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Learning Orchard - Website "files" layout and content

Topics: Customizing Orchard, General
Oct 25, 2011 at 7:11 PM


I am proof that Orchard has succeed in one of it's goals. I am a totally green end user that has educated himself enough to created a new website with Webmatrix and an Orchard theme.  For an out of the box startup - this is a fantastic resource!  Well done Orchard!

My end goal for my site is to add:

  • ebook content for general users, and separate content for paying customers
  • video content for general users, and separate content for paying customers

To achieve my goal can you please advise:

  1. Where can I learn more about the website files structure (I'm learning more each day about how to write code, I need to learn the right place to ADD my code to customize my website.)  CSS files seem to be pulling information from several files, and I'd like to learn more about WHERE it is pulling from. 
  2. Where can I learn more about ebook and video code and content (I've already read the Orchard documents section on the issue, but need a little more knowledge)
  3. Where can I learn how to add "subscribers" code and CMS to my website (I've learned the basic concepts about layering through Orchard docs/videos)
  4. Where can I learn how to add "payment" ability to my website

I'm starting a small business (and my website) to create my own opportunities as a way out of the recession for my family, so your help is appreciated!

THANK YOU for helping me educate myself!  I'm eager to learn, I'm just having trouble finding the right place to look... 




*See Below Link - Orchard Audience:

Topic: Who is the audience for the Orchard effort? Are you focused on developers, users, or both?

Quote: "end-users who want to quickly build a site using only an application's interface"

Oct 25, 2011 at 7:29 PM

Glad to hear that :)

1. We need more documentation about that sort of thing, but this may be a good place to start: Not sure what you mean about CSS: those are perfectly static files. What does happen though is that layout and potentially modules can ask for more CSS files to be included by calling Style.Include (a search on this may help).

2. Not sure about this. Do you mean specifically as it relates to Orchard?

3. If you just want your users to be able to register themselves, there is a users section under settings in the dashboard where you can configure that.

4. That's the tricky one. There is a good Amazon Checkout module on the gallery but that's pretty much your only ready-made option at this point. You might want to hire someone to build that if the Amazon thing is not enough for your needs. Another solution is to manage things more manually, directly with customers through a contact form of sorts. It really depends on the sort of business you are doing.

Oct 26, 2011 at 12:21 AM

Hello Bertrandleroy,

Thank you for your input!  Firstly, I apologize for the below novel, but I wanted to get add the clarity you requested above...

1) I believe the above link provides a little more detail, however, what I am looking for is a road-map for all files created to make the website (and theme) and the relationships between all of the files.  I didn't have a website before I started, now I have a website and need to know which files to edit to go from what I currently have (which is an awesome starting point) to where I want to be.  I believe my confusing reference to CSS may be due to my lack of knowledge/understanding of how all of the files created to make the website play in the sandbox together.  Remember, while I'm tech savvy, I have ZERO web development knowledge.  Orchard has given me one  heck of a jump start, but I'm left with a steep learning curve with little direction on how to move forward.  Lets use an orchestra analogy to discuss the issue simply:

1a) My understanding is that .html files containing code are in separate file folders.  Each .HTML file = a musician.  Code in each .HTML file = sheet of music being read by each musician.

1b) each separate .HTML file represents different parts of the website = different instruments (tuba/flute/violin)

1c) the site.css file appears to be = the Orchestra Conductor tying the musicians effort together (on the Server, BEFORE the end user receives the information on their browser).  (is the site.css only for themed webpages, or all webpages?)

So conseptually I'm trying to understand:

1d) As I'm customizing my website going forward, when do I need to A) make changes to the sheet of music B) which sheet of music to I need to make changes to C) do I also need to make changes to the music Conductor that ties everything together. For example: If I wanted to write in the code for a videow (see example here: which .HTML file would I write it into in order for it to appear on the main page?  I need to know that before I can then determine how to place it where I want to on said page, ect...  From my point of view learning "What' do do is found more easily than "where" to apply the knowledge.  The link provided above was written with a "Theme creator/developer" in mind as the reader.  As it was not written with a "green website user/builder" in mind and it does not discuss all of the files used to create a website.  I believe a website file "flowchart" would provide a macro level Map helping a beginner understand the relationships between the files used to make a website work, and where to apply the code they want to fix their problem.  For example: I wanted to change the color in one of the themes - I understood what the HTML color code format was, but WHERE did I need to look to find it???  It took me some time, but I figured out the site.css file contained the color codes, then I typed in each color code on the site.css into a website tool until the color I wanted to change popped up.  I changed the color code to what I wanted, and now I have the color I want.

2.)  Can I "attach" a video to my site using the Orchard interface?  If so, then Yes as it relates to Orchard.  If Orchard is not yet capable of drag/drop for video, then I would like to know where I can learn how and WHERE to write the background code for it to appear in my desired location. has video html language I think may work, but I still need to learn where to write it.

3a) Will the dashboard settings allow the admin to assign which "layers" they are given access to? Registrations = access to more "in depth" layer I've created. 

3b) Can I add the ability to pay for subscription to the registrations, or do they need to be separate? 

4) My business model is consulting.  I have very specialized skills and experience that companies large and small will find value in.  At this point, the market potential is huge, and the availability of information is very small and overly complex.  My planned methods of "selling" my knowledge on the website will be in ebooks and Videos that explain the process in a simple way with progressively more layers of detail.  I would like the first time website user to access an ebook, worksheet, and/or video designed for basic intro into the subject.  Once they have determined there is value in the product and my service, then they are offered an opportunity to purchase an annual subscription which will give the user access to additional ebooks, worksheets, and videos I've created.  In total I would think to have less than 50 different ebooks and videos combined, so we are not looking at a massive "Amazon" database of items for retail sale.  Do you believe the Amazon Checkout module you've mentioned will be robust enough and appropriate for this type of use?  Or does this fall under more specialized skills sets that a developer would need to assist me with?  If I need a developer - what skill sets should I be looking for them to have?

Thank you VERY MUCH for your time and for sharing your knowledge!

Best Regards,


Oct 26, 2011 at 12:31 AM

I think you need to install and enable shape tracing (from the designer tools module) to better understand what renders what.

Before you do anything in code, you should first check if there is ready-made module on the gallery. For video, there are a few, do a search on the gallery.

For restricting layers to specific user roles, there is this:

3b: no, the registration is not subject to payment. Your services should.

Looks like Amazon should be fine for that sort of thing.