|Developer(s)||Apache Software Foundation|
0.9 / Template:Release date
|License||Apache License 2.0|
Apache Forrest is a web-publishing framework based on Apache Cocoon. It is an XML single source publishing framework that allows multiple types of data-files as input, such as various popular word processing and spreadsheet files, as well as two wiki dialects. Plugins are available to support additional formats, both for input as well as output (such as PDF).
Forrest is not a content management system (CMS), as it lacks the full workflow and admin functions of a CMS. Its primary use is in integrating and aggregating content from various sources and presenting them in a unified format for human consumption. "Single source" is this context does not mean that it is restricted to aggregating from only a single source, but rather that the multiple output formats can be maintained whilst still only needing to maintain a single source document.
Explanation and features
Forrest is basically applied for rapid development of small sites, where time and budget constraints do not allow time-wasting HTML experiments. Of course, it can scale up to large projects. Your development team does not need Java experience, or even XML skills, to use Forrest. The framework lets you concentrate on content and design.
By separating content from presentation, providing content templates and pre-written skins, Forrest is unequalled at enabling content producers to get their message out fast. This separation of concerns makes Forrest excellent to publish project documentation (notably software projects), intranets, and home pages, and anything else you can think of.
Forrest is built on the world's leading XML application framework, Apache Cocoon, which provides advanced users with extremely powerful publishing capabilities.
Running as a webapp has a major advantage during development: content can be written, and then the rendered output viewed almost instantly in a web browser. This webapp technique enables Forrest's edit/review cycle to be faster than command-line transformation tools.
History and vesions
Apache Forrest was started in January 2002, with the major use-case being to create a consistent and efficient xml.apache.org group of project websites with a uniform, lightweight, easy-to-navigate layout and structure. In addition, Forrest was to be a Sourceforge-like project management tool, complementing Apache Gump (hence the name 'Forrest'). See the Apache XML and Apache Cocoon mail lists around end 2001 (e.g. here and here / here). Forrest became a top-level project in May 2004.
The focus shifted for Apache Forrest to primarily be a generic documentation tool capable of meeting many needs. Certain relevant project management facilities are being added.
Apache Forrest is currently progressing rapidly through a series of 0.x releases. It is certainly usable now (despite not yet being version 1.x). See the growing list of example sites including many Apache sites.
In general, prior to 1.0, ensuring quality of design will be considered more important than retaining backwards-compatibility. Users (particularly those with custom sitemaps and skins) should be aware that this is evolving software, and read the release notes carefully before upgrading. That said, we appreciate the commitment in time that adopters make, and will not make capricious or undocumented backwards-incompatible changes.
Documentation on the Apache Forrest website exists for various versions including the latest release, the current development, and past releases. All versions of Forrest include their own copy of the documentation. There is also documentation for each plugin and the forrest seed site contains further examples and documentation (see FAQ).