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Five reasons why I love Orchard CMS

George Roubie | 07/07/2016 | Orchard, CMS

There are many Content Management Systems (CMS) available nowadays and as Front-End developer, I’ve tested a bunch of them. My journey with Orchard CMS starts in 2013, when I joined SiEBEN, as a Junior Web Developer. Τhe first version I used was Orchard 1.7. Since then, I' m implementing many web applications, with the latest version of Orchard (1.10.1). Orchard is a free, open source, community-focused Content Management System built on the ASP.NET MVC platform. 

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When setting up a new website, there are a lot of factors to consider, like your design and domain name, but the most important of all is choosing the right platform. This is crucial and not a decision to be taken lightly.


There are three
ways you can use Orchard CMS:

  • If you are a Module Developer, you can download the entire solution from the GitHub.

  • If you are a Theme Developer, you can download the Orchard CMS Web Version from the Microsoft Web Application Gallery. The easiest way to do this is with the Microsoft WebMatrix. The installation is fast and you do not even need SQL Server because Orchard CMS can run with SQL Server Compact.

  • If you are a User, who wants to use only the Themes and Modules that community has created, you can sign up and create any number of Orchard sites you want in DOTNESTDOTNEST is the Orchard content management framework as software as a service.

My Favorite Features

1. Shape Tracing and Placement.info

Content customization is a piece of cake with the combination of Shape Tracing and Placement.info. Shape Tracing is a module, that lets you see and generate from a user interface, all the shapes of a content. A content consists of parts and fields. These parts and fields are views files (Razor), called "Shapes".


With the Shape Tracing, you can see the Model and the Placement of the selected Content.  

The Placement.info is an XML file that can:

  • Change the order of a shape
  • Change the zone of a shape
  • Remove a shape
  • Change the shape name


Example:

<Match ContentType="Page">
    <Match DisplayType="Detail">
        <Place Parts_Title="Header:1;Wrapper=Page_Title" />
        <Match Path="/">
            <Place Parts_Title="Header:1;Wrapper=Page_Title_Home" />
        </Match>
        <Place Parts_Tags_ShowTags="Header:2" />
        <Place Parts_Localization_ContentTranslations="Content:1" />
        <Place Parts_Layout="Content:2"/>
        <Place Parts_Common_Metadata="Footer:1" />
    </Match>
</Match>



2. Dynamic Forms

You can create any number of forms in your website with 'drag and drop' functionality. 


Every form has editable features:

  • Client Validation for better UX
  • Store the submitted form into the database 
  • HTML encode submitted values to prevent code injection
  • Notification message that users see after the form has been submitted
  • Redirect URL after the form has been submitted



3. Blogs

Orchard's Blog module is really great and easy to use. You can create as many blogs as you want. Some of the features are the following:

  • Categorize your blog posts with Tags 
  • Recent blog posts widget
  • Publish later a blog post
  • User roles for Editor and Authors
  • Blog Post Comments
  • Blog RSS Feed
  • Tag RSS Feed



4. Dashboards

With the new Dashboards module, you can customize the Dashboard page explicitly for your client. For example, you can create a form that your client will use for contacting the customer support. Or, you can add a video tutorial for the CMS.



5. Audit Trail

With the Audit Trail module, you can see the progress of a Content. You may restore your content to a previous version and if you delete it, you can restore it. Finally, audit trail provides support for role related events and user related events.


For those features and other more functionalities, I will definitely suggest Orchard CMS for your next Website.