbing to be implemented again and again. The WEMI standard will make it possible to focus on the business domain, rather than the technical task of integrating the components.

Having grown up in an agile open source world, a strong desire exists to keep the standard lightweight. The reference implementation and test suite, for example, will be developed in the open using the liberal Apache license. The specification itself follows the OASIS process, guaranteeing that there will be a number of iterations that can be evaluated by a wide audience.

We have all similar component-based rendering engines for the web, that are moving more and more to the client side. Borrowing HTML5 terminology, the content in these different sections on a page is addressable in the WEMI vision. Sections are represented in either HTML or JSON format, making it suitable for a wide range of use cases. Note that WEMI reuses established terminology where it makes sense.

A sitemap will be provided by WEMI-compatible services, making pages and sections discoverable. They can also delegate to other sitemaps, making the discovery scalable for dynamic or potentially large installations. A number of extension points, including context specification and query parameter discovery, have been put up for consideration.

Now that there is a rough consensus on (some?) parts of the protocol, it is time to take a step back and look around. See what we can learn or borrow from other specifications and how the proposal will change the world. The strong support from the WCM community guarantees interesting times for the Web.

Are You On Board with WEMI?

Here's a question to leave you with: Do you think this is a standard that we need? While CMIS seems to be somewhat widely implemented, it's still not always a check mark on the "must-have" list of requirements by organizations. Is too much time spent trying to find standard approaches to things that many organizations don't even ask for? Leave a comment below with your thoughts.