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Product Review: Gnews Publisher
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by Anand Narayanaswamy
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Introduction

Creating and managing a content driven website is a tough task for web developers. The site should not only be updated regularly with new content but also should be easy to manage. Moreover, the old contents should be stored in specific categories/sections so that they can be viewed at any time. There are lots of readymade software solutions available on the web. While many of them are built using PHP under open source license, some of them are developed using ASP and ASP.NET. Even though ASP has been taken over by ASP.NET, many developers are still interested in using ASP since the pages executes at a bit higher speed than .NET based systems.

Gazatem Technologies has developed a light weight ASP based content management system oriented for article and news publishing named Gnews Publisher - Positive with which users, even beginners, can publish content in a short span of time. I tested its positive edition and it only provides the facility to add articles and does not contain any confusing modules and plug-ins like other products. However, it can also be used for posting news and press releases.

Installation

The vendor supplies the product in ZIP format with all the required files along with a comprehensive documentation in PDF format. Gnews is compatible with both MS Access and SQL Server2000/2005. I tested the product using both Access and SQL Server and it worked as expected without any difficulties. Moreover, the product is initially loaded with blank data and hence there is no need to delete any default content as found in other content management systems.

Tour and Recommendations

In order to use the product, you should first create a category and post an article under it. For this purpose, you should login as an administrator by using the default username and password supplied by the vendor. You will see a page as shown below

Figure 1

As you can see you can easily create and manage categories, articles by clicking the appropriate links. I have added few articles to the system. Otherwise, you will not find any content. You can add/modify/delete categories by selecting Categories link. You can also change the order of them by making use of Up and Down buttons.

Figure 2

Moreover, you can also nest categories. For instance, you can add a category named Trackballs inside Mouse category. The product comes with a rich text box editor for posting content and articles. I also found that expiry dates for articles can be set only up to the year 2010. I would suggest the vendor to provide a facility with which editors can publish unexpired content as it will be tedious to change the expiry dates of each posted article after 2010.

Figure 3

An interesting feature of the product is that you can grab RSS feeds from external sites and display them as individual articles either on the home page or inside the relevant categories.

Figure 4

We have added the fee URL of ASPalliance.com site and filed it under ASPAlliance category. In order to display the article, you should Grab RSS by selecting the Grab Feeds link from the administration section. You can then view the articles on the home page of the site as shown below

Figure 5

The product only displays the abstract along with a redirection link to the original article. I feel that you can display latest articles relevant to your site from various sources under different categories using this feature.

The product also includes a statistics manager with which you can view the number of hits to various pages of your site. You can also send newsletters to the members registered on the site. The welcome and password remainder emails can be customized from the settings area as shown below

Figure 6

The administration area also includes an option to compact and repair the database. However, this feature is applicable only if you use MS Access as the database. I would suggest the vendor to introduce automatic truncation of database from within the administration area for the benefit of customers using SQL Server as backend database.

A complete listing of all features of the product can be viewed at http://www.gazatem.com/products/gnewsPositive.asp#features. The vendor has also posted few sample sites where the product is used along with demos of both the front end and the administration system so that prospective customers can test drive the features completely before ordering the product.

Conclusion

I have found that content management systems developed using ASP load much faster than any other technologies even though its features are limited. Gnews Publisher is versatile, perfect and ideal for websites loaded with content.

About the Product

Title

Gnews Publisher - Positive Edition

Price

$144.95

Related URL

http://www.gazatem.com 

Rating

****

About the Reviewer

Anand Narayanaswamy (Microsoft MVP and Chief Technical Editor, ASPAlliance.com) is the author of Community Server Quickly.

 


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