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CFDJ: Article

Interview... with Todd Peters of Paper Thin, Inc.

Interview... with Todd Peters of Paper Thin, Inc.

CFDJ: Tell us about PaperThin and what you do.
Peters: PaperThin markets and distributes a content management product based completely on ColdFusion - the CommonSpot Content Server. It targets organizations with intranets, Internets, and extranets that have distributed content management needs. CommonSpot enables nontechnical users to publish and manage the content within their site. Ideally, it's for managing the unstructured data within an organization and letting business users create, update, and manage content and its delivery, as well as managing those involved in the publishing work flow.

CFDJ: What about different user levels?
Peters: As I said, CommonSpot targets everyone involved in creating and managing the Web site from nontechnical content contributors to site designers and managers to the technical site developers.

From the developer's end of the spectrum we allow the more technical people to create underlying templates and manage the framework upon which the site's architecture is built. CommonSpot also allows the ColdFusion developer to easily integrate applications in a number of ways. Developers can get down to the iron, if you will, and write their own mini-applications or customize or extend the software. We have a number of hooks and plug-ins for users to tweak the system and customize it.

Moving across the spectrum of roles, a number of tools enable designers to manage their site's look and feel. Designers can restrict users from changing the layout, font, and color properties on the page, allowing changes only in the template. Authors can submit or update content only. On the far end of the spectrum, CommonSpot offers intuitive and wizard-driven tools that let nontechnical people, those who own the content within an organization, effectively manage their content and keep it up to date.

CFDJ: Are there ways the technical user can expand on the product, get in his or her own code?
Peters: Absolutely. We have several different mechanisms and integration points for developers. First, all the pages built with CommonSpot derive from a template, and at the base of that template hierarchy developers can write their own ColdFusion modules. These modules get included into CommonSpot as the foundation for each page. You have the flexibility in the base template to use a CF module to include our elements, as appropriate. A second point of integration is our custom ColdFusion script elements that can be managed and dropped on a page as an object or element. Third, we have Custom Rendering Handlers that allow users to change the output or the way specific elements within the product are rendered.

CFDJ: Can you give us an example of some of the companies currently using PaperThin?
Peters: Large corporate customers using CommonSpot as a means of communicating internally include Pfizer, Biogen, University of Massachusetts, and Firemen's Fund Insurance. We have large Internet sites, such as Motorcycle World, All-Terrain Vehicles, and the National Cotton Council. And we have several customers using CommonSpot to manage extranet sites; Polaroid, for one. We fit the whole spectrum of those different types of sites.

CFDJ: What's the pricing structure for PaperThin? Is it by license, or is it a onetime product fee?
Peters: We actually offer two models for pricing: a standard edition, which includes the core product plus a set of additional features you can purchase, as well as an enterprise edition with all the bells and whistles. So it's a range. Everything is done on a per-server basis. It starts at $7,500 for the core license and support for 10 content contributors. Then you can add content personalization, enterprise database support (Oracle or SQLServer), NT authentication, and clustering support.

For larger intranets we offer the enterprise edition. The single-price enterprise license includes an unlimited number of users and all the features and add-ons I previously mentioned. It runs about $45,000. And we're pleased to announce that a number of our partners will be offering CommonSpot through an ASP model. For smaller sites, where it's preferable to run in a shared environment, on a shared server, pricing is based on a monthly per-contributor fee.

CFDJ: For readers who want more information, give us your Web address.
Peters: We're thin on paper, so we're at [email protected]

More Stories By Robert Diamond

Robert Diamond is the founder and editor-in-chief of, the premiere theater site on the net now receiving over 100,000 unique visitors a day. He is also the owner of Wisdom Digital Media - a leading designer of entertainment and technology web sites. He is also the lead producer on's consistently sold-out Joe's Pub concert series, and Standing Ovations benefit concerts. Diamond was also named one of the "Top thirty magazine industry executives under the age of 30" by Folio magazine. Robert holds a BS degree in information management and technology from the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University. Visit his blog at

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