Microsoft Site Server is a full-featured web site management package that comes in two versions, Standard Edition, and Commerce Edition.
The major features of Site Server are categorised as follows:
- Administration - provides an interface to manage Site Server, provided by the now standard Microsoft Management Console tool.
- Content Manager - It is important to note that Content Management is not the same as Document Management. The Content Manager in Site Server provides authoring, editing, approving and publishing functionality, but not "standard" Document Management features, like revision history, or Check In/Out.
- Search - standard indexing and searching functionality, although it extends to a far degree beyond the functionality provided by Index Server, including finer-grained control over what content is indexed. It also is able to better categorise information based on information provided by the Knowledge Manager and Content Manager.
- Knowledge Manager - makes available, by means of "private briefs" and "shared briefs" collected and organised information on particular topics. It allows amongst other things, keyword tagging of content, cataloguing, and access control.
- Membership - as the title implies, this module allows the creation and usage of a site Membership database, which utilises an LDAP database back-end.
- Personalisation - provides functionality to personalise sites, and provide all manner of associated functionality, including customisation, user preferences and so forth.
- Analysis - fairly standard usage analysis module, much like WebTrends or Webalizer.
Commerce Edition expands the functionality of Site Server more towards, as the name suggests, a commerce-based environment.
- Pipelines - Pipelines are fundamentally a collection of COM objects implementing specific interfaces that are executed in a given order. The components are further executed in stages; each stage representing a logical "macro-step" of the process, and usually has the functionality necessary to validate the successful execution of its part of the process. This allows the simpler building of processes, such as online ordering, payment, delivery etc.
- Ad Server - this module provides the ability to control the distribution and display of banner and button ads, aspects such as click through rates, redirection URLS, determination of delivery formats, and scheduling.
Site Server isn't so much an application per se, but a set of APIs to ease application development (typically in ASP, though it'd be just as easy to write DLLs etc for thick client or custom objects). It is generally intended to run on top of Internet Information Server, Microsoft's native web server. Its feature set is quite comprehensive and although it has its share of detractors for a variety of reasons (one of which being its producer), it succeeds in doing what it sets out to quite well.