RSuite CMS Success Stories | Human Kinetics, Steven Calderwood

Posted by Sarah Silveri on Aug 7, 2014 10:49:00 AM

Steven Calderwood, Director, Content Engineering and Digital Delivery at Human Kinetics explains how RSuite CMS allowed his organization to see immediate ROI by enabling in-house journal production. They've also gained a huge increase in quality control for their ebook process and can now meet ebook standards without involving third party vendors. 


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Topics: RSuite CMS, Digital Asset Management, metadata, DAMS, ebook, ROI, journal

RSuite CMS Success Stories | The IET, Sara Sharman

Posted by Sarah Silveri on Aug 1, 2014 8:30:00 AM

Sara Sharman, Editorial and Production Manager at The Institution of Engineering and Technology (The IET) explains how RSuite CMS has allowed her organization to establish an e-first publishing workflow to publish individual articles before the entire issue is complete, manage ONIX metadata, and future plans to manage video content for their IET TV department.

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Topics: RSuite CMS, publishing, metadata, The IET, journals, e-first, IET TV

Technical skills for publishers

Posted by Lisa Bos on Feb 25, 2014 9:28:00 AM

Technical skills for publishersTechnical skills for publishers using a CMS and XML

Publishers often ask us what skills they should have on staff in order to be ready to use a CMS and XML. Our response is that publishers will be more effective if they have staff with the technical skills tied most closely to their content and products. Not every publisher needs to be able to perform RSuite customizations using Java. (In fact, few publishers need or have this.) But every publisher should know their own content and publishing processes. This is especially important when a system is first rolled out, but continues to be useful for normal system maintenance and for those occasional unexpected problems when you need help fast to get your product out the door. It’s not that you can’t outsource these skills; it’s that you will be more nimble with them.

Identifying Your Content Architect Candidates

At RSI we usually refer to someone with these skills as a “content architect”. In most cases, our customers already have one or more staff members poised to take on deeper content architecture expertise, and hiring isn’t necessary.  You’ll recognize these colleagues as the ones you already turn to for answers about why and how things get done.

  • They know your content and products deeply.
  • They know your processes backwards and forwards.
  • They are naturally interested in the under-the-cover details of your existing systems.
  • They have technical aptitude – an intuition for how software works or might work. They might also have a background in scripting or another software development area.

Most often (but not always!) these colleagues will be on your print or digital production teams.

Skills and Knowledge Areas to Consider

The following are typical areas of focus for content architects. Each item’s relative importance depends on factors like the volume and pace of your publishing schedule and the complexity of your content and processes. While you don’t necessarily need the same person to be expert in all these areas, having one or two people with broad knowledge across the areas provides the shortest path to solving problems and planning system improvements.

DTD/XSD maintenance

Publishers rarely need staff who can develop an XML schema (DTD or XSD) from scratch, but someone on staff should be able to read your schemas, understand how they are used to mark up your content, and talk in detail with partners, vendors, or other departments who need to use them. This is crucial because you need this skill to manage your vendors (e.g., Is the XML created by your vendor good enough?).

Sometimes it’s useful if your content architect can make minor schema changes and deploy updates to RSuite, but since such changes are rare and rarely time-sensitive, you can usually do without this skill on staff.

Metadata maintenance

Metadata is all the data you use to manage your content and to enable findability and usability on the web and elsewhere. It drives many internal and customer-facing publishing systems. Content architects can help you plan how to build in metadata quality aids and checks, and can diagnose problems when something goes wrong. For example, if topical metadata is missing, content might not be findable on your website or might not be delivered to a partner. How might your CMS help avoid this problem? How can you tell when a problem has occurred?

Transformation knowledge and technical skills

Transformations are the automated or semi-automated steps that convert content from one form to another, such as from Word to XML or XML to ePUB. Transformations are responsible for much of the efficiency gains and product improvements CMS and XML bring.

But here’s the thing: Unless you have products that are very high volume and can be held to extraordinary consistency standards (think “dictionaries”), then your transformations will never really be finished. No sooner will you get one issue or book out the door then you will realize that your next project is just a little different. You need a new type of article, or a new type of layout element. This is normal and this is okay – as long as you can quickly and affordably adjust your transformations for minor changes.

