Vignette has announced Syndication Server (VSS), the first product to conform to ICE (Information and Content Exchange) 1.0, a protocol still to be ratified by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
The ICE protocol allows Web sites to set up syndication services, much like the affiliate services offered by online bookseller Amazon.com, whereby one Web site can subscribe to content or services on another site.
The syndicated site simply subscribes to content from the producer and ICE handles the conversion of the content to fit the subscriber's format, schedule updates, and handle the business rules associated with the subscription.
The protocol was submitted to the W3C on 13 October by Vignette, along with Sun, Microsoft, Adobe and CNET, but the company has raced ahead to announce VSS in an attempt to kickstart the protocol. However, VSS requires Vignette's Story Server 4, an Internet relationship management product that tackles customer loyalty through site personalisation. Story Server 4 starts at #15,625, and VSS is expected to start at $50,000 (#29,762) when it ships in January.
Jon Norledge, operations director at Direct Network Publishing, is considering the Vignette package for the Football365.co.uk news site: "(VSS) seems to provide solutions to problems we foresee with syndication. At the moment, the only alternative we've seen is developing (syndication software) ourselves," he said. "If we (already) had Story Server 4, we would put ourselves forward for trials but buying an off-the-shelf package like Story Server might limit us."
Olivier Moinecourt, UK general manager for i-Mediation, which produces similar software for affiliating Web sites (PC Week, 3 November), said: "We don't conform to ICE yet because we don't know if the protocol will become a standard.
If it does, we will implement it. At the moment it is more of a Vignette standard. It's one of a number of possible standards."
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