How to improve a current Orchard 1.5 system

Topics: General
Jan 24, 2013 at 12:11 PM
Edited Jan 24, 2013 at 7:50 PM

Hello Orchard Team

We currently are using orchard as the cms web site for our organisation and have worked very hard in setting up this solution and enjoyed working with your code. How we were very disappointed to find out that a non developer has been tasked with job of evaluating other solutions to replace orchard. He has come up with Composite C1. (http://www.codeplex.com/site/users/view/DBailey635

I would just like to know if anyone in your team has any opinions, pros, cons to the proposed Composite C1. 

 

Thank you for any feedback

Jan 24, 2013 at 1:45 PM

None of this will answer your questions, but I am curious to know, was someone in your organization unhappy with Orchard? Why did they decide to look for other solutions instead of Orchard? Which version were they using? 

Jan 24, 2013 at 7:47 PM

There are several issues as to why people are not satisfied with the current website, but they are not all cause by Orchard.

There are two issues I can see that are related to orchard and that is:
- Orchards slow response time and we were hoping that newer versions would be much faster.
- Users have a issue when editing content, they don't like the admin area and the process of finding and editing content. However this is something we can change, but no one is communicating with us on what they think would be an improvement.   

NOTE: you don’t have to read on it’s a bit of a rant. Sorry.

Other issues that people perceive to be a problem with orchard, but could be rectified by the development team (if given the chance) include:

 - Site doesn't satisfy all user’s needs - This is because of scope creep, initially the scope was aimed at a specific set of use cases, but now we have to satisfy every use case as and when the need arises without prior notice or forum to gather requirements.  

- Design Layout – initially this was done according to initial requirements by a design team and was signed off, but now some users don’t like it. If these people had input there opinions at the start then this would have been avoided. However it can still be rectified

- Navigation Layout – See previous point.

- Searching – Some people can’t find the content they want, maybe that because the person who is in charge of content management and moving content from the previous site has spent the last 5 months researching alternative CMS systems.

Jan 25, 2013 at 9:36 AM

Some questions:

  1. Performance: Are you running 1.6 with the cache module, keep alive, warmup and syscache?
  2. Have you enabled search within the backend.
  3. Have you enabled content and widget wrappers for the frontend so users can click edit in the frontend en go directly to the right page in the backend.
Developer
Jan 26, 2013 at 1:00 PM
Edited Jan 26, 2013 at 4:04 PM

Interesting - I was wondering what his Facebook posts were about.

Upgrade All the things!

So a few things you should look to do as a first stab is to upgrade to Orchard 1.6. and also upgrade the Cache Module.

ALSO! Are you using the taxonomies module? There are some performance issues with an earlier version that have been fixed with the latest version. If you contact me I can give you an updated version.

In terms of Caching, are you using the inbuilt cache stuff to deal with caching or are you using something like Redis, Memcache or Appfabric?

Content

One issue with content searching is the fact its tough but have you enabled the search module? Once enabled you need to specify the fields to index etc

Have you thought about Inline Editing on the page itself? thus to stop users from having to go to the admin screens? Me and Sipke (Skywalker) started http://orchardinlineediting.codeplex.com/ It works, but needs a lot more work to make it a viable solution.

Theming

You can actually theme the Admin screens, There is a Twitter bootstrap version and I am sure Stu Moran would love to take on and make awesome? https://github.com/yhnavein/orchard-bootstrap-admin-theme

 

Sorry to hear that your not getting any feedback from the client on some of your issues.

If you want to jump on a Skype call or want me to take a look at your code base and place some recomendations let me know. Jetski5822 at gmail dot com

Also Skype is Jetski5822

Nick

Developer
Jan 26, 2013 at 1:24 PM

Yo Chill bug are you aware of this thread from David?

http://compositec1.codeplex.com/discussions/406630

"Thanks for the suggestions. Given the frustrations our developers have with Orchard, I don't think that I'm going to have too many problems selling C1 to them."

:)

Jan 28, 2013 at 8:55 AM

Nick,

Thanks very much for your feedback. I have a couple of questions :)

Upgrading

We will look at upgrading to Orchard 1.6 as the first step. Hopefully this will bring some performance improvement.

Caching

Is the latest caching module compatible with web farms? I see from the description it uses ASP.NET internal cache but not sure if there is a cache provider for ASP.NET handles distributed caching? We need to research this, but if you know of anything off hand, let us know!

Currently, we are not using any front-end caching. However, the main complaint from users is more about the speed of the admin area, which I'm not convinced would be solved by caching anyway? Correct me if I'm wrong.

Taxonomies

We are using Taxonomies 1.4, which I believe is the latest release version from the gallery. Do you have a newer version?

Cheers

Charlie

Jan 28, 2013 at 12:51 PM

Are you using the warmup module? I was getting really slow form submits in the admin area whenever I published content. It seems to have been resolved by disabling the Warmup module feature's "generate warmup pages whenever content is published" feature. 

Developer
Jan 28, 2013 at 1:07 PM

We are using Taxonomies 1.4 = That's your problem. There is a huge DB performance bug in it. Do you want the latest copy? (Wing me and emai land ill send you a much upgraded version)

Caching = If you upgrade to Orchard Tip, rather than 1.6 you will get webfarm support.

As 'TheMonarch' as said the Warmup module causes some performance issues, I think they are fixed in the very tip of Orchard.

Nick

Jan 28, 2013 at 1:35 PM

Nick,

Have dropped you an email about the latest version of Taxonomies, thanks.

With regards to upgrading to 1.6/Tip, the main spanner in the works is the Advanced Menu Module, which I believe doesn't work on 1.5+. Unfortunately we're quite heavily invested in this module with 4 quite complex menu structures. I guess we need to look at how to re-implement this functionality in Orchard standard menu stuff.

