The challenges of unified content v1.0


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A look at the challenges and benefits of delivering unified content within the public sector.

Presentation originally given by Matt J (@mhj_work) at UK GovCamp 2011

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  • Users automatically think about content as being a “page” (as proved by the way eChannels people are hooking content items directly to the IA)No previewWorkflow, security, archiving are all really hard in a multi-tenanted environment (ie. retiring a piece of content in location A doesn’t mean it should be retired in location B..)In more general terms, I think there is some concern that we are re-inventing the wheel, CMS-wise
  • The challenges of unified content v1.0

    1. 1. The Challenges of Unified Content<br />GovCamp 2011<br />Matt Johnson, Eduserv<br />
    2. 2. In the beginning was the hand-crafted Web<br />1994: HTML 2 (draft), browser-specific tags<br />First UK (non-academic) websites<br />
    3. 3. We started reusing common content…<br />1995: Server Side Includes gain traction<br />1996: Server-side scripting (including ASP)<br />
    4. 4. …and separating content and presentation<br />1997: CSS v1 published by W3C<br />Very limited browser support (Netscape 3)<br />
    5. 5. Then the rise of the CMS…<br />2002: Adoption of custom CMS within government<br />Basic page-based functionality<br />
    6. 6. …and more content-presentation separation<br />2009: Content-based CMS widely available<br />Web-standards support (RDF, HTML5, CSS3)<br />
    7. 7. Public sector websites at the start of 2011<br />Predominantly CMS-driven (both CoTS and OSS)<br />Page-based content editing<br />Hierarchical Information Architecture<br />Accessible (mostly), but not always usable<br />Growing problem of content archiving / “findability”<br />Content is mostly held within departmental websites<br />RSS (and now RDF) offer a partial sharing solution<br />DirectGov an attempt to centralise some content<br />Is there an alternative approach?<br />
    8. 8. One concept: Unified Content Platform<br />One store of information<br />Content + Metadata<br />Workflow and versioning<br />Many delivery endpoints<br />Websites & CMS integration<br />RESTful API with RDF / XML outputs<br />
    9. 9. The benefits of unified content…<br />True separation of content and presentation/delivery<br />Content authors do not determine URIs<br />Web teams define site structure and appearance<br />Dynamic site architecture<br />Content is delivered based on associated metadata <br />Content can appear in multiple places<br />Content reuse<br />Content is open and accessible<br />Machine-readability (almost) out-of-the-box<br />
    10. 10. …and the drawbacks<br />Content authoring is different<br />Users are used to thinking in pages, not articles…<br />…and don’t like the lack of control…<br />…hence the demand for in-context visual previews<br />Multi-tenancy complexities<br />Workflow integration with shared content<br />Security and permissions need standardisation<br />Common templates & vocabularies are needed<br />Requires replacement of existing systems<br />
    11. 11. So how about a Unified Data Platform…<br />Shared<br />Platform<br />Full CMS<br />interface<br />Data<br />Store<br />Dept ..<br />CMS<br />Dept A<br />CMS<br />Dept B<br />CMS<br />3rd party<br />Content<br />Editor<br />API<br />Simple<br />interface<br />Author<br />Author<br />Author<br />Users<br />Users<br />Unified Data Platform<br />
    12. 12. …offering the possibilities of a hybrid model<br />Gives the best of both worlds<br />Traditional structures for regular website content<br />Metadata driven structures for data collections<br />Ease of integration<br />With existing CMS / content services<br />Could build on the model<br />(Relatively) simple to deliver<br />Most of this already exists<br />Provides a platform for transparency<br />
    13. 13. Finally, some things to think about<br />Is truly “unified” content desirable…<br />…do public sector want and/or need to share content?<br />If so, how much is that worth (effort, money)?<br />How much appetite is there for standardisation…<br />Different for content and data?<br />…are sector-wide content templates a possibility?<br />Can we agree on standard APIs / interfaces?<br />Who are the trailblazers?<br />
    14. 14. Questions?<br />Matt Johnson<br />Head of Research<br /> email:<br /> twitter: @mhj_work<br /> web:<br />