Metadata in Content Management – Part 2

Originally posted by Troy Allen on CMSWire on January 10, 2011. 

Abstract: The following article has been split between two parts. Part two continues to provide an overview of Metadata in Content Management. 

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Dublin Core is a Common Model for Content Management

For traditional corporate Content Management, many organizations adopt a version of the Dublin Core model which is one of the most well known and established standards. The essence of the Dublin Core states that content will be described by metadata that:

  • Address Functional Requirements – The main repository or any application that connects to the repository for managed content will be performing specific tasks. Metadata should be constructed to address these functions. As an example, content may be called from a Web App which may have certain search and security requirements.
  • Develop A Domain Model – A domain model is a description of the things the metadata model will describe and the relationship between those things such as a person or author is described by a name, location and email address.
  • Define Metadata Terms – Metadata terms are the properties that describe the things in the model. For example, a press release would have a title, release date, author and topic. An author can have a name, location or address and email address.
  • When designing a model using this approach, there are many dependencies that need to be addressed and it can be difficult to keep them organized. Before an organization begins to build their model, the following guidelines can help to keep this manageable and usable:
  • Minimize the number of metadata fields for a type of content – When users are presented with a large number of fields that they have to enter data into, they will find ways to avoid filling them out. Users are usually in a hurry and just want to get their files into a repository. Make their tasks more streamlined by only asking them to fill out a few important fields.
  • Avoid “Nice to have” fields – Organizations can easily fall into the trap of having too much data describing their content that isn’t need or will rarely be used. For example, I had a customer once who wanted a metadata field for capturing the font type used within the managed document. Since the customer was not a “Publishing House”, there was no need to store this data and it would have just been an extra field for the end-user to fill out.
  • Create a Global set of fields – Every department within an organization will have specific metadata requirements for their own business needs, but there should be a well defined set of cross-organization fields that any user can search on to find content.
  • Use Pre-defined lists when possible – Free form metadata fields are notorious for user error and poor searching.

The following is an example of building a Metadata model, loosely derived from the Dublin Core methods and keeping the above guidelines in mind:

Metadata Model for Managed Email Repository

Requirements: Allow users to search for emails based on standard email attributes in addition to priority classifications. Require users to supply pertinent metadata values during check-in procedures to ensure search ability.  

Domain Model: Managed Object – Emails

  • Content Type – Email
  • Responsible Parties
    • Sender
    • Recipient
  • Priority
    • Level
    • Type

Metadata Terms and Fields:

  • Content Type – Emails (Auto Selected)
  • Receive Date – (Date Field)
  • Sent Date – (Date Field)
  • Subject – (free form field)
  • Sender – (free form field)
  • Recipient – (free form field)
  • Priority Type – (predefined list)
  • Value 1 – General Correspondence
  • Value 2 – Legal Correspondence
  • Value 3 – Sales Correspondence
  • Value 4 – Human Resource Correspondence
  • Priority Level – (Predefined list)
    • Value 1 – No action required
    • Value 2 – Immediate action required
    • Value 3 – Management action required

Final Thoughts

For an organization which will manage many different types of content within the repository, each content type might have its own structure. Mapping out the requirements, domain and terms will help to keep information organized, allow administrators to see duplicate fields, and asses what is absolutely needed and what is extra data that is being stored. Modeling like this can take anywhere from a week to several months depending on the size of the application(s) involved, type of data being managed and size of the organization.

Gap Between Creation and Management – Part 2

Originally posted by Troy Allen on CMSWire on December 14, 2010. 

Abstract: The following article has been split between two parts. Part two continues to provide details on techniques to bridge the gap between creation and management.

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In an Ideal World, Integration Would be Seamless

A lot still needs to be done in order to bridge the gap between creation and management when it comes to rich media files. An ideal solution would include a DAM product that is designed to integrate with the creation product’s management applications.

Users should be able to store a graphic in a repository, call it into a creation project, share it with other users on that project and be notified when that graphic is updated.The person updating the graphic should be able to perform a search to see all compositions that are using the file so that the artist knows the impact of editing the graphic.

While working in a tool such as Adobe Photoshop, a user should be able to navigate to a file system, to Adobe’s Version Cue or to an enterprise DAM repository like Oracle’s Enterprise Content Management to find the elements required to complete a composition.The user should then be able to store that composition in a DAM repository so that other users can use that same composition as an element in another project.

