by Devin Fernandez
In the previous edition of the Edge, Tom Ortega's article, Introduction to InContext Editing with Adobe Dreamweaver CS4, explained the mechanics behind this Adobe hosted service for web professionals. In this article, we explore putting InContext Editing into action from a business perspective, including who should use InContext Editing, how to get your clients started, and how to charge them.
It's important to establish guidelines about when it makes sense to use InContext Editing. InContext Editing is intended for nontechnical clients who need to make simple changes to website content to keep it up to date. The key to the service is that clients can make edits within a web browser (see Figure 1).
Figure 1. InContext Editing works just like most word processors, so clients can quickly update their web content
with familiar tools directly from their browser window.
InContext Editing is ideally suited for updates on pages with simple content. Clients can use it to edit text and add or delete hyperlinks and images. At a more advanced level, InContext Editing is also useful for editing repeating lists of information such as news articles, real estate listings, restaurant menus, or events. With InContext Editing, even your least technical clients can manage a simple events list, add or delete new events, and control the order in which events appear. They can even duplicate an existing page and then link to it using the hyperlink tool. For example, if your clients want to create an Events page for events that occur in May, they can duplicate the existing April page, update it with May's events, and then link to it from the other editable events pages.
A key benefit of using InContext Editing is that you can apply it selectively. By using InContext Editing, you are not forced to make your entire site editable. You can choose which pages you want to make editable and what content on those pages can be changed as well as set the editing options your clients can use. Armed with this level of detailed control, you can apply InContext Editing to only the pages and content that require clients to make their own updates.
If the content of a site goes beyond simple, static content, InContext Editing may not be the best solution. For instance, if the content for your Events page is stored in a database, InContext Editing is not equipped to edit that dynamic content directly. However, if you use the Spry HTML data set option in Adobe Dreamweaver CS4, you can make the static data containers editable with InContext Editing. Your clients can then edit a single HTML table of data and see the content update across multiple pages within their site.
Beyond the type of content you're working with, you'll want to consider the customer type. InContext Editing is best suited for individual content owners or small teams. InContext Editing supports a simple publishing workflow with an Editor role that can edit pages and save them as drafts and a Publisher role that can edit and publish pages to the live site. In addition, a Publisher can manage user accounts for a given domain and invite new users to start editing the site. If your client requires a more customizable publishing workflow with custom user roles or complex approval processes, InContext Editing may not be the right solution.
Finally, it's important to note that FTP access to your client's publishing server is critical for the InContext Editing service. The service uses FTP to publish updates to your web server. If your client's server sits behind a firewall, it must be configured to allow the InContext Editing service to pass through and access the publishing server.
Once you've decided to use InContext Editing on your client's site, creating an editable site and setting your users up is a simple process:
Figure 2. The Administration panel offers a centralized interface for managing user accounts and setting permissions.
InContext Editing provides a simple Invite A User dialog box within the web-based Administration panel for inviting users (see Figure 2). To invite users, simply enter their e-mail address and set their privileges (as either Editors or Publishers). When the invitation process is complete, an e-mail is sent to your clients that includes instructions for accepting the invitation and establishing an Adobe ID. After the e-mail has been sent, you can track the status of the invitation directly in the Administration panel. The invitation is good for 30 days, and after the users have accepted, their status change will be reflected in the Administration panel.
The InContext Editing service uses Adobe IDs for authentication. To start editing their site, your clients need to establish a new Adobe ID or use an existing one. When your clients want to edit a specific page, they browse to the page in a web browser, use a keyboard shortcut (Ctrl+E on Windows or Command+E on Mac OS) to call the InContext Editing service, and then log in using their Adobe ID.
InContext Editing was developed not only to reduce the amount of time you spend making simple content edits on behalf of your clients, but also to help you add value to your client's experience. As designated Editors and Publishers, clients can edit content for free and without limits. They can edit any sites they have been invited to and can make as many edits as they like, and they will not be charged.
The Web Developer role, which allows you to not only edit but author InContext Editing–enabled sites as well as configure them, is offered for a low monthly subscription fee. The monthly subscription enables you to configure and manage up to five different domains. If you decide to enable more than five domains with the InContext Editing service, you can purchase additional domains. InContext Editing is currently available as a free preview in English in North America only, but the near-term plan is to localize the subscription service and offer it internationally. (Note: Exact languages and geographies are still to be determined.)
Whether you decide to pass some, all, or none of the cost of your monthly InContext Editing subscription on to your clients is entirely up to you. If you bill your clients monthly for other services such as web hosting, adding an additional charge for InContext Editing seems like a natural extension. If you work with your clients on a project by project basis, then consider including InContext Editing in the overall cost of the project. Given that InContext Editing in many instances will benefit you as much as your clients by reducing the number of requests for small content updates, while providing you time to work on more interesting and often more lucrative design projects, it's also reasonable to provide InContext Editing to your clients at no charge. The decision is yours.
InContext Editing can increase client satisfaction by giving them the ability to make simple updates to their own websites more effectively. This hosted Adobe service can also make your life easier because you will receive fewer requests for small site updates that you may currently perform as a gesture of goodwill. When InContext Editing is used appropriately and editable content and roles are defined intelligently, InContext Editing can satisfy the objectives of both clients and designers and ultimately promote healthier and potentially longer lasting business relationships.
Devin Fernandez is a product manager on the Adobe Dreamweaver team.