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Managing Content.

Umbraco for Noobs Part I: The Overview

Umbraco is a customizable, adaptive Content Management System that allows end-users to build and grow content on their sites, without having to worry about layout and coding.

June 17, 2013

We’ve discussed Umbraco while sharing our adventures in the technology world. But what is it? We decided it’s time to give you the low-down on one of our favorite tools in helping our clients develop content, drive user engagement, and increase credibility to their customers.

In this three-part series, we’ll explore Umbraco, and give some insight to MTC’s approach with the tool.

What is it?

Umbraco is a Content Management System (CMS), which basically means it’s a program that separates management of site content (what you see) from its form and layout (how it’s made). This is especially useful for people who oversee/ edit a site day-to-day, but who don’t want to or cannot code the layout.

It was released in 2005 by Niels Hartvig and his team, and is deployed on a Microsoft-based framework. It’s used to manage over 110,000 sites around the world, including Heinz, Hershey, Vogue, and Microsoft.

It allows users to build and modify sites via one platform. Some features include:

  • Add/ remove pages and media
  • Edit content (writing, pictures, etc.) on pages
  • Integrate content from other programs (ex: blog posts from Word)
  • Create separate logins and security levels for members, admins, and visitors
  • Custom notifications based on activity (comments, content added by other admins, etc.)
  • Multilingual platform/ translation
  • The Razor scripting language to respond to other systems and create advanced functionality

To perfect user experience, add-ons are frequently created, and support is offered when integrating them into existing platforms. Along the way, internal and external tutorials and forums show how to maximize benefits of this software.

Powerful yet Simple.

Umbraco prides itself on being “powerful but simple”, and attempts to do this by separating form from content. “Form” refers to coding and site infrastructure, and “Content” is HTML pages, rich media, attachments (such as PDFs, Word docs, etc.), videos, audio files, Flash files, blog entries, etc.

It’s a powerful tool for developers, because it allows them to combine systems/ programming languages. The system is built on a .NET/ MVC architecture, which allows technical teams to create advanced applications using their programming strengths. This makes for a consistent, tailored, and above all, functioning site.

The simplicity part of the equation comes in for end-users.  Its strong templating engine and integrative nature helps developers create a clean, logical and personalized interface. Sites can be organized and compartmentalized in a hierarchical folder layout, and modified by admins as they see fit.  

Umbraco site

In the end, most of the guesswork is taken out for end-users.

Because of this approach, it is among the five most popular server applications on the Microsoft stack, and overall it is in the top ten most frequented open source (read: FREE) tools. 

Umbraco paid features

There are also different paid plans, training and add-on options, which include:

  • Guaranteed help within 24 hours
  • Architectural advising
  • Umbraco.tv
  • Licensing for production and development domains
  • Build online forms and questionnaires
  • Master classes

Who uses it?

Umbraco is used by businesses around the world, large and small. Companies that don’t employ a web development team are advised to hire a developer, or someone with a very strong background in design and programming language, to take advantage of advanced features and best practices.

Implementing it requires effort and commitment. However, once the process is complete, editors find themselves experiencing something catered to their needs.

Why we ♥ Umbraco.

As a company focused on building advanced web applications that make our customers more efficient, we appreciate Umbraco’s customizability. It allows us to fine-tune sites to meet customer needs. It’s not limited in terms of templates, so we can create unique, stand-out layouts.

It’s also adaptive. It employsRazor, an embedded language that automatically integrates other languages. The ability to respond to existing languages and programs means we can explore a greater range of possibilities when creating a site, and we can better integrate with other systems and architectures.

Umbraco allows admins to independently manage sites.  Its platform is organized and powerful once set up by a skilled developer. At MTC, we not only build great sites, but ensure our partners can control material seamlessly and effectively.

Our experience has shown that Umbraco allows just that.

Lastly, change, and helping users painlessly adapt, is a key part of their philosophy. our.umbraco.org is dedicated to questions, concerns and changes that users and experts suggest. The site highlights add-ons and projects, provides tutorials and cheatsheets, and promotes related events.  Their site also hosts a large “help & support” section.

Umbraco Help site

Umbraco 6.0 & The Future.

Their latest release is Umbraco 6.0. Since software evolves rapidly, the core team has done a massive overhaul. Version 6.0 represents what they believe is the best of the best from previous versions, with a twist that will keep them relevant in a competitive (cyber) space. These advancements will be discussed further in our next segment.

Umbraco is a relevant tool because it serves the needs of both developers and editors. We expect its popularity will grow because of its commitment to adaptation, integration, personalization and excellence.

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