When using RSuite, this means someone on staff (or at least on call) should be able to maintain Word-to-XML mappings and XSLT scripts and the mappings and XSLT scripts responsible for generating outputs from XML. Our most successful customers do light maintenance themselves and call us or other experts only for more complex changes.

Template maintenance

Most of our customers use two types of templates: those for Microsoft Word, and those for their page production systems (e.g., InDesign). Templates define many of the inputs and outputs of your CMS. Along with transformations, they enable you to work predictably and, therefore, efficiently. A staff content architect should understand how templates must be used to ensure successful transformations, and ideally will be able to make minor changes to templates to correspond with maintenance level transformation changes.

Workflow and content lifecycle management

“Workflow and content lifecycle management” is a fancy way of saying someone needs an understanding of the changes content goes through over time, from creation/acquisition through to delivery to all targets, and who or what is making those changes. While the prior areas focus on the technical details of the content and software, lifecycle management adds in knowledge of who (or what system) is doing what when. This holistic understanding is required to quickly debug and correct problems when they occur, and to know when outside help is and isn’t needed.

How to Start?

The best way to prepare someone to be a content architect after your CMS launches is to make them one of the primary participants in CMS implementation. They will naturally learn most or all they need to know through the project. If your content architect is going especially deep with transformations or schema management, then formal training might be desirable, but in most cases it’s not needed. What they will need is some time to gain experience while still being backed up by outside experts.

Your content architect will also need some of his or her ongoing work hours freed up. For some publishers, this work represents only a minutes each day. In other cases, such as when significant new product development goals are being rolled out concurrently with the CMS, this could turn into a fulltime job. Your RSI project manager can help you think through what is most likely in your organization.

In summary, you need a content architect for light maintenance, to solve unexpected problems, and to help plan for content and CMS changes over time. The good news is you probably already have the  right person on staff!


Share your thoughts!

Topics: RSuite, workflow, metadata, Publishers, Technical skills for publishers, start, beginning

Educational Publishers Learn the Importance of Metadata

Posted by Dave Saracco on Nov 13, 2013 11:39:00 AM

describe the imageOver the past ten years, I have been working with educational publishers, large and small, helping them with their digital publishing needs from building ancillary products both online and on CDs and DVDs, online course ware, digital assessment programs, online e-textbook selling sites, and hundreds of other educational products.  For the past year, my focus here at RSI is to help educational, academic and media publishing companies with their content management needs and content preparation for concurrent, multichannel publishing.  At most meetings with educational publishers these days, a good deal of the discussion is focused on how RSuite can help in the increasingly daunting task of properly tagging their content for discovery both internally and externally. 

Most publishers today have begun to understand the importance of rich metadata.  The selling of ebooks through the retail outlets has certainly brought an elevated focus to having your metadata robust, available, flexible and up to date but that metadata only scratches the surface for educational publishers.

According to that “great” source in the clouds (Wikipedia), Metadata is usually categorized in three types:

    • Descriptive metadata describes an information resource for identification and retrieval through elements such as title, author, and abstract.
    • Structural metadata documents relationships within and among objects through elements such as links to other components (e.g., how pages are put together to form chapters).
    • Administrative metadata helps to manage information resources through elements such as version number, archiving date, and other technical information for purposes of file management, rights management and preservation.

Standards-based metadata models are being hyped to help address educational objects discoverability in the marketplace such as the recently released Learning Resource Metadata Initiative (LRMI) (backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) and the Achievement Standards Networks (ASN) (which essentially enables content creators to describe the objective of learning and teaching resources in terms required by each state). There’s the existing standards such as the Learning Object Metadata model supported and managed by the International Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set to name only a few.

According to the LRMI’s mission, all of these initiatives are meant to “facilitate personalized learning by…” giving publishers the capability of tagging the content so learners can have “…the right content at the right time” and also to address the demands of states for standardized descriptions of learning resources. 

The key requirements for exploiting educational learning object metadata are to:

    • Understand user/community needs and to express these as an application profile
    • Have a strategy for creating high quality metadata
    • Store this metadata in a form which can be exported as LOM records
    • Agree a binding for LOM instances when they are exchanged
    • Be able to exchange records with other systems either as single instances or en masse.

How do you currently manage the process of tagging your content?

