Friday, February 13, 2009

XMetaL Reviewer Webinar

I attended a webinar yesterday hosted by Just Systems for their XMReviewer product.  The problem space is that conventional reviewing processes are cumbersome and inefficient, particularly when there are multiple reviewers that need to review a document concurrently.  In general, most review processes rely on either multiple draft copies being sent out, one to each reviewer, and then it’s up to the author to “merge” the comment feedback into the source.

With XMReviewer, the entire review process is centralized on the XM Reviewer server:  Reviewers simply access the document online, provide their comments and submit. What’s really cool is that reviewers are notified in almost real time when another reviewer has submitted their comments and can integrate their fellow reviewer’s comments into their own.

The real advantage is that authors have all reviewer comments integrated and merged into a single XML instance, and in context. Very Nice. 

There’s also a web service API that allows you to integrate XMReviewer with other systems including a CMS that can automatically deploy your content to the XMReviewer server.

There are some nice general reporting/auditing features built in as well.  However, I didn’t see anything that would allow me to customize the reports or to manipulate the data, but I wouldn’t consider that a show stopper.

For folks used to “offline” reviews, e.g., providing comments at home, or on a plane, this won’t work for you as it is a server application.  Nonetheless, having the ability to have full control and context for review comments far outweighs the minor inconvenient requirement of being online and getting access to the server (most companies these days have VPN, so it’s not a showstopper).  Though, I can envision the possibility of the server downloading and installing a small-footprint application that would allow users to review the document “offline” and being able to “submit” the comments back to the server when the reviewer is back online. 

The only other limitation right now is that XMReviewer doesn’t support DITA map-level reviews in which you can provide comments on multiple topics within a map.  This is currently in development for a future release – stay tuned.

Overall, XMReviewer looks great and can simplify your content review process.  Check it out.

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