There have been limited co-development efforts between DAM producers and creative tool designers. Until true integration happens, organizations will have to work within the boundaries of the product or design their own solutions to get the best out of their resources.

Suggestions for Bridging the Gap Between Creation and Management

Companies need all the capabilities that the creative packages provide along with the extended functionality of DAM solutions. As demand drives efforts to bridge the gap between creation and management and as organizations and users become more sophisticated, both management and creation products will have to adapt to keep pace.Until then, here are some points that can help bridge the gap:

  • Store all individual elements within a DAM repository. Have the DAM system configured for subscription services to notify users when new elements are added and updated, enable workflow process for approval and validation and apply security to match content utilization across the user community. Even though most DAM and creative applications are not integrated, users can still search the DAM system to find the elements they need, record in the elements DAM metadata record what project or compilation the element is being used for, and download a copy for use in the current project.When the compilation is finished, store it in the DAM system for future reuse and workflows.
  • Utilize the built in work-streams of the creative tools. As elements are downloaded from the DAM, store them within the project of the creative tool. Periodically review notifications from the DAM system and update the project when elements are updated.
  • Try to maintain a single trusted file for any element within the DAM system. Refrain from simply storing elements on a shared file system or sending them to project members via email. Having a single and validated source of an element can help to increase consistency and reduce the time spent finding items needed to complete compositions.
  • Take the time, either with your own resources or with assistance from external consulting firms, to truly understand how your content creators work. The first step into maximizing any process requires fully understanding how people perform the tasks. Automate what needs to be automated and reduce the time spent on finding the things your creators need by increasing the enterprise search functionality.

In the corporate world where rich media files are used as individual objects or as compilations, it is important to manage them efficiently. By combining creation tools with digital asset management, companies can reduce production times, make the processes more efficient and increase productivity.

Even though the gap between creation and management still exists, it is getting smaller. Companies can find the solutions they need for their particular process by combining creation and management and using creative solutions — either that the company themselves create or one provided by external consultants.

There is no complete of the shelf solution for every process, but with a little ingenuity, a solution can be devised.


Content Management (UCM) Metadata Profiles Part 2

Originally posted by Troy Allen on CMSWire on May 11, 2011.

Abstract: The following article has been split between two parts. Part two continues to provide an overview of utilizing Metadata Profiles within the Oracle WebCenter Content (formally known as Oracle UCM Server).

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A New Approach to Unleash the Power

While working on a few of my most recent projects, I’ve started taking a different approach to metadata modeling for Document-centric applications of the Oracle UCM. By working from the outside-in, a model can be built that better drives the user experience.

The following is a simple guideline for building a metadata model without having to waste all of those sticky notes stuck to the wall. While this is specific to the Oracle UCM, it could be modified for other content management applications.

Metadata by Sticky Notes

Source 1 – StickySorter Free from OfficeLabs published Novermber 28, 2008 by

Step 1. Determine the types of content that will need unique metadata options. Examples of these may include Marketing, Finance, IT, and Compliance. Content may also have special needs based on the formatting of the content such as images or video files.

Step 2. Create a usage modeling spreadsheet and layout the required fields for each type and what the optional fields will be; include notes on how the field will be used or specific criteria for the fields:

Step 3. Insert all required and optional metadata fields into the Configuration Manager or Metadata tool (note that some fields may already exist as system metadata fields).

Step 4. Determine which metadata field will be used to drive the profiles. It is best to use something like ProfileTrigger.

Step 5. Create Rules for Global Required fields and for Profile-specific required fields.

Step 6. Create Rules for Profile-specific Optional metadata and include any special field handling requirements gathered from usage modeling:

Step 7. Create Profiles for the specific types of content that require different screens and add the appropriate rules:

Step 8. Test the new profiles and validate with the end users.

Final Thoughts

Profiles within Oracle’s UCM allows administrators to create better interfaces for their users while improving the systems capabilities around the metadata it collects for each managed object. If a user is presented with too many fields or has to put too much thinking into the tasks of checking in content or searching for it, they will find ways not to use the system.



Oracle Focuses on WebCenter Sites (Formerly FatWire)

Originally posted by Troy Allen on CMSWire on September 19, 2011. 

Abstract: Oracle’s acquisition of FatWire demonstrates a determination to continue expanding Oracle’s WebCenter family of products while providing an organized and integrated set of tools.

FatWire AND Oracle UCM’s Web Content Management?