While RSuite CMS can certainly help publishers efficiently and effectively manage the complex metadata requirements for today’s educational publishers, I would like to understand your challenges by commenting on the questions below or bringing your own questions to the table…

    • Did you build your own taxonomy and system to add the tags to your content? 
    • Have you adopted one of the “standards”? 
    • Are you tagging your content with any metadata that will facilitate users finding and purchasing your content much less difficult than it is today? 


Let's start the conversation...

Topics: RSuite CMS, educational publishing, metadata

The Institution of Engineering and Technology Implements RSuite CMS

Posted by Sarah Silveri on Sep 4, 2013 8:00:00 AM

The IET Selects RSuite CMSRSuite CMS, a content management system for publishers, is used by The Institution of Engineering and Technology to manage journal articles, issues, images, and corresponding metadata for its journal production process. The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is a world leading professional organization sharing and advancing knowledge to promote science, engineering, and technology across the world. Based in the UK, The IET publishes 100+ new titles every year: a rich mix of books, journals and magazines with a back catalogue of more than 500 publications.


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Topics: RSuite CMS, metadata, The IET, The Institution of Engineering and Technology,, journals, books, magazines

Metadata can be as valuable as content - just ask the NSA

Posted by Christopher Hill on Jun 21, 2013 11:00:00 AM

For the bulk of my 10+ years in various jobs involving content management I found myself routinely discussing metadata at work. I don't know if I ever recall the subject arising outside of that sphere. This month that has changed literally overnight. The breaking news on the National Security Agency's PRISM program - apparently focused on collecting metadata regarding telephone calls - has brought metadata to the attention of the general public. Suddenly I'm reading tutorials on the term metadata in newspapers and magazine, hearing it defined on network television, and finding opportunities to discuss metadata with my non-technical family, friends and acquaintences. I've often said that metadata can be just as important as the content it describes, and the PRISM program serves as an excellent example of this.

I find it sometimes dismaying that even today content management problems still neglect to give proper attention to the subject of metadata. Many of the RFPs I read have highly detailed inquiries regarding the ability to work with content including re-use, componentization, and other sophisticated capabilities. Most of the time, however, they make only a few cursory inquiries regarding metadata neglecting key capabilities that can adversely affect the ability to take advantage of some of these advanced content management capabilities.

Here are some of those neglected metadata capabilities that may have a major impact of your ability to solve your content management issues.


More times than I care to remember I have worked with systems that have very little flexibility to modify metadata requirements after they are deployed. These are often related to technical implementation issues relating to the underlying architecture. You know you are working in such a situation if adding a new metadata field requires system downtime, interventions of a team of database administrators, or the cooperation of a team of programmers.

In practice such systems tend to limit metadata to a few narrow cases and fields. This is sometimes tolerable with systems dedicated to specific tactical production duties or limited content repositories. But when trying to deploy solutions horizontally through an organization or adapt a production system to a broader set of requirements or tasks it is typically easier to just deploy another content management solution than adapt the existing one. 

When I worked for a semantic text mining company we provided a tool that could extract a list of all of the important metadata values from a piece of text. This included things like lists of people, places, companies, landmarks, events, etc. present in the text. There was no artificial limit to how many of these things might be present. Unfortunately, when we worked with many companies we found their systems could only deal with a predefined number of items, and the user interfaces were not well-equipped to present or manage these lists of items.

Look for a content management system that has the flexibility to be modified over time. Inquire about how metadata is stored and the provisions to modifying and expanding it. Can metadata fields have any number of multiple values? Try to uncover these limitations in both storage as well as user interface.

Selective presentation

Another problem that plagues many systems is their assumption that all metadata fields are important to all users equally. In reality, most users are only concerned with - or even prepared to understand - a subset of the metadata on a piece of content. Compare the key interests of your editorial staff to that of your marketing team or legal department. Are you able to selectively present each potential viewer of content with appropriate metadata that serves their needs, without wading through a lot of information that isn't important to them? I have sat through many analysis meetings where representatives of every stakeholder gather around a table and spend hours, days or weeks trying to agree upon a comprehensive set of metadata.

Instead, look for your content management system to provide the capability to selectively present relevant metadata to different audiences. This should include the forms to view and edit metadata as well as a means to provide different search tools that make it easy to filter based on each category of users' requirements.Then you can maintain a large body of metadata appropriate to a wide range of requirements without overwhelming an individual user.

