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Product Review: Article Manager Pro
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by Anand Narayanaswamy
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Introduction

Web Masters are on a hunt for a powerful Content Management System which can not only perform the job of content posting, editing, and display but also have a facility to generate revenue by showcasing advertisements from Google’s Adsense. Many of the existing applications are complex and require a lot of time to understand the various functions included with it. Moreover, you should insert the Adsense code while posting each article or follow certain complicated procedures to insert ads at various locations. Hence, there is a growing demand for a centralized application with which webmasters can plug-in the Adsense ID in a common place to display advertisements at relevant locations of the site and inside each article pages.

AlstraSoft's Article Manager Pro 1.6 is one of the powerful Google Adsense integrated PHP based Content/Article Management Systems. It enables you to post article, news, and press releases within minutes. The product can be downloaded in ZIP format from the secured customer area after supplying the username and password which you provided during registration. The installation package contains all the required product files and also some Goodies which I will explore later in this review.

Getting Started

In order to install the product you just need to upload the files to the root directory of your website and follow simple on screen instructions. You should also create a blank MySQL database and user for the purpose of installation. I tested the product on a web server running Linux. However, you can also install the product in Windows servers but for maximum compatibility the vendor recommends Linux. Moreover, granting of permissions using FTP clients is not possible in Windows which is required for the successful installation of the product.

The installation process creates the required tables and a sample article. I would suggest that you retain the sample article until you post an original article as the product throws an error message if there is no article on the database. I would recommend that the vendor modify the application to display a user friendly message rather than showing a database specific error. The vendor doesn’t provide any help files with the product, but if you spend some time inside the Admin Panel, then you will be well versed with the functions of each link as all of them are self explanatory.

Figure 1: Admin Panel Interface

As you can see, you can manage article, categories, users, newsletters, and common site settings from the Admin Panel.

Before posting an article, you should create relevant categories so that you can file each article under them. The categories can be either under the root or can be nested under an existing category with or without an image.

Figure 2: Category Creation

With the help of the product, you can create both the Normal and Link Articles depending upon your requirements. You also have an option to post the article to the featured articles section on the home page of the site by selecting the relevant option while posting the article. The product ships with a specially developed powerful rich text box editor.

Figure 3: Article Creation Interface

As you can see from the screenshot, you can insert images, tables, etc directly from the editor without any need to upload each file individually. The interface provides an option to keep an article in the pending stage if you have not finished it completely. In such a case, an administrator or those users who have special rights have to approve the articles using the Approve Article link. The articles can be modified at any time by using the Modify Article link. As your site grows, you will have dozens of articles posted on the site. The product includes a search function wherein you can give some keywords to pull relevant articles from the site.

 

I would suggest that you explore all the functions inside the Admin Panel as it will help you in the long run. I found the Newsletter feature very useful as it enables you to deliver emails to all the users (or authors) registered on the site. You can regularly download a backup copy of the database to your system by clicking Download SQL Backup link. It will help you to restore the site easily in case of a database crash.

Glossary keyword is one of the new features of version 1.6, and it enables you to associate a keyword with a web address (URL). If the specified keyword is found inside the articles then it will be hyperlinked to the relevant address as shown in figure shown below. This feature will be helpful if you need to hyperlink a specific word many times.

Figure 4: Glossary Keyword in Action

I feel that the vendor should modify this feature so that a balloon like tip will be displayed when a visitor hovers over the keyword. I would like to see the implementation of CAPTCHA protection for registration and comments modules and the auto social book marking features such as Digg and Delicious in the next edition of the product. The vendor has provided a facility to moderate comments and it will help you to remove unwanted entries before it's displayed on the site.

Features

One of the unique features of the product is the automatic insertion of Google AdSense in a prominent location on every page of the article. Moreover, the product ships with a unique SenseIt module which will automatically perform AdSense optimization by displaying the advertisement in the same font size, background color and format as that of the relevant article.

Figure 5: An Article in Action

The product generates Search Engine Friendly URLs, which generate HTML extensions for articles and categories by making use of the respective titles. These features will work only if you enable the feature in the Admin Panel

Figure 6: Important Settings

The complete list of all the features with an online demo of both the front and Admin Panel can be accessed at http://www.alstrasoft.com/article_manager.htm. The vendor has also listed some of the live sites deployed with the product so that you can directly experience the features included with it.

Counting

The product displays Site Statistics on the right side of each page which includes total number of articles, authors, hits and categories as shown below. From my point of view, this feature is very important as there is no need for the web masters to display external hit counters.

Figure 7: Site Statistics

A core feature of the product is that it automatically converts the displayed article into PDF format by clicking the link displayed along side the title of the article. I found that there is a minor difference between each paragraphs in the PDF output and I hope the vendor will rectify it in the next edition of the product.

Freebies

As I pointed out earlier, the vendor provides few useful utilities such as GrabRSS module software and 85 private label rights articles along with the product. The vendor provides excellent ticket based support as their support team clarified all my questions very quickly (within 2 hours) in a user friendly language.

Conclusion

I must conclude that the product beats other article publishing applications available on the market as it comes with a powerful set of features as examined above with an integrated revenue generation system. I have not found any other application with a very simple administration interface as well. I strongly feel that the websites powered with the product generates lot of page views than traditional websites. The product is priced at $149 for a single domain license but at the end of the day, I am sure that you will not be disappointed for the amount you invested as you get all the required functionalities to create a dynamic website.

About the Product

Title

Article Manager Pro

Price

1 domain license   : US $149

5 domain license   : US $500

10 domain license : US $899

Related URL

http://www.alstrasoft.com/article_manager.htm

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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