I was fortunate enough to attend a partner conference at Oracle’s headquarters in Redwood Shores, California, just prior to the announcement of the re-branding WebCenter product launch. Our meeting focused on Oracle’s vision purpose behind the rebranding and grouping of their portal, content management, web content management and enterprise social applications. During the meeting, we were presented with Oracle’s already published pending acquisition of FatWire (which has since been re-branded to WebCenter Sites).

Grouping these technologies together into a single family of products makes total sense and will definitely make it easier for Oracle’s customers in navigating the wealth of solutions that Oracle offers, but I was perplexed as to why they added FatWire to their family.

I was a former Stellent employee and, along with the company, came into Oracle through an acquisition in early 2007. During my time at Stellent, and in the few years after that while at Oracle, the content management team had a view that if we were competing in a deal with FatWire for content management or for web content management, one of us was in the wrong deal. Our perception of FatWire was that it was a niche product to create and manage “Brochure-ware” website. In fact, it was very rare that Stellent/Oracle ECM competed against FatWire.

FatWire Complements the Stellant/Oracle ECM Suite

During the meeting, we were presented with a very good overview of FatWire’s suite of products, and I was impressed. I began to understand why Oracle made an offer to them. The Enterprise Content Management suite from Stellent/Oracle (now called WebCenter Content) has always been focused on helping companies to gain control of unstructured content and truly manage the content’s lifecycle. It had a web content management portion of the suite that allowed organizations to create dynamic websites to share content with partners, customers and the World Wide Web in general. WCM was always focused around presenting and sharing very document-centric websites. It also provided an industrial strength approach to supporting portal-based applications with content.

FatWire, on the other hand, had always taken the approach of creating, managing and publishing business-user savvy websites focused on informing targeted audiences. It also included a content management application to support the websites it created and managed. Sales cycles for FatWire were more business-oriented where the Oracle ECM suite was more technology-driven. The FatWire product was specifically designed to allow organizations to create and manage intuitive websites for informing targeted audiences rather than just providing a framework for sharing documents to potential consumers.

In speaking with Oracle’s Product Management, Sales Management and technical resources since the official acquisition of FatWire and formal release of the WebCenter re-branding, it is clear that Oracle understands the strengths of WebCenter Content (Stellent/Oracle ECM) and WebCenter Sites (FatWire) and how they complement each other.

The overall vision is simple in nature and very logical; WebCenter Sites is the front door to an organization. It creates rich and robust informational websites without the heavy IT support overhead of some of its competitors. WebCenter Portal (formally WebCenter Suite) is the information infrastructure which allows organizations to create highly functional intranets and extranets where users can interact, communicate, transact and share information. WebCenter Content is the enterprise foundation of information that supports not only the WebCenter products, but Oracle Applications as well.

New Doors and Opportunities

Oracle’s excitement over the FatWire acquisition is well founded. In my own consulting activities, I look forward to introducing the WebCenter Sites technology to customers and helping them to establish it as an entry point to a robust infrastructure that supports all their business requirements. From creating informational sites that easily direct users to interactive and transactional portal sites, to sharing content inside and outside of the organization, Oracle WebCenter opens new doors for Oracle and unlocks growth and opportunity for Oracle’s customers.

Oracle’s WebCenter family of products represents a truly organized and integrated set of tools designed to support all of an organization’s information and communication requirements.


Gap Between Creation and Management

Originally posted by Troy Allen on CMSWire on December 14, 2010. 

Abstract: This article provides an overview of gaps between creation and management within organizations. Also, will provide suggestions on how to bridge this gap between tools used for creation and management techniques 

When people think about creating new digital assets, products like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Flash, Avid Media Composer or Sound Forge Pro are the professional’s first choice — depending on the task at hand. Many of these products include a workflow management application which allows users to create projects, share files and apply some level of versioning to the files. Unfortunately however, not all products work together during the creation process.

The Divide Between Asset Creation and Asset Management

Asset elements are often used by many different users in various applications to compose a finished project. Video files are a prime example of this where graphics, copy text, photographs, video files, 3D effects and sound files are created individually in separate applications and then brought together to create a final product.

Corporate videos will usually include files that have been used elsewhere such as in correspondences, websites, print advertisements and internal documentation.

While having the ability to manage files and share assets within a suite of products has improved efficiencies and time to market, there are still gaps when it comes to managing the asset elements and compositions for re-use for future editing.

