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Umbraco really is for nerds


By ben - on Fri Nov 25 2011 - 1 comment - share this article facebooktwitteremail+1

Umbraco probably ranks highest in content management systems (in my opinion... so far...) in terms of ease of use for clients/administrators and in being a complete website management tool (not just a single purpose blog tool or a multi-purpose data editor). But to put into perspective - how equally nerdy it is..

I recently had the task of putting a month's worth of small tweaks to a website live. Quite a big and stressful task no matter how well documented your changes are.  I decided to try out 'Concierge' which is a core package for keeping track of changes in umbraco. It is brilliant and detailed and provides a report on all the dependencies of all your components, provides new functions like check-in/check-out of content page (really cool actually but not the point) and appears to have some decent change tracking on content too. But load it up on a site with dozens of templates, even more macros and many hundreds of pages and that incredible detailed report becomes a tad ridiculous.

Fortunately - umbraco is also for nerds. So feeling inspired and in less time than a prototyping meeting I used all the standard umbraco class libraries (code) and wrote myself my own report, which dumps only the information that I want to a text file. Run that on both new and old versions of your website and with the magic of a file comparison tool you have a report on all the fiddly changes myself and co-workers have made over the last month.

Still inspired, a whole weekend later and still making absolutely no modifications to umbraco or writing any custom database queries, I decided to re-write that report so that it runs automatically every time I make changes in the umbraco admin tool, that text file is now saved to the file system, meaning that our source-control system is now keeping a history of all the key aspects of umbraco database (cool). That was achieved in less time than a trip to the ponsonby food court.

Now, any real developer like myself can look at a content management system, figure out where all the information is stored and come up with some way to create a report or view of the differences between 2 copies of a website, but to work with a system which exposes all of that through it's basic class libraries is 'nice'. To be able to create a solution which binds that report to events occurring whenever changes are made and put that information somewhere useful, without modifying a single line of umbraco source code.. that is nerdy.

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