Monthly Archives: April 2013

What is CQ5 and will Adobe kill its Golden Goose?

CQ5 logo (one of the many)

What is CQ5?
CQ5 is Adobe’s flagship Content Management System and the leading CMS in the market. Like any CMS you can use it to build and maintain your web presence, but more importantly you can use it to capture your online visitor behaviour and convert customer interest into sales. It works on multiple platforms (so its totally compatible with browsers, ipads, smart phones etc) and it uses the latest HTML5 technology, so it looks great.

What’s so good about it?
It seems that Day Software, from whom Adobe bought the platform, just got it right. Developers report that its easy to use, it’s powerful, it’s scaleable, it integrates with 3rd party systems well, it deploys nicely, the list seems to go on and on. But I think from a market perspective it’s so popular because 1) it uses HTML5 (so visually it looks great) and 2) it does all the things that top ecommerce companies like Facebook do (under the guise of “community engagement” and “customer experience” etc); so most importantly its an easy sell to business heads and CEOs.

The technology:
CQ5 is a Java-based CMS, and by making it multi-platform it’s taken Java’s “Write Once Run Anywhere” philosophy and applied it in a modern setting. The stack is essentially JSPs and HTML5 but it also uses Sling and JackRabbit, and it sits on an OSGi service platform.

The Past:
CQ5 was written by Day Software in Basel, Switzerland, and was the application side of their Enterprise Content Management offering (the infrastructure side being called Day CRX). CQ die-hards will tell you that in the early days (until about 2005) the platform was written in server-side JavaScript, but the most interesting thing about the history of CQ is its identity complex:

The Many Names of CQ (in chronological order):
– Day Communiqué WCM
– Communiqué
– Day Software’s CQ
– Adobe CQ
– Adobe WEM
– Adobe WCM
– Adobe Experience Manager or AEM (now its current manifestation)

The Present:
CQ was bought by Adobe mid 2010 but the market for CQ (and so for CQ developers) really kicked off in 2011. It came into my sights last year when I noticed that big companies like IG Index and Nike were using it, since then it’s increasingly been picked up by global banks and wealth managers – obviously Adobe came along and its fortunes quadrupled.

The cost is one thing to note however, as the license is notoriously expensive and because many companies’ CQ experience starts out with specialist consultancies, that cost is multiplied even further. Interestingly there is an Open Source (read “free”) CMS by a renegade Day team called “Magnolia” but despite also being Java-based it remains a commercial nonentity.

The Future of CQ5 and “Will Adobe Kills its Golden Goose?”
Adobe is busy adding new functionality to their “AEM” – by integrating it with their already extensive software suite – in an attempt to maximise the commercial return on its current popularity. Which makes you wonder how long it will be before they start to close down its open source compatibility and lock subscriptors in to only using their branded products. It also makes you wonder how long it will be before so many Adobe products have been integrated into the platform that they start to kill it through “bloatware”.

Many developers tell me that they suspect Adobe’s constant name changing is a result of their failure to actually understand what CQ’s market is, and why it is a commercial success. The latest name is “AEM”, and if they aggressively push this and seek to push out the “CQ” brand they are going to damage their brand recognition and lose customer loyalty – which is going to make it much easier for the next competitor to push them out of the market.