Umbraco for Noobs Part II: Time to Get Technical
Now that we’ve discussed the basics of Umbraco, it’s time to dig deeper to see what really makes it tick.
Umbraco is built on a .NET/ MVC infrastructure.
.NET was developed by Microsoft, and runs primarily on Windows.
MVC stands for “model-view-controller”. It’s a commonly-used pattern to structure applications’ responsibilities and interactions for each part within the structure. It dictates how data is processed, from end-user request, to choosing resources to meet those needs, to the actual presentation to the end-user. In a nutshell
- Model: handles data and rules (format, etc) that apply in a given situation.
- View: presents data to the user in a supported layout & format.
- Controller: receives user requests and determines the proper resources to make it happen, by calling & coordinating resources and objects needed to perform the action.
This graphic, from Net Tuts, illustrates the pathway of MVC:
Add-Ons for Adaptability.
In our previous post, we said it’s Adaptable and Customizable. That’s important for a content management system, since organizations need to manage large amounts of documents and media quickly and easily. To meet the needs of users, Umbraco provides free and paid add-ons.
- Contour: builds questionnaires and forms.
- Courier II: transfers everything from staging to live environment.
- Optimus Lite: quickens user experience.
- Prizm Cloud Doc Viewer: a document viewer that makes over 300 file types visible to visitors, without them having to install anything.
- uShare: allows visitors to share to social media with a single click. It currently supports Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Optimize It: helps users create working, more efficient, or smaller stylesheets.
What Separates it From the Rest?
There are plenty of CMS’s, so it’s natural to ask, “Why this one?” Umbraco gives us plenty of reasons to believe it’s one of the top ones available.
Server Side Macro Caching: This helps the site work more quickly, even if more people visit in a short time. It allows users to track large amounts of traffic data close to real-time, but holds it for short periods.
Razor: The Razor scripting engine is crucial. It acts as a “translator,” integrating other systems to work in harmony. Razor allows developers to code in different languages without worrying if they’ll be supported. This allows them to explore a greater range of possibilities, while staying in their comfort zone.
Strong Standards Support: Umbraco’s template engine outputs XHTML based on standards from the W3C – link to W3C --, CSS and XML. This ensures the code that is output to the browser meets all standards, without surprises or choppy code.
Intuition: Umbraco has a highly-intuitive, navigable end-user interface. Hierarchy is organized in a tree-like, true-to-site structure. Many CMS’s don’t offer this degree of organization, which can be confusing and time-consuming for someone wishing to add pages, reorganize structure, or simply access or modify a page.
“Friendliest CMS Community on the Planet”: Lastly, a strong user community assures that there’s help when you need it. Our Umbraco is an open forum where projects, documents, suggestions, a blog and Twitter feeds are accessible to anyone, as well as advice from experts and aficionados. Umbraco is interactive with its customers; it offers its own support and is active on social media, notifying members of releases, problems and fixes.
Umbraco evolves quickly to meet user needs. Umbraco 6.0 is its newest release, and it addresses previous issues through:
PetaPoco ORM: a lightweight and fast program, introduced into the data layer, which makes it more consistent.
Content & Media APIs: they’ve been revamped to be simpler, smoother, more consistent and coherent, which is great news for developers. It’ll take some time for other APIs to catch up, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Switch from WebForms to .NET MVC 4: is optional. Umbraco is also releasing packages to convert older sites from WebForms to MVC. MVC is an older concept, but better reflects today’s programming realities. It’s more intuitive in regards to building apps, a large part of Umbraco’s success. It’s flexible, feature-rich and works better out of the box. Using MVC means you can build on top of existing code, instead of hacking and modifying it to meet WebForms requirements. It allows for unit testing, so developers can spot code errors in smaller portions, as opposed to going through a whole page’s worth of code after the fact. It gives total control of HTML markup.
In our final installment, we’ll go over our own approach and experiences with Umbraco.
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