Steve, not sure I can answer all your questions, but I'll take a swing at some.
My question is, the process I don't think it a great experience. For example there is no intellisense in Razor views, actually it doesn't like Razor at all and wont compile check it and how to I simply test my views.
Have you had a look at the thread on
intellisense in views? There's a web.config you can add to your module that will fix that
I used the codegen tool and opened the project that it creates and starting developing with that.
How are people doing the development?
Same way, for me. The codegen tool is pretty helpful.
Couple of other questions...
How would I go about developing a "special" once off page for the home page? I can see how to edit the layout for all pages in the theme, but not individual page.
So, all shape templates follow a naming convention that you can override, down to the item level: http://www.orchardproject.net/docs/Accessing-and-rendering-shapes.ashx, and also if there's some means by which you want to change that behavior (e.g. testa
property and then render a specific view), then you can do this: http://weblogs.asp.net/bleroy/archive/2011/01/10/orchard-shapeshifting.aspx. I havent' done it specifically for the home page, but it's certainly possible.
Does orchard have a similar concept as "Web parts" ? So I can develop something like a part for a twitter reader and drop it into a zone a page?
yeah, that's a widget.
What are the recommendations for deploying an Orchard project once its been developed?
You should not touch the orchard code, if you can, just deploy the site from the WPI or zip. All of your work should be packaged either as a Module or Theme, and then run through the packaging tool, which you can then import through the web interface. Alternatively,
you can also just copy your module into the /modules folder or your theme into the /themes folder.
I was thinking about downloading the source and developing the app in there - but would prefer really to stay away from that and develop my stuff on top of Orchard.
It's actually a good idea to use the full source for your dev environment, so you can step through, etc. You should do your production server as just the Orchard.Web project, and then the unit of update for you is at the module or theme level.