My adventure to find the most outstanding CMS

Published: 20th December 2011
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On my venture to find a suitable CMS I've ducked in and out of DotNetNuke, tried Telerik and the more business oriented ones like Sitecore. However by far my most-liked to date is Umbraco. In this write-up I set about outlining why I appreciate Umbraco so much and just how working with it has made not only my life less complicated but has bolstered my vocation.

I was introduced to it in its early 3.0 days and at the time our business was doing a mass review of almost everything out there. One of the employees there took a particular chance with the very little known Umbraco CMS, something which I remember more for its bizarre sounding name. In time we made a few web-sites for clients with it and knew that there really wasn't much we couldn't do with it. I even recall Niels Hartvig coming to our office in Australia provide some training. Nice enough bloke although I was beside myself that I never got to go to the training due to other work demands.

When I went back to the UK I began work for a travel company supplier who hired me as one of their three architects. The client project was of a decent size and although the company specialised in travel API's and the like, I also came to understand that client was also after a CMS. It was a key venture but it created several fantastic outputs:

1. Due to the fact Umbraco will only work with UserControls it compelled us to modularise all of our existing core components. This actually caused us to think more meticulously about our architecture and in the end lead to the generation of a set of completely reusable components which were deployable in any project, whether for Umbraco or not. The fact the Umbraco enables you to pass in parameters to the controls via the CMS was a great selling factor. This meant that system managers could modify certain features of the booking workflows, revise dropdowns and make changes to pricing models. In one instance we had a tough time trying to get the client to agree on the way the airport selector should function. In the end the answer was to provide all the available alternatives and allow them to switch these on and off at the leisure. Trying each one out allowed them to get some practical customer feedback and because it was all maintained in Umbraco they didn't need to keep coming to us to ask for the change.

2. Several levels of access ensured that certain marketing staff could be given specific nodes in the Umbraco tree. Coming from a control standpoint this was a real win/win. Marketing managers could leave their marketing team in charge of key areas of the promotional aspect of the sites without having to stress about overlaps and duplication of effort.

3. The fact that it was so well recognized was another bonus for me. I remember being in a coaching meeting with the same client and we were talking about Umbraco macros. In the course of the presentation I lost my way and one of the participants was able to get me back on track simply because he had used Umbraco himself.

I'm happy to say that this project was a significant success and in large measure this was credited to Umbraco's ease of use and therefore upcoming adoption.

Since then I've worked well for smaller companies and whenever the need arises for some framework in any project I often like to suggest Umbraco as a starting point. Since it has so many features out of the box to help you get you started I often feel its a no brainer. With the new Razor and Cloud incentives I think its just a matter of time before this becomes the defacto open source standard for all .net CMS's.

If your still tintering on the sides and wondering if its worth the time and investment then give me a call. I can promise you will not be disappointed and remember its still free.

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