Whatever you want, Cascade Server can do it!
August 26, 2014
Whatever you want, Cascade Server can do it!
Score 10 out of 10
Overall Satisfaction with Cascade Server
We are currently using Cascade Server in the College of Sciences and Mathematics, but it is also being used in other colleges and offices across campus as well. In our college, it helps us manage the website easily by letting multiple users in each department/office manage their own pages without having to be proficient in website code. Also, it allows us to control exactly what they can edit, which helps keep our pages uniform and makes it less likely the other users could mess something up.
- Cascade Server can be used to break down pages into "blocks" which are basically snippets of code that can be reused over and over again. Using index blocks makes many things on our site so much easier because the block basically finds the information for us, and then all we have to do is write a small XSLT or Velocity format to process that information. Cascade Server makes use of this very well so that we can easily make our pages more dynamic. It's almost like they write themselves at times.
- In Cascade Server, templates can be used in a way that can make updating the design of your site a breeze. Basically you have one or two base templates that every page on your site references, plus your css files. When it's time to change the design, all you really need to do is replace the css and change your template. You can rearrange and modify your blocks to make sure that they don't go crazy, but once the css and template have been updated, the rest is a piece of cake.
- User management is handled well in Cascade Server. We have ours tied in to Active Directory, and we add our users through the ldap connection. Once they have been added, however, managing them is easing with groups. I just give a group the permissions it needs and drop the users in. I think it's vital to be able to restrict what a user can edit, and at times, what they can even see. Cascade lets you show your users as much or as little as you want.
- For me, writing formats has been the bane of my existence at times. Now I am not technically a programmer, so it may come as no surprise that XSLT does not come easily to me. I can modify formats that have already been written, but not write new ones. That being said, the formats do work great, it can just be very technical for those who may not have those skills. However, I have found Velocity much easier to write and understand, but the only problem I have with it is the lack of documentation at times. Hannon Hill has been working to provide more support for Velocity though, so even though the formats can be very technical, they are becoming easier with Velocity.
- Workflows are great, but they can be confusing. Using the workflow builder is the way to go, but for the ones I have made, I have had to follow a tutorial each time. They can definitely take some getting used to as far as setting them up.
- I honestly have not paid much attention to ROI, but I do know that by being able to allow our departments to manage their own pages, it has taken a lot of work off me... which of course frees up my time for "other" work.
- WordPress,MS SharePoint
So many other content management systems are set up to do one thing well, but what makes Cascade Server better is that it can be set up to do almost anything well. WordPress makes great blogs... so can Cascade Server. SharePoint can be used for great collaboration, so can Cascade Server. Chances are, whatever CMS you find, Cascade will be able to do what it does, plus even more.
The University is actually paying for Cascade Server, so as long as it continues to be used as much as it is, then it should continue to be renewed. We also keep adding more and more colleges, departments and office that are using Cascade all the time.
I feel that Cascade Server can be made to work well in just about any situation you may have. One thing I have noticed, however, is that it can get frustrating if you are attempting to use it to manage large files that are on your site (such as photos and videos). In this case, it would work well to host your pictures and videos separately (Flickr/YouTube, etc) and then embed them in your site from there. Other than that, Cascade Server can be used to manage anything from a small site, to many large sites, to a blog or whatever you may have. If you can put it on the web, you can manage it in Cascade Server.