Adobe Contribute

Until last week, I had no idea what Adobe Contribute was for. I knew it existed. I’d see it as I scrolled through that long list of Adobe programs in the Master Collection. I just never really thought it was something I’d ever need to use. I don’t think this program was even mentioned by name at school. After learning a bit about it, I have to say that it’s pretty neat.

I design e-mail newsletters. I design them, but it’s not actually my job to place content in them. The need for Contribute arose when I realized that the person placing in content hadn’t the slightest idea about web design, HTML, or how to use Dreamweaver. This is where Contribute comes in.

Contribute is actually meant to integrate directly with Dreamweaver. It reads HTML pages created using Dreamweaver template files (.dwt) so that anything that’s not in an editable region is completely locked down (just like it is in Dreamweaver). I’ve even locked down the styles associated with the text. The person placing the content can copy-paste from anywhere (word document, webpage, e-mail), and the styles I created for the design are going to stay the same.

This is because as an administrator in Contribute you can control what various user roles can and cannot do. The person placing content can literally do only that, and it’s a much easier interface (pretty much just a WYSIWYG editor) to add images and links than Dreamweaver is. There are also a lot of neat little things too, like forcing a user to add ALT text to an image when they place it, and disallowing consecutive blank spaces.

If you’re interested in using Contribute, I’d suggest reading up on how to create editable template files in Dreamweaver. Repeating regions are particularly useful for designs where there’s a varying amount of content. It’s also great in my case, where there are a great deal of different HTML pages that all rely on one template file. When I make a change to that template in Dreamweaver, it updates the pages in Contribute as well (even if content has already been placed in it).

If you have multiple users adding content in, you’re going to want to use the Check In/Check Out feature. (Again, never even knew about this until I started researching Contribute). You can find more information about this feature in a Technote by Adobe.

If you’re comfortable with Dreamweaver (and to be an administrator in Contribute you pretty much have to be), Contribute should be pretty easy to use. It also elegantly bridges the gap between web designer and a person who doesn’t know the first thing about web design. So if you need that kind of functionality it’s definitely worth looking in to.

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