From a features point of view, Contribute CS3 is a minor revision over the previous version of the product (Contribute 4). The main changes are internal in nature, resulting in significantly improved performance.
New integration with Adobe Bridge (the suite’s file management tool) lets you use Bridge to drag and drop images and other materials onto Contribute draft pages. On the other hand, it also offers improved integration with Acrobat files. When you drag a PDF into Contribute, you can choose to link to the PDF content or embed it in the web page draft.
Contribute 4 introduced the ability to use Contribute as a blog editor for the most popular platforms. In Contribute CS3, blog editing is WYSIWYG, and the program allows you to cache the blog template so that you can edit new posts offline using your own template. If you’re using Firefox 2 (or Internet Explorer 7 on Windows), Contribute offers a new toolbar with buttons that allow you to edit the page you’re viewing, or to quote its content in a new blog post. On the other hand, there is no similar feature for Safari.
The most notable improvement is that Contribute is now a Universal binary application, which greatly improves application performance on Intel processor-based computers. Because Contribute needs to connect to websites every time it is run, it has always given the impression of being a slow program, and operations that require transactions to be carried out with the web server, such as creating a page draft, canceling a page, or saving changes to the server has always required considerable waiting time.
During my preliminary beta testing, Contribute CS3 on a 2 GHz MacBook ran three times faster compared to Contribute 4 running on a 2.5 GHz Power Mac G5 Dual. Creating a draft of a complex page It was also faster compared to the previous version, although it was not very significant either. Cancellation of drafts and posting of edited pages on the site have also been noticeably faster. In general most applications have seen improvement whether interaction with the web server was required or not.
Contribute CS3 shares the same improved page rendering engine that has been used in Dreamweaver CS3, so it displays CSS on web pages with higher fidelity. Rendering now conforms to the CSS 2.1 standard, which is supported by all three major browsers, thus ensuring that Contribute drafts have a more unified appearance across browsers and platforms.
Considering that the preliminary tests have been done using a beta version of the product, the truth is that I expect the performance to be even better in the final product. Based on the beta, my initial opinion is that Contribute CS3 is the revision that Contribute 4 should have been.