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on March 13, 2003
At first reading, this book was good, but I later found myself confused about the processes Hackos describes. The first chapter is strong in that it provides an overview of the five phases of a content management project, complete with lists of deliverables. The book includes a number of process checklists in the appendices.
When I see a book that lays out a process structure in the beginning, I expect the table of contents to follow that structure. This book fails to do that. It can be difficult in the first reading to know what phase of the process is described in any particular chapter. The last two phases of development--the pilot project and the roll out--are not described outside the introductory chapter.
Since the content management field is apparently devoid of a conventional vernacular, authors get to invent their own terms for things. I had to read several chapters many times to understand what Hackos means by "information type" and "content unit." It was also difficult to see where metadata fits into the picture. Her information model shows an information repository containing "modules of content", such as reports or manuals. Each module of content may contain one or more "information types", such as letters or recipes. Each information type is constructed of "content units", which can be recipe ingredients or procedure steps. But, you start by defining "dimensions", which become retrieval metadata for the information types.
A dimension is essentially an enumerated data type with a set of discrete values. Once you define the dimensions, you can then define information types and, at the lowest level, content units. These dimensions are translated into metadata attached to "modules of content". This is what confuses me. As described in the book the metadata is attached to the highest level of document in the repository, but not the lowest level of content unit. Apparently, the sole function of metadata advocated here is to aid user-level searching and retrieval, and not to support authoring workflow. I find this a significant shortcoming.
In summary:
Strengths: Strong focus on the end user, case studies, process not overly detailed, a chapter on making a business case, appendices full of checklists, & a good introduction.
Weaknesses: Book doesn't follow process flow, the jargon is difficult to grasp, reuse mechanisms are not well covered, uses a weak metadata model, and really only details the first three phases of a five-phase process.
Recommendation: A number of people I work with like this book, so maybe I'm just cranky. I would check out the website where Hackos lays out the process for you and provides some detail. You should be able to get a feel for her style and process there.
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on May 2, 2005
Personally, because I am a beginner at content management, this book seemed a little too technical for me. It is meant to teach someone the process of content management, but somehow it still seems a bit high-level. In any case, the content itself is a good indicator of how the process works. Here are some highlights:

* It covers the processes necessary to analyze, create, and manage content, as well as present it on the web.

* It includes strategies for separating presentation from content, such as how to analyze documents to break them up into logical units.

* It shows how to create an information model (a schema used for defining the structure of the data) and defining content units (logical units in which content is stored); it discusses creating content in that data model using XML.

* It includes creating content plans that define how data will be organized and presented to users for both static and dynamic sites.

* It focuses on the concept of single source publishing (publishing the same content in multiple ways and formats).

* It talks about how to staff a project with advanced content creation experts.

* It touches upon advanced concepts such as using topic maps to define advanced presentation.

If you are just starting out, this book may be too much for your first stab at learning the material. However, this is a good 2nd book, once the initial idea has been understood.
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on March 26, 2002
Covers a broad range of issues, tools, technologies, and concepts. We are all new to some aspect of this emerging topic, and this book provides a point-of-entry for the new as well as experienced content manager.
Particularly noteworthy (at least to me) is the chapter on making a business case for content mgmt, which is increasingly important for technical communicators.
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on March 25, 2002
This book is a must for anyone considering moving to a content management system. Hackos lays out, clearly and step by step, the process you need to work through before you buy or build a content management system.
Too many companies plunge into the technology of content management and end up with unusable and unused systems. Buy and read this book before you do that.
With clearly written text and with lots of examples and stories, Hackos helps you understand your information, the people who write it, the people who use it, and how to bring that all together to form the basis for a content management solution.
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on March 22, 2002
No two companies have identical content management needs. That means applying a formula is likely to result in disaster. Along with a detailed exposition of how to manage content, this invaluable book shows companies how to adapt the methods to their unique situations.
Ms. Hackos relates the creation of a high-level information model with the nitty-gritty details of establishing information types and the units of content composing them, how these units fit in a repository, and how to use various technogies to create, maintain and output from the repository.
The book is studded with examples of how content management has been done, both what to emulate and what to avoid. I am sure the principles espoused will be of value, long after any particular technology has been superceded.
The best (if not the only) book I have seen about this subject. Highly recommended.
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on May 14, 2002
It gives a good approach how to find the necessary meta-data for your content management system.
But it has nothing to do with modeling.
In fact it gives in certain areas very bad advice.
One example.
For every content unit you will indicate for which product model this information is applicable.
<product model="computer A, computer B, computer C">
Now if you have 1000 information units that are reused for a new computer model D, you need to add this computer model to
the meta-data of 1000 information units.
The same if a model is taken out of the market.
This is not maintainable. I repeat this is not maintainable.
Good solutions model the relationships between components and in which products they are used
using PDM software, ERP software or in the traditional RDBMS sense and information units have a pointer to this external information.
I also do not see anything on:
- modeling of relationships between attributes
- modeling of relationships between the values of attributes.
E.G. food can have an ethnicity (italian, mexican, chinese, irish, ...)
These could be classified or grouped as european, asian, ...
No word on this.
Even the XML syntax used is not correct, I'm afraid, since these seem to be empty elements.
<product model="computer A, computer B, computer C"/>
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on March 16, 2002
If you are attempting to understand the steps required to move your technical documentation into a content management system... and what to do with such a system afterward, read this book.
This book makes few assumptions about what you know about content management; as such it explains the basic material that other books gloss over. Make no mistake, however, this book is not just an introduction - if you follow the excellent examples and illustrations, you will have a good understanding between such items as "your information model" and "metadata" ... and why the relationship is important to content management. Separate chapters progress from beginning to end of the process to help you understand the steps necessary to move your content into a content management system. Roles and responsiblities of team members are discussed; activities such as task analysis are also identified at appropriate steps.
If you are attempting to understand why content management is good and how to implement it, read this book; if you have you have implemented a system already and are not pleased with it, read this book to identify what might have gone wrong. Great practical information to understand before you implement your own system or before you discuss your needs with integrators and vendors.
This may not be the last book you read on content management however it should be the first.
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on January 29, 2003
This book is a great introduction to how smart design of content and its delivery can facilitate its reuse in an organization. The author has a lot of experience and lays out strategy and advice in a very straightforward manner without jargon. Her examples are simple and nicely revealed and formatted. She always has the customer in mind. Throughout the book, one always has the sense of a person behind the deliveries obtaining benefit (this is so often missing, which is why so many of these type of endeavors fail). The book reveals the soup-to-nuts considerations for anyone wanting to create and manage an effective information delivery project.
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on March 13, 2002
This book contains a lot of real-world advice about building a content management and publishing system that helps you deliver better information faster and cheaper. The author's direct experience really shows through, and the case studies are valuable too.
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on March 12, 2002
This book will benefit anyone in the field of content management and content delivery. Professionals dealing with the complex task of delivering large volume of information to a community of users in a navigable and clear way will find an expert advice and clear guidelines in this book to help achieve better result in their day-to-day challenges.
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