Adobe InContext : William Harrel – Journalist

How many times has a Web design client asked you, “Can I edit it myself?” Immediately you cringe, thinking about how hard it will be to train them to make small edits to their Website, and how easy it is for them to ruin your hard work. Well, if you use DreamWeaver and are willing to upgrade to CS4, Adobe has come up with a fairly good solution, Adobe InContext.

Changing text color from inside Internet Explorer

Changing text color from inside Internet Explorer

InContext allows you to define regions on a page within DreamWeaver that endusers and clients can then edit from Explorer or some other Web browser, and then save their edits back to the Web server. InContext is a bit of a hassle to setup-each site has to be registered at adobe.com-but once you’ve gone through all the setup steps, sure enough, the document can be edited from a browser. The best part is that only the regions you define as editable can be changed; the rest of the page is untouchable.

It works like this:

  • You define a region or regions on the page for InContext editing.
  • When you save and upload the page, DreamWeaver automatically creates 3 small files, 2 javascript files and an html file, and saves them in the Includes folder on the server.
  • You then go to the Adobe Website and register the site. If you haven’t registered a site before, you will also have register as an InContext administrator-a relatively quick and easy procedure. And, so far, it is free.
  • After you register the InContext site, you can then add users and send them invitations to edit the site using InContext. An email with instructions for accessing the InContext session from inside their browser is sent via email.
  • Now, when you or a user browse to that site and go to an editable page, all you have to do is hit Ctrl-E (Windows) or Command-E (Mac).
  • This starts the InContext session and the site can now be edited in the browser.

There are two tutorials on the Adobe Website describing this process. One for the DreamWeaver designer, or developer – http://www.adobe.com/devnet/dreamweaver/articles/getting_started_with_ice_dev.html

And one for the enduser, or “content editor” – http://www.adobe.com/devnet/dreamweaver/articles/getting_started_with_ice_eu_03.html

Depending on the role you choose on Adobe’s site for the enduser, they can make various types of edits, including:

  • Text formatting and style (the default)
  • Image insertion and management
  • Insertion and management of hyperlinks.

Pros of InContext
The best thing I can say about this solution is that it works and works fairly well. The enduser doesn’t need to have or know how to use DreamWeaver or any other Webpage design program. Nor do you need to teach your client (or employee) the intricacies of FTP and editing a page in a text editor, all the while praying that they don’t change the wrong things. Once up and running, it is pretty slick and works well.

Oh yeah, and did I mention it is free?

Cons of InContext
The three things I liked least about this solution is that: It is a bit time consuming to setup. It locks you and your client into the Adobe website and Adobe products, no matter what the future brings (I have been using Adobe products for years and don’t really see myself switching. However, I’d bet it would have been just as easy for Adobe to create javascripts that enabled InContext without registering on the Adobe Website. But then this would have made this solution relatively easy to use with any Webpage design program-it’s easy to understand why they wouldn’t want that.); Finally, InContext only works with the latest doctypes (i.e., HTML 4.01). If you have been designing sites as long as I have, you will have plenty with earlier doctypes. If so, you will have to change the doctype on every page you want to setup to use InContext.

You can find a good description of InContext on Adobe’s site at http://www.adobe.com/products/incontextediting/

An ongoing discussion of InContext can be found here: http://www.graphicrating.com/2008/10/27/adobe-incontext-editing/

Bill Harrel – www.williamharrel.com