Context sensitivity

Today it is common for organizations ask for a content management system to provide them with the tools to re-use content. Yet even when the requirement is specified and delivered, in practice the capability often goes unused. One of the hidden reasons for this is in the inability of most systems to allow metadata to vary based on context.

In many situations a user may want to re-use a piece of content in a few places - but requires different metadata values in each place. As a simple example think of a photo caption. A caption appropriate in a novel may not work when the photo is used in a news article. Digital rights may be secured for the same photo multiple times, each needing its own context-specific representation. In countless situations like these, the inability to have some of the metadata vary by context means that users are forced to copy and paste content and cannot take advantage of the re-use tools provided by a system.

Even if the initial deployment of a system will not require contextual metadata you will probably find yourself wanting the capability at some point in the future. 

Versioning... or not

Most content management inquiries will ask about versioning content. But what about metadata? In many systems, metadata is either a required part of the version history of content - meaning that every change to a metadata field creates a new version of the content. This may be desirable for many of the fields, but there are some cases where all of the versions created by metadata changes end up generating so much noise in the content's version history that those features become difficult or impossible to use. 

At the other end of the spectrum are systems that do not version any metadata values. For important metadata values, this can be risky as there is no way to determine when or even if a metadata value was modified. 

In reality, most organizations will have some metadata they want to keep in the version history and others that they do not. Unfortunately, it is generally after they have started putting a tool in production that most people find out the capabilties of their system.

These four metadata requirements are significant in their impact of content management and can have major implications on how a system is implemented and adapted over time. While not all of these are a necessity to a single solution, their absence may make it difficult or impossible to adapt or expand your system in the future. 

You may be thinking of some other neglected metadata requirements you've run across. If so I'd like to hear about them.

Topics: content management for publishers, content management, metadata

Metadata Madness: What Publishers Already Knew

Posted by Barry Bealer on Jun 19, 2013 8:45:00 AM

Metadata Madness: What Publishers Already KnewI find it almost comical that our mainstream media is latching onto (and blowing out of proportion) the report about the NSA pouring over phone records and other data.  First, metadata is not new.  It may have been disguised as health records, or school records, or whatever, but it is not new.  People didn't care about the information in years past because it was secured and locked away on a printed piece of paper in a file cabinet at your doctor's office or at your child's school.  Fast forward to today where many of our personal records, bills, and pretty much everything else is electronic and you have a massive amount of metadata.  Yes, there is a massive amount of this metadata that lives in our world, and yes the NSA is not the only organization looking at it.

Twenty years ago when I worked at GE, we were hired by a well known large bank to develop a data mining system that would be able to forecast the likelihood of a person defaulting on a loan or missing a credit card payment.  This system aggregated a ton of metadata including financial credit scores, loan payment history, economic status, etc.  This was a commercial business, not the government, but why is this any different than the NSA using phone records to secure our country?  Aren't both organizations (banks and NSA) invading our privacy?  I am perplexed by our citizens who feel that our government is required to keep us safe, but don't want any inconveniences or intrusion in our lives.  Meanwhile, public companies, advertisers, banks and pretty much every other large business is looking at your metadata to figure out your buying behavior. This is nothing new.

Up until a few weeks ago most people in the United States had no idea what metadata was and frankly, probably could care less because it was a techie thing.  For most publishers, metadata is the backbone of their content.  Publishers have invested heavily in metadata as their printed product revenue has evolved over time into electronic product revenue.  We have touched on this subject several times over the past few years on this blog:

The Second Rule of Content Management:  Enrich with Metadata -

Centralized Metadata, Content, and Assets:  Paradise Lost -

Metadata Lessons from Google Books -

Metadata management will continue to be a key part of their publishing and product development processes.  This is one of the main reasons we developed RSuite CMS.  There was a significant void in the CMS market when it came to both content and metadata management.  We believe we have solved this issue with RSuite and welcome the opportunity to discuss our product with publishers who feel the need to more efficiently apply and manage metadata.

The recent elevation of the word "metadata" in the mainstream media probably has most publishers chuckling a bit, but the investment in metadata by publishers is very real and will continue as the ability to find content becomes ever more complex.