Sena Systems

The same graphics from Sena’s website are also used with other publications such as this example banner:


In both of these examples, the corporate logo came is from a company approved pool of images. The graphic of the two men is from an approved set of backgrounds and two unique fonts — Pirulen and JaneAusten — were used in the banner but not in the website.

3 Ways to Manage Assets

Each of these individual elements can be managed within a traditional DAM system, managed locally by a specific user, managed by a creation product’s utilities or simply saved on the file system. With each of these methods, there are inherent benefits and problems:

—-End of Part 1, please continue to Gap Between Creation and Management Part 2

Content Management System or The Portal

Originally posted by Troy Allen on CMSWire on April 18, 2011.  The following article has been updated from its posting.  It has also been posted on Oracle’s WebCenter Blog.

Today software companies are combining Content Management and Portal applications into a single service. This combination allows for a more insightfull and detailed approach when presenting information to users. In the past, portal products have had some kind of content store embedded within them, but were never designed as enterprise level content management applications. Content Management applications which provided Web Content Management claimed to provide some Portal-like capabilities, but were never meant to be a true portal replacement.

In years past, there was a clear process for implementing the strategy: approach it from either the CMS first or Portal first position. Because of the strong inter-dependencies between the two technologies, administrators and developers are at odds over where to start. So which is the chicken and which is the egg? Which one comes first?

Chicken or Egg

The CMS or the Portal?

The answer is, neither. Today, businesses are able to purchase a suite of technologies that provide the best of both worlds like the Oracle WebCenter suite of products; now the problem is how to deploy them in a meaningful and functional fashion. Typical solutions utilize the portal as the front-end engine with the content management application hidden safely behind the scenes as the repository for all forms of content being presented through the portal.

However, today’s technologies bring added complexity with the need to include security, business intelligence tools, caching solutions and integrations to other application sets. It is more important than ever to understand the function the entire solution will provide and what the overall goals of the implementation will address.

The following example could be any company’s public website. In this case, TechWidgets wants to provide both their customers and partners with a single interface for reviewing products, finding out about all the services that are offered, what is available for potential partners, and providing access to functions such as ordering, quote requests, sales and more. If TechWidgets were an actual company, they would need to determine all the functions and capabilities for their online application and create a roadmap for the final solution.


Evaluating the Options for a Portal/CMS App

In evaluating a Portal/Content management application, companies should be able to address the following basic questions (which will help to determine the design and implementation approach):

  • What is the basic function of the solution (the following are examples of common Public facing sites)?
    • Targeted Content — an example of this might be a membership driven portal where data is presented to the user based upon profile information or a product(s) site.
    • Sales and Commerce — these types of applications drive revenue through sales and are application rich environments with shopping carts, sales processing, discounts and rebates, and product information.
    • Knowledge Sharing — This may be a self-service knowledge base for registered and unregistered users which may tie into a trouble ticketing system
  • What are the Security requirements?
    • Some applications may be based on light-weight security that delivers content based on profile information rather than true access controls.
    • Some applications will require Single Sign-On support to other applications being presented through the portal. A knowledge management or support portal may need to log the user into other back-end systems while providing content that is strictly controlled based on specific criteria.
    • Some product and brochure sites may be purely unrestricted repositories for information that all users can search for or navigate to.
  • What applications will be presented through the Portal?
    • Many companies are looking to provide ERP, Sales, Campaign Management and customer/partner support applications through a consolidated interface.
    • Many companies have written custom applications which need to be shared with the public.
    • More often than not, companies are embracing Social Media applications like Face Book, Twitter and Share. It is often desired to have these applications lined directly to content and functional areas of a portal.

Due to the level of dependencies each of these topics has on each other; it is no longer possible to build a web solution in silos. Administrators and developers must map cross-functionality, understand the dependencies and create parallel paths for designing, developing, testing and deploying the final product. With that in mind, it is no wonder that companies have a hard time finding a starting point.

What Comes First?

