Making Sense of Site Management Software By Scott Clark
Web Integrity is really two pieces of software: the Integrity Engine, a server-side product, and Sidecar, the client-side interface. The Integrity Engine functions as a CGI executable, and works with either Netscape's FastTrack server or Microsoft's Internet Information server (it is also now bundled with the Netscape Enterprise server as well). It can work as a command-line interface through the browser, or you can use the MKS Client Tool, Sidecar, to connect to the project through the Integrity Engine. Another graphical program that is included with the MKS Client Tools is the Visual Difference utility, which lets the developer compare text-based files individually, side-by-side, or in a merged view.
The installation procedure for Web Integrity is pretty basic. After shutting down the Web server, you find the appropriate setup file on the CD for your Web server. The actual setup program is a simple fill-in-the-blanks process. Web Integrity comes with a 28-page Getting Started Guide, but it only focuses on getting you up and running with the product.
Examples of how to effectively use it, and troubleshooting tips also are included. Sidecar features an extensive online help guide that gives the user a description of what Sidecar does, and then goes on to explain exactly how to do it.
The Web Integrity Engine works in the background as you start to retrieve and make changes to your site. You can use the browser by itself to retrieve the files by typing a command line similar to this:
http://home.net/viktor/index.htm; version=head:lock The head revision of the page would appear with a lock on it so others can't make changes on it at the same time you do. The extra extensions on the URL are Web Integrity's version control syntax. This allows the developer to make changes on the site from anywhere, provided a Web browser is available.
MKS Sidecar is a much simpler method of communicating with the Web Integrity Engine. You don't need to remember the URL extensions, and most of the applications you'll use for editing will be right at your fingertips. Using Sidecar, you can view the entire history of an individual page or graphic file, retrieve and lock a previous version of the file, edit it using your favorite HTML editor, preview it on your browser, upload it to the Web server, and view it remotely in your browser to insure that it is correct. Then you would unlock it so others could work on it.
Web Integrity only saves a copy of the files that you check out if you tell it to do so, saving space for important changes, not simple changes that don't affect the page design or layout. The entire history of the file can be viewed in the browser by clicking on the Changes button of Sidecar. The developer can view or download any previous version, making the re-creation of the site a very simple matter of uploading the file and saving it as the current version.
MKS has built a foundation upon the security and integrity of their products. Web Integrity is no exception, living up to the name. Although it falls short on documentation, it is a very intuitive product, and I'd rather be working with intuitive products than complex products that require lots of documentation. While Web Integrity isn't going to create your pages for you, it does do a great job of managing change within your Internet or intranet Web site.
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