Monday, March 29, 2010

Hippo's New Version Compare Functionality

Arjé Cahn recently screencasted a demonstration of the new version compare functionality that will be released in Hippo CMS version 7.4 (due June 2010). While (as Arjé concedes) versioning and version compare are nothing new, the Hippo team has added a subtle twist that I think makes a vast improvement.

When an approver is reviewing a change to a previously approved asset, Hippo CMS defaults to a version compare view. Adds, changes, and deletes are highlighted by color and strikethrough (see screenshot).

The concept reminds me of source code control system commit emails that highlight changes to code whenever anyone checks anything in (click on screenshot for a larger view). I do a lot of web development team mentorship and I have come to rely commit emails.

SVN Commit Example

They allow me to quickly determine if there are any material changes that I need to dig into and saves me loads of time (in the case of the screenshot example, no important changes have been made). I am wondering if the Hippo implementation adds excerpts of changes in their workflow notification emails. That would be convenient.

I really like the Hippo team's pragmatic approach to enhancing Hippo CMS. Rather than adding lots of a new "checklist" features (that make the product more complicated), they tend to focus on refining and streamlining functionality that customers probably already use. It is that "make it suck less" philosophy that makes software continuously better for the users but tends not to get recognized by most analysts and buyers.

Keep up the good work Hippo!