I got a lot out of Village though I wasn’t expecting to. There was excitement in the air and clear commitment to continued development of their core Vignette Content Management (VCM V7) product and other products which had been lacking for the last couple years. To be honest, I had begun to expect that it was a matter of time unti the Plone/Drupal/Joomla crowd outstripped VCM, but they seem to be making the changes required to keep the product as the true enterprise choice. We already moved off Vignette Dialog, which was a very good email marketing package, because of the lackof support and new development. I don’t know the details, but basically Vignette went all meathead and turned away from their core products to chase medical/legal document management money a couple years ago, combined with financial problems and layoffs, and so the products started to suck. They seem to have turned that around, though, and everyone I spoke to inside Vignette is excited about their new leadership, especially Bertrand de Coatpont, the new VCM product manager.
The new Vignette Recommendations (OEMed from Baynote Systems) looks really good, and will expose some new data to us that I think can be used in a lot of different and innovative ways. From previous descriptions I had thought “Yeah, whatever, BazaarVoice but from Vignette, which doesn’t necessarily inspire confidence in me” (frankly, we Web Admins have learned to be suspicious about additional offerings from Oracle, Vignette, HP, etc. as they will try to sell you crap on the strength of their brand name and alleged integration). But the reality, which is an extremely elegant way of collecting and immediately reusing usage info, is brilliant and especially with their social search aspect to it, I feel like they have an actual vision they’re working towards. So two thumbs up there!
Also two thumbs up on the Transfer Tool, which allows you to easily clone VCM installs to other servers – it’ll allow for frequent and efficient refreshes. We had to have that working, so we Web Admins had devised a complicated two-day process to clone an environment; this should be much better.
VCM 7.6 is planned to be complete this year, and it has a lot of compelling features – you can migrate Content Type Definitions (change a CTD and the content changes inside the VCM to fit), lots of performance, availability, and console GUI fixes… Then “Ace,” which everyone knows is VCM V8 but they don’t want to own up to that yet, has a total GUI overhaul. Most of the issues we have with VCM are content contributor usability, so that’s great.
All in all, two days well spent. It definitely exceeded my expectations (and I’ve been to Village in years previous).