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Umbraco: The Microsoft .NET-based Open-source CMS

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Originally released in 2001, Umbraco is one of the only open-source content management systems built on ASP and Microsoft’s .NET technology stack.  To no surprise, the platform isn’t necessarily made for beginners, yet developers who prefer to utilize .NET web technologies.  For those who are not familiar, this article will provide more detail on the features and capabilities of the Umbraco CMS.

Core Technologies

Umbraco is a content management solution that thrives off Microsoft web technologies, running on the Windows Server platform and SQL Server or VistaDB database system.  Built on the NET 2.0 framework, ASP.NET 2.0 and C#, it supports both NET User Controls and .NET Customer Controls without having to do much at all as they can easily be added using macros.  The CMS also provides you with full access to the Umbraco API, which has more than 15,000 lines of code.

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Unlike other open-source systems, Umbraco doesn’t have a template engine, yet a single template system, which can be viewed as both an advantage and disadvantage.  The good aspect is that you do not have to learn a brand new programming language in order to create your website.  With Umbraco, you can design your site with a popular tool such as Abode DreamWeaver or FrontPage, cut and paste the HTML code into the template editor and save.  When you render a page using the template system, the content can be automatically displayed in dynamic fashion.

The Umbraco CMS gives you complete control over your website design.  There is no need to scan the web for themes as the design can be anything you desire.

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Umbraco Content

In the Umbraco environment, the core foundation of your site is the Document Type.  The Document Type refers to the type of content that can be incorporated into your website.  Prime examples include Articles, News Items, your HomePage and SearchPage.   Determining how Document types work is key to grasping the Umbraco application itself.  While this isn’t the easiest part to decipher, once you get a solid understanding of these concepts, the rest of system will become much easier to comprehend.

Administrative Functions

The Umbraco Back Office is where you can perform a variety of administrative tasks.  The number of tasks others can perform all depends on their roles and permissions.  Some of the management options you have are dealing with scripts, custom templates, media and document types, style sheets and programming languages.  There is also a section made for developers, allowing you to perform actions such as adjusting browser cache settings, manage data types, create macros, Python files and more.

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The Umbraco CMS makes an ideal solution for the Microsoft .NET savvy developer.  It has become very popular over the last few years, now averaging approximately 7,000 downloads per month.  Though not an out-of-box, user-friendly content management tool like Joomla or Mambo, Umbraco’s power and straightforwardness makes it a winner.  If you’re looking for a .NET-driven system to create a content-rich, dynamic website, the Umbraco CMS is worth checking out.


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