The following plan can provide a good overall strategy for taking on such a daunting task:

  1. Define the Business Requirements
    Understanding what you are trying to accomplish should always be the first step. Often, I see companies that have decided to “deploy a portal” without understanding the purpose behind it. By defining requirements around Functions, Content, Applications, Security and Administration, organizations can refine a manageable set of objectives for the web application.
  2. Create a wire frame walk through
    Consider why a movie director creates a storyboard: a progression of simple sketches of key points and actor interactions gives the actors and crew a visual “map,” which organizes actor positions, camera angles, as well as providing a condensed version of the story. In essence, it’s an outline which allows organization of needs in a simple, cost-effective manner. A wireframe or story board of the “day in the life” of the different types of users helps companies organize the requirements of their users, and also discern interrelationships of function, security and application that are needed within their own system. They say a picture paints a thousand words. Being able to describe the aspects of any given page and any given section within that page will also help find logical discrepancies between the Business Requirements that were created and help to solidify what is really necessary.
  3. Map the Technologies
    With the Business Requirements and Wireframes in hand, it is easier to determine what technologies will be needed to support the requirements. Companies will need to build compatibility matrixes between the different technologies that meet the Web Application’s needs while ensuring that integrations are possible and supportable. Look for companies that already provide integrated solutions. It is often better to choose a suite of products that provide 80% of the requirement’s functionality and add the remaining 20% through 3rd party applications, then to assemble the system from scores of products from different companies.
  4. Define the Infrastructure
    With the required technologies outlined, organizations can now start to build out the infrastructure requirements to support the application. They can define and assess what type of servers, operating systems, storage devices, hosting facilities (if going with a Cloud based solution), and networking requirements are needed. It is often best to try to re-use existing infrastructure when possible.
  5. Create a blueprint
    Now that the Requirements have been gathered, wireframes established, technologies decided upon and an infrastructure has been outlined, it is time to do parallel analysis of each section of the overall application. Analysis will help to draw out further requirements, streamline the application flow and provide a solid foundation of information for the actual design of the system.
  6. Design the application
    With the overall application’s vision clearly defined, architects can start to design the integration, infrastructure, and application elements that will bring the overall system to live. It is recommended that proofs of concepts be made between application integration points. Design process should include a method for editing both the requirements and the application walk through or wire frame. Conceptual testing and validation within the design stage will help to eliminate wasted development tasks caused by unrealistic expectations.
  7. Build the solution
    As mentioned, good analysis and thorough design work helps prevent extra time in development. With all the puzzle pieces together and instructions on how they fit into a cohesive image, it is time to build out the security models, metadata models, look and feel, application integration points and code required for the application. While most organizations go through a User Acceptance Testing (UAT) process, it is preferable to test often as you go through the development period. Unit testing should be a required part of any development task. Additionally, don’t skimp on the documentation. It is one thing to build an application as quickly as possible, it’s entirely a different story to keep it running when all the developers are gone and no one understand how it was put together. Taking the extra time to document the development process will save time and headaches when it is rolled out to production and has to be maintained.
    For very complex applications like a company portal, there are so many moving parts that it is easy to miss a problem. Create a well-defined test plan for each aspect of the site and make sure that it is tested in every conceivable way. Remember, the portal is the world’s view into your organization. How well it works can be a huge deciding factor on whether or not someone does business with you. It is common for testing to take as long, and in some cases, longer, as the development cycle.
  9. Go Live
    All the work has been done, the site has been thoroughly tested, and now it is ready for the world to see it. Make a production out of it, externally AND internally. You’ve worked hard to roll out your portal application and you should be proud to show it off. Create a media campaign and press releases to give it exposure. Have a team party for a job well done. And now that the work is done, get ready to maintain it and start gathering information from the users on how to make it even better and more efficient. Portals never stop growing. Well-designed portals lend themselves to continued enhancements in order to better facilitate both internal stake-holders and external users. Make sure that you provide a way to gather feedback so that that you have a good foundation of requirements for the portal’s next phase growth.

Oracle WebCenter and other Oracle Technologies Make it easier.

As mentioned in the original article I posted, many companies are combining Content Management and Portal technologies as a suite of products to provide a complete solution.  Oracle’s continued focus on providing integrated platforms to solve real business requirements is showcased very well in the WebCenter suite of products.  By providing Content Management (WebCenter Content), Web Experience Management (WebCenter Sites), Enterprise Portals (WebCenter Portal), and Enterprise Social and Collaboration services (WebCenter Connect), Oracle is providing a platform that allows business users, administrators, developers, and consultants to orchestrate meaningful online business experiences.  These applications leverage (and are leveraged by) many of the other Oracle products allowing organizations to maximize on their investment while reducing overall cost of ownership.

Because the WebCenter technologies fit so well together, the tasks of Mapping the Technologies is simplified, Defining the Infrastructure is streamlined, Designing the Application is more intuitive, and Building the Solution is more straightforward.