will release Contribute will for Mac OS X on July 28.
Contribute is a desktop application designed to provide an easy-to-use way for non-technical users to update Web pages and add pages to existing Web sites, Product Manager Erik Larson told MacCentral. Webmasters can control what sections of a site people can edit, they can automatically lock out all server code on a page, and more, while end users can’t change something they don’t understand.
Individuals and teams can update, add and publish content to existing Web sites without knowing HTML. With Macromedia Contribute 2, you can update any HTML Web site — including ones built in Dreamweaver, FrontPage, or even by hand — without affecting the quality of existing HTML code.
“You can browse through a Web site, click the edit control, make changes, and publish back to the Web,” Larson said. “There are administrative controls so administrators can control who can change what. The whole goal is to keep Web sites up to date and reduce costs and inefficiencies.”
Built with “non-technical” folks in mind, Contribute is a compliment to Macromedia’s Dreamweaver Web developer tool, and isn’t meant to replace products such as FrontPage, he added. It’s not for building Web sites from scratch, but for working with existing ones to update their content.
Version 1.0 of Contribute was a big hit. Over 100,000 units have been sold to 65,000-plus customers. Many of those customers have bought multiple units — some as many as 300 — for distributing to members of large organizations, Larson said. While there are big companies such as FedEx using Contribute, it’s been even more popular in such areas as education, small to medium sized businesses, and local governments.
“In Contribute 3.0, we’ll expand to enterprise level scalability,” Larson said. “Right now we’re growing in a Johnny Appleseed-like way.”
He says much of Contribute’s success to its integration with the popular Dreamweaver product. Both share the same template technology and such features as “check-in,” “check-out,” and versioning systems. Of course, the big news in the upcoming version (2.0) is support for Mac OS X and Apple’s .Mac subscription service.
“The product looks awesome on Mac OS X,” Larson said. “We drew inspiration from Apple’s iLife product line as far as ease of use and user-friendliness. A lot of our users develop on the Mac, so this was a natural progression for us.”
With Contribute 2.0’s .Mac integration, it will automatically detect and connect to existing .Mac accounts. However, it doesn’t yet work with HomePage — Apple’s entry level Web site development tool for .Mac subscribers — but templates for just this purpose are in the works, Larson said.
Contribute 2.0 also improves performance with a wider range of network and server environments. Macromedia has rebuilt the way the application connects to Web servers, offering things such as “persistent connections.” In other words, Contribute will automatically reconnect if a network fails.
Trying to connect through a firewall to a temperamental Web server in Russia while on a dial up connection in the middle of Kansas? No problem with Contribute 2’s third generation site connection system, Larson said. It’s based on a new high performance, threaded architecture with file caching.
“We’ve also made sure that Contribute is as stable and fast as possible,” Larson said. “It’s up to 10 to 15 times faster. The slower your Internet connection and the slower your server, the more of a performance boost you’ll notice.”
The update also has more security features (SFTP and password protection) and support for the PayPal e-Commerce system, which lets customers send money to anyone with e-mail.
“We’ve entered into a partnership with PayPal so you can incorporate their shopping cart technology into your Web site,” Larson said. “You have to have a PayPal account (which is free), but it only takes about 30 seconds to add the payment system to your Web site.”
The point and click of the new Paypal Merchant Tools in Contribute 2 let any small business owner accept credit cards online by simply adding a payment button to their pages. There’s an optional wizard-based system for adding Buy Now buttons and Shopping Cart functionality.
Also new in version 2.0 is product activation, more flexibility for paying customers (the trial and full version are the same so you don’t have to re-download and reinstall another version after test driving the demo), and an expanding licensing agreement (a customer now has licensing rights to use Contribute on two separate systems). The ability to transfer a license from one computer to another has also been simplified. Contribute for Mac OS X will include Opera Software’s Opera browser as the embedded browser.
Contribute 2.0 does have a couple of features, such as FlashPaper Web Document Publishing, that aren’t yet Mac compatible. But they will be available in a future version, Larson said. FlashPaper lets Contribute 2 users transform any printable document into a compact, Web-friendly, fast loading Flash format that can be embedded as an intrinsic part of any Web page).
Contribute 2 will cost $99 per copy. It will also be available in five and 10 unit value packs for $399 and $749, respectively. Educational pricing is $79 per unit. Volume and government pricing is also available.