Contribute CS3 review
VERDICT: Handy way to devolve content contribution to non-expert users, but there’s little here that’s new.
When it was first introduced Contribute was a radical and exciting development in web authoring as it enabled non-expert users to safely update a website’s content without risking breaking its design...
However, as the previous Contribute 4 was only launched at the beginning of the year, it would be unfair to expect similar fireworks this time around.
In fact the vast majority of new capabilities are simply tweaks to the support that Contribute 4 added for updating blogs as well as websites, such as the ability to connect to blog servers by URL, support for the Roller blog service, the ability to select multiple categories and trackbacks and an option to preview your blog entry in a browser before posting. If you’re not interested in blogs - which of course are already designed to be simple to contribute to - then the cupboard is pretty bare. Authorised users can now add HTML snippets to their pages and you can use the bundled version of Bridge CS3 to add assets through simple drag-and-drop. With new support for Acrobat PDF and Flash video FLV files this makes it possible for contributors to add richer-than-ever content. In practice though only a fraction of Contribute’s target audience of inexpert and occasional users is likely to take advantage.
This is the real problem for Adobe and the real reason why each new release of Contribute after the first has seemed increasingly lacklustre. Adobe can’t add advanced new features to Contribute in the same way as it does for the other CS3 applications because the program’s whole purpose is to make updating site content as simple as possible. For most users it already does this successfully, and any unused new capabilities end up detracting from rather than enhancing the overall package, meaning that there’s little reason to upgrade.
EASE OF USE 5/6
VALUE FOR MONEY 2/6
Tom Arah is the webmaster of designer-info.com. He has been a professional designer working with computer software since 1987. He also offers training and consultancy and since 1997 has been the contributing editor covering design issues for PC Pro, the UK's biggest-selling (and best) computer monthly.