Building LoB application in Orchard?

Topics: Customizing Orchard, Writing modules
Aug 10, 2012 at 2:13 AM

Hello everyone;

My first post & question. I’m a .Net developer mostly in Silverlight/WPF and then moved to ASP.Net WebForm and recently to MVC. I just began to pay attention to Orchard and I’m blown away by it’s core structure, design and so many internal features it has. It looks like a great CMS for .Net guys. So from building a site with lots of contents and providing clients with a blog system and rich site, it seems a great product.

However, if I want to write a LoB app (say in MVC), the app will have lots of Admin pages for performing CRUD operations, and most of the daily operations are very much database related pages/forms with lots of widgets (Tabs, Treeview, ComboBox, InputBox, and many more) to build a Lob apps. This is where one takes into VS and starts from scratch and builds apps. But  lot of these apps, also require lots features that are built into Orchard, like Tags, search, Blog, User, Roles, permissions and many other that are not really available to us when we build an MVC app from ground up.

So, my question to you is, is it possible to take am Orchard project as a base project and then build all those LoB pages and actions and views into it? And ending up with a CMS that has all the CMS and LoB features? Is this a feasible route to go without getting into fight with Orchard’s structure?

If yes, can I also use the same database that Orchard uses and use it's security, roles and permission for my CRUD operation and my pages as well?

If yes, what and how would be the proper way of approaching it?

I thank you in advance and if you have links, info or links to demos, it would be appreciated.

..Ben

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I’m a .Net developer mostly in Silverlight/WPF and then moved to ASP.Net WebForm and recently to MVC. I just began to pay attention to Orchard and I’m blown away by it’s core structure, design and so many internal features it has. It looks like a great CMS for .Net guys. So from building a site with lots of contents and providing clients with a blog system and rich site, it seems a great product.

 

However, if I want to write a LoB app (say in MVC), the app will have lots of Admin pages for performing CRUD operations, and most of the daily operations are very much database related pages/forms with lots of widgets (Tabs, Treeview, ComboBox, InputBox, and many more) to build a Lob apps. This is where one takes into VS and starts from scratch and builds apps. But  lot of these apps, also require lots features that are built into Orchard, like Tags, search, Blog, User, Roles, permissions and many other that are not really available to us when we build an MVC app from ground up.

 

So, my question to you is, is it possible to take am Orchard project as a base project and then build all those LoB pages and actions and views into it? And ending up with a CMS that has all the CMS and LoB features? Is this a feasible route to go without getting into fight with Orchard’s structure?

If yes, what and how would be the proper way of approaching it?

Coordinator
Aug 10, 2012 at 3:57 AM

Sure. It won't necessarily be the most pleasant experience as CRUD is not the focus of the Orchard design but well, anything you can do in MVC you can do in Orchard. It would require more specifics to say any more than this however.

Oct 5, 2012 at 12:03 AM

I am thinking about using Orchard the same way, as a backbone of a small LoB application.

Are there any projects or documentation about using Orchard that way or is the project focus limited to CMS application only?

Oct 5, 2012 at 12:33 AM

I spent some time analyzing the idea, the product, looked at the database structure and kind of figured what it would take to build an app around and within this product. And the reality is that, although it has many nice features for LoB apps, but the extra stuff and the updates they release and for me to constantly trying to fit everything together, is more hassle (in the long run) than build an app from scratch.

It’s like you try to build a house inside of an existing house. Just get a piece of land and build a nice house from ground up… J

Hope that helps!

__________

Best Regards;
Ben Hayat

Telerik MVP (Most Valuable Professional)
Phone: 239-254-8914
http://MicroIntelligence.Com

From: michalporeba [email removed]
Sent: Thursday, October 04, 2012 7:03 PM
To: ben@microintelligence.com
Subject: Re: Building LoB application in Orchard? [orchard:390953]

From: michalporeba

I am thinking about using Orchard the same way, as a backbone of a small LoB application.

Are there any projects or documentation about using Orchard that way or is the project focus limited to CMS application only?

Oct 19, 2012 at 2:37 PM

I am working on this exact same need.

The way I see it is you can certainly use Orchard for controlling things like themes and the "content" of a site and build modules that handle the LoB aspects.
My LoB has a need that everything be "commentable" and "taggable" and Orchard provides great functionality for this out of the box - though I may have to extend some of it for specific needs.
Nothing in Orchard prevents your modules from using a full-on "system" composed of services, messages bus, etc. You probably wouldn't want to create your LoB (domain objects) because that would make consuming your "data" a bit of a pain in other systems - because Orchars is very XML-Centric in the way data is stored. Everything else, though, can be done very well, IMO. Just build all the "businessy" pieces as normal MVC areas that happen to have a nice Orchard shell around them.

I've done it already on a few smaller projects - the one I am working on now is larger and much more complex, so I am curious if you all think I should not be using Orchard for this.

Will

Oct 19, 2012 at 3:10 PM

Hi,

we have specifically been creating an LOB app within Orchard, and while many parts of it are great, you need to evaluate what you want to achieve. If you need CMS facilities and a widget framework. Orchard has advantages. The fact that Modules provide a common structure means it is reasonably easy to farm off discrete items for development in isolation. You can add MVC controllers with actions and routing via these modules, so in many ways you can work within your comfortable MVC style environment.

Orchards structure really drives people towards Dependency injection and interface based programming, and I really like this fact. I have learnt a hell of a lot simply by inspecting code from the core projects.

However

If you are trying to develop in a classic .NET form there are several gotchas.

  • Orchard expects you to write all your code in modules, the packaging features (a la Nuget) do not understand project references, meaning you will have difficulties if you are trying to drive most of your business logic code though (a series of) separate dlls. We've had to fall back to post-build commands to copy output dlls to a library location, and reference those in the modules instead
  • There are some current issues with razor views referencing classes not inside an Orchard module (it fails completely, and you need to manually copy dlls into your deployment bins. 
  • I've also experienced problems using VS for modules when not using the full source code enlistment as my solution. We've just gone back to running a solution that is extended from a copy of 1.5.1 source, as despite the mass of projects, it is the only way to get reliable build/debugging. It also makes continuous integration / builder server much easier to work with, although it increases total build time of a build server job on TFS preview from 2mins to 10mins.
  • It's pretty hard to work out sometimes were an error is occurring in Orchard/your code. Orchard tends to mask a lot of errors, and the many layers of abstraction and threading mean you can be debugging a lot of core Orchard code to get to the root of a problem in your code
  • Even when creating MVC controllers/actions views you won't get the MVC scaffolding features that you would get in a true Visual Studio MVC3/4 project

If you don't actually need CMS features or a widget/module framework you are adding a big chunk of complexity without a large amount of gain. If this is true of you, you are probably better of with MVC4, and a good dependency injection/IoC container. I've found autofac (used by Orchard) to be pretty good, and it will really improve the power of your MVC code, and ability to unit test, gaining many of the "clean code" benefitrs of the Orchard project. You can also borrow a lot of excellent coding technique from the great stuff the Orchard team have produced. If you are new to dependency injection then I highly recommend Dependency Injection in .NET as a starting point.

 Roles and permissions are readily available within the .NET framework, in fact the default MVC4 templates are ready to roll with authentication, roles and even OAuth integration.

MVC Scaffolding and Entity Framework Code first will make rather short work of the CRUD screens, as it will create a lot of your UI for you.

 

In short, there is no quick answer, and you need to be prepared to learn a lot of under the hood Orchard to make it work well for you in a controlled environment, but I hope I've helped outline some pros and cons.

Nov 26, 2012 at 11:15 AM

@LordSaul

Awesome Info

Thanks