Why was Cofax developed?
"If you want something done, ask a busy person." -- Benjamin Franklin
The Cofax Software was mostly developed by the Technology Staff at KnightRidder.com/Philly.com working with the philly.com Production staff and The Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper staff. Feedback from other Knight Ridder newspaper users of Cofax also shaped the product.
Close interaction between the users and developers of the toolset greatly benefited the finished product and has had much to do with it's success.
Other people have also kindly contributed to the development of Cofax as an Open Source project.
The initial motivation for the development of Cofax was to set up automatically updating columnists sites for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
In 1995, the Philly Online Staff developed pin, a system to automatically publish the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News newspapers on the web.
In 1996, the Philly Online staff came up with the concept of a product called the Packager or pin version 2 which would automate the building of special packages and sites using the newspaper's content.
In 1996 and 1997, Philly Online created Co-branding software for use by the Sports Network. In their own time, some of the same developers created other Open Source software.
Knowledge and code from several earlier projects, both Philly Online's projects and independent Open Source projects was used in the development of Cofax.
In 1999, Cofax (then called Goon) was developed to replace the pin system.
Produced in an environment intimate to its customers, with a low budget ceiling, a number of specific benefits were sought after and achieved:
- Ease of use. The templating system and the content management toolset would need to require minimal training and technical support.
- Content/Design/Logic seperation. Content creators and designers must free to create without needing technical support. System logic can be changed without requiring changes to design or content.
- High performance/scalability at reasonable cost. The largest sites on the Knight Ridder network were serving tens of millions of page views a month. The new system would need to support that and more.
- Platform independence. Not having to rely on one single vendor for app server, operating system, or even database.
- Database logic independence. A fatal flaw of most similar systems is their tieing to one database schema and platform. Changes to schema in most systems require massive changes to source code. It was a goal to solve this technological problem.
- Flexibility on importing the various, and highly different newsfeeds that are provided by newspapers.
- Static site look and feel. URLs were to be simple and navigatable. Sites should be indexable by standard search engine technologies.
The Cofax project achieved these goals and much more.
Initially rolled out two of the largest newspapers in the the Knight Ridder chain, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, Cofax adoption took place for the majority of the newspaper chain on a voluntary basis after hearing word of it's impressive capabilities.
Today, the entire Knight Ridder newspaper network runs on their Single Digital Platform (SDP) content management system that is a direct Cofax derivative. Thanks to the continued contributions of organizations and individuals across the world, the open source Cofax (now in the version 2 series) has developed into an equally or more capable content management system.