I remember having told several Macromedia marketing and product managers visiting me during their European tours that their future in web software was with content producers, not just web designers. That was five years ago at least.
With their new Web Publishing System, they seem to be going this road now. WPS looks like a marketing wrapper for the following tools:
- Studio MX 2004 -- a full creative suite for designing web sites. Aimed at technically skilled web designers
- FlashPaper 2 -- Macromedia's response to Adobe Acrobat, which now becomes usable because it produces... PDF files! (not just Flash). Aimed at content producers
- Contribute 3 and Contribute Publishing Services -- see below for a more detailed explanation. Aimed at content producers
Contribute 3 is an upgrade to its cross-platform, lightweight web publishing desktop application that was introduced some 18 months ago. I keep a close eye on desktop software as I still believe they're the future of content management, and seeing Macromedia continuing the development of Contribute (and furthermore with good support for Mac OS X) is a good sign.
Contribute can be seen as a trimmed-down version of Dreamweaver, Macromedia's flagship HTML editor, targeted to non technical people who need to manage their content, not fiddle with technology. At that, IMHO, it does the job pretty well as being one of the best WYSIWYG tools out there, as opposed to the vast majority of WYSIFUC ones.
I've not tested version 3 yet, but I'm happy to see that they've added a few Mac OS X features: use of WebKit (refered to as "Safari technology"), the ability to easily include QuickTime movies, integration with .Mac (consequence of supporting WebDAV as one of the connection protocols), and FlashPaper with PDF capabilities (which was previously Windows-only and still ships separately on Windows).
Contribute Publishing Services seems to be an add-on to Contribute that provides central administration (hooks on enterprise LDAP and Active directories) and tracking of user access and publishing activities on the website. You can live without it, managing users manually on a site-per-site basis.
The CMS market continues to shift from complex and expensive gas plants to down-to-hearth, get-the-job-done, affordable tools. And this is a very good thing.