Umbraco is an open source content management system for powering websites. This means that Umbraco is free, but there are paid options that include development tools as well as various levels of support for the system. Umbraco can be highly useful in the right hands but it is not for everyone. An Umbraco CMS review can help you decide whether it will suit your needs.

Technology

Running on Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Umbraco is built using C# and ASP.NET on the .NET framework. .NET controls are supported by the CMS as-is, and can be added in with Macros. ASP.NET Ajax is also supported, using an Ajax toolkit such as MooTools, jQuery, or Prototype. Dynamic lists can be generated with XSLT, and ASP.NET Master Pages is also supported. Users have access to the Umbraco API, which has documentation.

Type of Edition

The basic version of Umbraco is completely free of charge, but there are some paid options as well. These include three popular add-ons for the system either individually or bundled together with Umbraco.tv, which consists of hours of video tutorials. Umbraco.tv can be accessed with a monthly subscription as well. There is also an additional charge to include support and bug-fixing guarantees as part of the Umbraco bundle.

Installation

Installation of Umbraco is simple; there is a walk-through on the product's website to help you through the process. If you encounter any difficulties the documentation there may be able to help you through them as well.

Features

The Umbraco CMS does not include its own unique template engine, so to create your templates you simply use whatever tool you are used to and then copy the HTML over. Dynamic content comes in through the use of Umbraco fields in the HTML template. Relatedly, there are no themes or skins for Umbraco. As far as the content itself, everything is managed through the use of Document Types. Being able to understand and use these Document Types is essential to getting the most out of Umbraco.

In Umbraco, new users are assigned a specific role that keeps them in the areas of the CMS that they need access to while not allowing them to stray into other areas. There are a few default User Types such as Writer or Editor, and you can pick and choose the permissions for each type. Another feature of Umbraco is that new versions are created with each content entity update, and you have the ability to rollback to any previous version as needed.

The dashboard of Umbraco is customizable so you can add what you need and set it up however you like. What is known as the Back Office is where things like media, content, and members are managed in Umbraco. You can also use an external editor to write content. Umbraco comes with support for Windows Live Writer and Microsoft Word 2007, but any editor that can use the MetaWeblog API should work as well. You can add blogging abilities to your website with the use of a package containing capabilities such as comments, an archive, and posts filtered by categories.

One of Umbraco's most important features is how customizable it is. Umbraco is extendable, and things like new applications, new dashboards, etc. can be added without touching the source code. There are many bundled application packages you can add to Umbraco to increase its functionality. You are also able to create and upload your own packages. The Umbraco CMS comes with built-in support for 15 languages, and more can be added if needed.

Strengths

Umbraco has several things going for it. It is built on solid technology and it is customizable enough to do whatever you need it to do. Umbraco.tv has incredibly helpful video tutorials about how to get the most out of the CMS and is so it worth the subscription price. Once you have a handle on how the system works, Umbraco is not difficult to use and really gives you a lot of flexibility. It can be used for small and large websites.

Weaknesses

However, there is a severe learning curve with Umbraco. It is not a plug-and-play CMS; it takes time to set up before it can be utilized fully, and time to become familiar with how it works. In addition, there is only so much documentation and information available with for free to help you learn the system.

Who Should Use Umbraco?

For developers and companies with a development team, Umbraco can be an ideal CMS. Prior experience with .NET is very helpful, and someone who is willing to learn might also consider this to be an excellent tool.

What Kind of Websites Should Use Umbraco?

As mentioned, Umbraco can be used for websites of any size. Several large corporate sites use the CMS, and it is also excellent for small to medium sites. A developer who knows how to work with the CMS will likely find it suits his or her needs no matter the size of the site.

Conclusion

The final conclusion of this Umbraco CMS review is that while there are some initial barriers to use, once they are overcome Umbraco does what it is intended for very well.

Categories : Web Development, CMS
Tags : cms, .NET Based CMS, Umbraco


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Author : Susan Haynes

I have been in software industry for more than 10 years. I have developed different type of software using different languages. I have knowledge in languages such as Ruby, Python, PHP, Flash, .NET, Java, and jQuery. Currently I am working as a Tech Lead in Singapore.

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