OK - I had a different run for this thread in mind but maybe I'll learn something from this as well :-)
Fusion in general - and the Authoring Server is no execption - has a design-centric approach towards web page creation. It reminds more to a layout program like Freehand or CorelDraw with image- and text-objects which can be moved freely around on the page. Usually, Fusion hides the HTML part completely, however you can influence it to a certain extent. To get the layout as much WYSIWYG as possible, Fusion uses nested tables and/or stylesheets.
Internally, Fusion uses a database for all the elements on the pages/site. Only when you publish the site, the actual HTML is generated. Therefore, all your (internal) links and references are always up to date.
Up to now this was nothing special compared to other HTML-generators.
What makes the NetObjects Authoring Server special is that it actually is a multi-user system! The Authoring Server installs itself on a Windows NT Server and brings its own user management. The Authoring Server uses specialized Clients, which can be installed on as many Windows PC's as you like. Those clients more or less look like a regular standalone Fusion, but they communicate with the Authoring Server. So different users can work SIMULTANEOUSLY on the same site-project, and with limitations even on the same page! This means that e.g. user A can change the klayout of one page, where user B changes content on the site! You can even define areas where content is submitted via a browser.
Again, only when you publish the actual HTML is generated.
What differentiates the NetObjects Fusion Auhtoring Server from other Content-Managemnt-Systems is, that the Auhtoring Server not only focuses on CONTENT, but also on DESIGN!
A content management system as I understand it, needs a design prepared in form of HTML templates from an external source. So in "normal" CMS, an (external) artist design the page-layout, and internal editors merely fill (textual) content in.
In the NetObjects Fusion Authoring Server, content an design is all integrated and done from WITHIN the system. So if I see that my general layout simply does not work for one page - I simply change it WITHOUT the need to change genral templates or anything else as well.
So you get all the deisgn fucntionality which makes Fusion (in general) a superb layout tool, PLUS the collaborative features to work on a site structure in a true team.