BroadVision Upgrade Renews Core Strengths

California-based BroadVision, a developer of self-service Web applications, announced Thursday that it has released QuickSilver 2.0. The new version represents a significant upgrade to the application, which lets content managers and Web designers create and publish lengthy and complex documents in multiple formats, such as HTML, PDF and PostScript.

QuickSilver is used to manage content at organizations including Boeing, Ford Motor Company, Lufthansa, Morgan Stanley and the U.S. Postal Service. It enables companies to streamline creation of new documents, such as complex technical manuals with thousands — or even hundreds of thousands — of pages.

Now, the latest update will allow BroadVision’s customers to put those documents online without retagging or reformatting the information.

Important Upgrade

The core of the application is quite a bit older than some other content management and creation suites; it was created by Interleaf nearly 20 years ago. When BroadVision acquired Interleaf in 2000, it inherited the technology and renamed it QuickSilver.

This release marks the first major upgrade to the product since BroadVision’s acquisition. Kitty McGahey, the company’s product line manager for QuickSilver, told CRM Buyer that the new functionality will have a major impact on how the application is used.

Specifically, McGahey noted, the upgrade allows customers to put documents on a Web portal with minimal transition time.

“Instead of huge files, you can break it down into a hierarchy,” she said. “It also mirrors a printed document. So, if I’m a Lufthansa executive and I’m looking at a page on the portal, I can reference it to my head mechanic half a world away, and he can find the page instantly in his printed manual.”

New features include multi-file publishing to the Web, intra- and inter-file links, and personalization based on qualifiers, categories and attributes established in the portal environment. These features give QuickSilver users the ability to break down documents into sections, assign access to portal visitors and create cross-referenced hyperlinks inside documents automatically.

Meeting a Need

Previously, documents created with QuickSilver had to be printed on paper or viewed on a CD-ROM. Although some companies were interested in formatting complex documentation for viewing through a company portal, many found the process far too tedious and expensive to be feasible.

Those companies that did try to convert documents for viewing on the Web found that doing so necessitated weeks of manual HTML coding or resulted in massive PDF files that could not be opened by most computers.

The drive to put documents on company portals was spurred by both BroadVision’s goals and customer requests, McGahey said. She noted that the company’s clients, especially those in manufacturing and government, repeatedly have asked for easier ways to put documentation online.

“Every customer we’ve talked to has said that they need to do this, and they need to do it easily,” she said. “Trying to put a technical manual for something like an airplane into one PDF file is just laughable.”

Bringing It Together

The ability to create complex documents and post them on customer portal sites or on an intranet is an important step, agreed Michael Maziarka, an analyst at Cap Ventures.

He told CRM Buyer that many companies still struggle with how to effectively deliver content through multiple channels.

In the past, he said, “In a lot of cases, companies had different people working on different channels.” This separation of duties often resulted in inconsistent information and inefficiencies as well as problems with branding.

“A company’s message just was not being consistently conveyed,” Maziarka said.

Company Impact

QuickSilver’s evolution may have an additional impact for BroadVision. In essence, the upgrade to its flagship product could give BroadVision some clarity about its operations and could dispel any confusion that might exist about the company’s core direction.

Corey Manley, the company’s media relations director, told CRM Buyer that in the early 1990s, BroadVision was an e-commerce company. As e-commerce started to slow down, the firm became known as a portal company.

“As a result of changing from e-commerce to a portal company, we looked a little schizophrenic,” Manley said. “But I think that over the past year, after a lot of stabilization of our self-service suite, we’re where we want to be.”

Maziarka of Cap Ventures noted that the release of version 2.0 will tap into the need for better authoring tools and put the company in a good position in the future. “BroadVision will have a much larger … customer base going forward,” he said. “They’ve branched out.”

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