This is the first article of our Umbraco series, We will have a brief introduction of Umbraco and will go through the different ways to configure it. I am not going to bore you with indigestible technical details and jargon because KISS is my favorite design principle anyway. Let's learn Umbraco keeping it simple. Also, I'd recommend you to follow the steps practically while going though the article and by the time you'd finish it, you'll be having another artistry to add to you skillset.
I remember my days from first job when we had to send a new deployment of our web application project even for a small change like updating an image or text on webpage and those changes were frequent. I liked to believe myself a hard worker for sending those kind of changes on daily basis. After all these years, I think I could’ve worked smart instead of hard and the things would’ve gone far better. With this brief background, This answers the question why you’d need a Content Management System (CMS) for a website that has intermittent front end changes. CMS would help you change your GUI with a lot of comfort and ease and the best part is, without needing a code release to be sent to server which in distributed environments and Web Farms could be a heck of a task.
When it comes to selection of a CMS to be integrated in your website, there's a whole bunch of products available depending upon your web platform and affordability, WordPress (php) has ruled the CMS world for more than a decade and is still being used by an enormous number of websites. Other competitors include Joomla (php), Drupal (php), DotCMS (java), Orchard (Asp.Net), Sitecore (.Net) and Umbraco(.Net). Few of them are open source, others are not.
Quoting Wikipedia “Umbraco is an open source content management system (CMS) platform for publishing content on the World Wide Web and intranets. It is written in C# and deployed on Microsoft based infrastructure. Since version 4.5, the whole system has been available under an MIT License.”
Umbraco is a CMS for Dotnet Platform, it’s available for both Asp.Net and Asp.Net MVC type web applications. It uses relational database for backend and works on IIS. It’s compact, easy to use and has got a whole bunch of stunning features and it’s absolutely free!
There are a few things to consider while choosing a suitable CMS for a website and that choice may vary given to your circumstances. Why’d you choose Umbraco over others? Here are some good reasons.
First and foremost reason, I am using it so should you (wink).
It’s the most latest and versatile CMS in market for Dotnet Platform.
It’s beautiful, simple, slick and meticulous.
Can support from a small static website to an Enterprise level website at the same time.
Has a very large and active community support.
Umbraco’s been used by many popular websites like Wired, Warnerbros, Vogue etc.
Open source and free of cost.
You don’t have to be a computer nerd to use it, even its configuration is so simple all you need is a good article to get started (unlike this one). So, let’s get started readers.
Umbraco ships in two type of packages. Let’s give both the packages a try.
1) Zip Package
Zip package contains an Asp.Net website with Umbraco pre-installed in it. All you have to do is to extract the package inside a local directory, host the directory in IIS as a website and open in browser. Umbraco will guide you through the configuration steps, you can also install a starter kit that is a sample website template and is pretty fancy. Umbraco ships three starter kits along with installation package you can chose the one of your choice.
Navigate to umbraco download url and hit “Download Umbraco version*”: https://our.umbraco.org/download/
Extract the zip package into a folder and put that folder on any of your computer’s drive.
Open IIS Manager, add new website and point it to your Umbraco folder and start the website.
Now, browse this website, you’ll see the configuration page would appear, enter your name, email and password for Umbraco dashboard, remember your email id would be used as a user name for logging in dashboard. You can see you have two buttons; Install and Customize, Clicking install would get you the standard features in which you get “.sdf” database file inside your project’s “App_Data” folder. Customize on the other hand provides us with many handy configuration options. We’ll follow the customize route to get good understanding of the process.
When going for customized installation, you’ll see the database configuration options. Configure them according to your choice, Note that you’d have to specify a Database server and database name, you can create a new database on your server and you can use an existing database as well. Alternatively, you can select the SQL Server Compact Edition option from dropdown which would create “.sdf” database inside your project.
The next step in configuration would allow you to install a starter kit, starter kits are built in website templates. Let’s just select one of them for sake of learning although you won’t be needing them once you’d be well versed with the components in Umbraco Dashboard. Click on any of the three starter kits and let Umbraco do the magic.
It would take a couple of minutes and then you’ll be redirected to dashboard of your brand new website powered by Umbraco. Welcome to the Umbraco World. You can navigate to the installed website by removing Umbraco from URL. In our case http://localhost/ would show you the website
and http://localhost/umbraco would take you to the dashboard.
2) Nuget Package
Umbraco is also available in Nuget Package Repository. Follow the steps to install Umbraco using Nuget.
Create an Asp.Net or Asp.Net MVC Project in visual studio.
Open Package Manager Console and run the following command: “Install-Package UmbracoCms"
Umbraco will start installing inside your web application. Alternatively, you can right click on your project, hit Manage Nuget packages, find Umbraco CMS there and install it. There’s a slight possibility that your installation fails with error, normally updating the Nuget version solves the problem. Once the Umbraco is installed inside your project you can either run it by hitting F5/ Play from visual studio or you can host a website in IIS like we did in Umbraco installation from a ZIP package.
Once you've managed to browse your web application project in browser, All the next steps are same as ZIP package installation, specify login credentials, configure database and starter kits and Bingo! Umbraco’s installed.
Congratulations, you have had an introduction to Umbraco and you know how to configure it in multiple ways. Enough for one day. In the second part of this article, we’ll discuss about the components of Umbraco back office followed by the third article of this series about using Articulate Blog with Umbraco, till then you can play around with your installed Umbraco website and explore the features in it, I’d mention the three core components i.e. Content Nodes, Doctypes and Templates. Stay tuned for the next article.