Topics: RSuite CMS, Barry Bealer, metadata

The Second Rule of Content Management: Enrich with Metadata

Posted by Marianne Calihanna on Nov 14, 2012 3:10:00 PM

metadata enrichmentMost publishing companies have one of those folks on staff who is intimate with the content. Someone who knows all the images that were used in a previous edition or which drug monographs couldn't fit into the printed product in time for publication. I used to be one of those people..ask me the ghost words embedded in Tabers' Cyclopedic Dictionary, 18th edition*. Even with a photographic memory, today's proliferation of content makes this skill nearly impossible. I also like to bring up the lottery scenario risk: "what happens if Jim in Production wins the lottery and all that knowledge leaves your organization?"

To effectively manage content, organizations need a handle on what they have. Publishers using a Word document system simply can't be agile in today's environment. Think about a document sitting on some file server, with all its attendant assets—images, charts, chapters and paragraphs—buried within it, and the only way to know what content is in there is for someone in your organization to remember that it’s there.

Without enriching your assets with metadata and storing them in a repository that allows you to search and find content relating to a specific topic—say, tennis elbow or the Higgs boson—you could be duplicating work recreating assets you already own, wasting time searching for those assets, and missing huge revenue opportunities to sell content granularly as a custom bundle or a focused derivative e-product.

At this year’s MarkLogic World conference, Nature Publishing Group (an RSuite CMS customer) presented an explanation of how they support what I would call ‘virtual journals’. There are very specific segments of the scientific world that would not possibly justify the creation of a full-blown journal, but when you start to realize, ‘Hey, we have this very large repository of existing journals with some articles across all of them that appeal to this market, and if we gather these articles up from all these other journals, we’ve got enough content to be of interest to this marketplace.’ Suddenly you have the option to create an online-only product (for example) with very low internal costs that is of specific interest to this niche market that previously was too small to be worth going after. It’s a long-tail concept but without applying metadata consistently and systematically this simply couldn't happen.

Metadata isn't magic and it really isn't all that complicated---you need the proper tools, workflow, and people in your organization. And once you have that set up, the fun begins---new product development, automated distribution to new licensing channels, multi-channel output.

Download our latest white paper and learn how publishers are increasing revenue with strategic content management, including metatadata enrichment. The free white paper includes two case studies from Human Kinetics Publishers and Elsevier Health Science.

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strategic CMS

*While I no longer work at that publishing company, I won't ever tell!

Topics: content management for publishers, RSuite, CMS, metadata

RSuite User Conference Spotlight: How Metadata Management is the Key Component of Findability

Posted by Marianne Calihanna on Jul 25, 2012 10:08:00 AM

RSuite User Conference | How Metadata Management is the Key Component of FindabilityAt the 2012 RSuite User Conference, Lisa Bos, CTO at RSI Content Solutions, will present "How Metadata Management is the Key Component of Findability:"

The origin of most online customer experiences is search---it’s a natural and productive first step. In publishing, making content findable and visible means managing metadata. If you don’t have metadata on your content, you won’t find it efficiently.  This presentation details how metadata management is the foundation to new product development, content discovery and re-use, and content enrichment. Lisa references customer use cases who harness RSuite’s metadata management tools as the key to unlocking content from siloed departments and repositories.

RSuite is a CMS for publishers that manages the entire content life cycle.
The RSuite User Conference is a forum for publishing and media professionals interested in learning how strategic content management and an XML-based workflow help deliver content in any format, to any channel, at any time.
You are invited to join hundreds of publishing professionals for this 1-day event.

Register for the RSuite User Conference


Thanks to the 2012 sponsors!

Topics: RSuite User Conference, RSuite CMS, Lisa Bos, metadata

Batter up, Publishers! Really Strategies will be at SSP in Boston.

Posted by Sarah Silveri on May 20, 2011 9:00:00 AM


RSuite is exhibiting at booth #34 from June 1st through the 3rd at The Society for Scholarly Publishing (#SSP)!


Schedule your time with us today and see how publishers have done the following things with RSuite:

  • reduced book production time-to-market by 8 weeks
  • automated aggregation and distribution of journal articles to licensing clients
  • Increased website traffic by more than 35%
  • and much more

Tweet about us at #SSP using the #RSuite hashtag.

Topics: RSuite, CMS for publishers, ebooks, publishing, CMS, publishing industry, book publishing, revenue, book publishers, metadata, really strategies inc, STM publishers, journal publishers

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