Extranet as a Service - XtraNet

shutterstock_1028838103 (1)We launched our new XtraNet product yesterday and there was a short interview about the new service over at the Cabume website. It was great to answer some actual questions rather than just issue a press release.

I liked the Q&A format so much I thought I'd keep it going a bit longer and ask myself some questions.

The first one might be a question asked by an existing CogniDox customer.

Q. In what way is it new? Hasn't CogniDox always had extranet functionality?

It's true that CogniDox has built-in features for publishing documents to external web portals for customer download according to license entitlements. But building the infrastructure required to do that has been the responsibility of any company wanting to use the features. For some that's the way they want it. Their IT department will take responsibility. But for many it was a step too far to build the partner website or customer portal. XtraNet is a separate product for that, suitable for new or existing CogniDox users. If you are an existing CogniDox user then we'll set up an virtual private cloud instance for you and point your in-house system to it. Then we hand over a URL address (something along the lines of that you can share with customers and partners. You'll get a better price than non-customers too, because you already have licenses.

The second one could be a question arising from the screenshot in the Cabume piece - will all instances of XtraNet look more or less the same as that?

Q. What would such a website look like?

Let's first assume you want something entirely new, not based on your current branding. You could choose a Joomla template from one of the many free options or pay $15 to $75 for a commercial template. A template is a collection of files that create the layout (formatting) and look (graphic styling) of a website. Joomla is mentioned because many templates available for it are designed specifically for businesses and will be professional-looking designs. So, for example, to build the screenshot that featured in the Cabume article we went to, applied the "business" filter to reduce the number of choices, and selected a free template designed by 123WebDesign. We download the zip file, install it and customize it by integrating the CogniDox plug-in functionality (and a few other branding tweaks, such as a site name). Now all the documents licensed and published in CogniDox are 'flowing' into the template that we chose. Typically we can go from starting point to a working website in under an hour.

But most companies won't be starting from scratch. They'll have a corporate brand and a public website designed by a web design company and maybe a graphic designer. That's fine. We're really only interested in the styling of the site so we'll borrow its styling e.g. colours, backgrounds, etc for the XtraNet site, so that effectively we have a blank page in the style of the original website. We'll put that into a Joomla template and it's as above from there.

That's twice now I've mentioned Joomla. You can see that we're using it extensively for this phase of the XtraNet product lifecycle. The roadmap plan is to add WordPress next. To make that clearer, we can take an existing WordPress-based website and extract its style elements, but we won't be basing the XtraNet website on WordPress at this time.

There are probably a lot more questions to answer, but that's a start.

If you are interested in finding out more about XtraNet, book a demo where we can show you all about it.

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Tags: Document Control, Cloud, Private Cloud, Web Publishing

Paul Walsh

Written by Paul Walsh

Paul Walsh was one of the founders of Cognidox. After a period as an academic working in user experience (UX) research, Paul started a 25-year career in software development. He's worked for multinational telecom companies (Nortel), two $1B Cambridge companies (Ionica, Virata), and co-founded a couple of startup companies. His experience includes network management software, embedded software on silicon, enterprise software, and cloud computing.