We're not using the warmup module, so hopefully this won't be affecting us.

Charlie

Jan 28, 2013 at 1:37 PM
Jetski5822 wrote:

Yo Chill bug are you aware of this thread from David?

http://compositec1.codeplex.com/discussions/406630

"Thanks for the suggestions. Given the frustrations our developers have with Orchard, I don't think that I'm going to have too many problems selling C1 to them."

:)

Hello Nick and Znowman

Thanks for the helpful suggestions, CD is on the case.

I also read all of DB's posts and I turned in to my avatar (chillibug) by the end of it.

Jan 29, 2013 at 10:27 AM

Hi Guys,

I was interested to see this discussion appear on the Orchard forums.

Just to clear up a few points.

  • I'm the Web Manager for our university, yet despite this, I was not given a say in the choice of our CMS.
  • I was dropped into the website redesign project, right at the end of the implementation stage, after the former project manager left. My task then was to get the content of the website finalised and ready for launch.
  • Shortly after launch, we began to hear grumbles from users, and I was asked to: 1. investigate how other CMS work. 2. begin compiling a list of features that users would like to see implemented in our Orchard system. We have submitted the list to our developers and eagerly await implementation.

I don't have a problem with Orchard per-se. I think it is an excellent platform upon which to build web applications and complex sites requiring deep integration with other systems. This is mirrored by comments I've heard from friends in other businesses using Orchard sites. However, I don't believe that Orchard is a good system to run a large distributed website, like ours, upon. The back-end user interface is not very intuitive. The object-centric templating system is overly complex and may inhibit our ability to re-skin the site quickly (an important consideration from a Marketing perspective). The taxonomy system is difficult to work with, and creating new sections requires multiple steps that are absent from most other CMS (i.e., content menus and breadcrumbs should be generated programatically, not manually).

I'm glad to hear that page load times will be improved by moving to version 1.6.

Composite C1 appears to satisfy most (if not all) of our amended user requirements, which is why I have been asked to put together a demonstration site for presentation to our users. I should point out, however, that it is not the only option on the table (Contensis also looks like a promising option). Our users and senior management will be the ones who will make the final selection of CMS going forward.

We do enjoy working with you guys, but please understand our frustrations.

May I suggest that we focus this discussion on the pros and cons of Orchard vs Composite C1, as this will help guide our decisions.

Thanks.

Jan 29, 2013 at 10:40 AM

Hello, I have decide to rename this thread so as not to confuse people as to what this discussion has turned in to.

Developer
Jan 29, 2013 at 11:40 AM
Edited Jan 29, 2013 at 12:18 PM

@David - The comments users have are very important to us (As in the community) - We constantly look at improving the core offering based on user feedback, if we receive no feedback then we don't know how to improve.

It might be worth sketching down in detail the feedback from users, this way we can look to improve the product, "don't suffer in silence", come out in the open and tell us the issues..

One of your developers above has already engaged us around performance, from that we have already highlighted some major areas of concern that can be fixed quite quickly to help your company move forward faster.

I can however help you in the short term address some things you have noted down...

I don't believe that Orchard is a good system to run a large distributed website: I know the size of Bath Spas website, and its not that big and not that distributed at the moment (trust me on this). Orchard is designed to scale horizontally (i.e. more machines more power) - The indexing system wil; also scale without doing anything. The only thing that current does not scale is the caching - HOWEVER, if you take the tip of Orchard and the Tip of the Caching Module, You then can integrate with Memcache or Redis or whatever, then you have a distributed caching strategy.

The back-end user interface is not very intuitive: This is something echoed by a number of people. I have suggested above that you can reskin this. maybe with Twitter bootstrap, (Maybe with the WMS system you wrote :) )

The object-centric templating system is overly complex and may inhibit our ability to re-skin the site quickly: Why would this inhibit the re-skinning of the site? When re-skinning you mainly look at CSS... However, there are newer modules in the works to address some layout issues, also to allow users to build their own layouts, You Input on this would be awesome.

The taxonomy system is difficult to work with: Is this the taxonomy module? Have you taken a look at Chapters? Also I have sent one of your developers a supped up version of the taxonomy module, hopefully that should help, but from a UX perspective we would love feedback.

Content menus and breadcrumbs should be generated programatically, not manually: With the new menu system link I sent to one of your developers, you can now generate these automatically using Query links :) - In-fact the menu system you are using is very old and has ALOT of performance issues - The new version is a million times better.

I hope that helps and please let us know how we can improve the UX/UI feel of Orchard, your feedback is very important.

Nick

Jan 29, 2013 at 12:53 PM

Nick, thanks for the great post. Thanks also to Chillibug and David for their feedback.

  • I agree with Nick on the thing about the Bath Spa site not being very large, and definitely not too large for Orchard (if there is such a thing). I looked around the site, and checked out the site map, and I'd classify it as a smaller site. 
  • I also agree with Nick on the template system. Once you have the "aha moment" you will not see the template system as difficult. Even without the aha moment, I don't see how the template system would get in your way for re-skinning the site. The theme is where you skin the site, and the template system actually gives you very, very granular control, if you want, over the markup for specific UI elements. You don't have to take advantage of that, and you can still reskin a site by altering the theme. 

The things I do agree with Dave on: 

  • Back end not that intuitive (admin content search helps a little, but it could be a lot better. Having it as a separate tab is not good UX-wise). I think the default admin UX and look and feel are developer centric. If you're a developer and you know how Orchard works, the UI makes sense and you tend not to notice anything bad about it. Non tech users who use our back end eventually like that they can edit anything on our site, but they invariably dislike the UI and have a hard time figuring things out at first. I know a lot of people hate this idea, but even using default bootstrap + incorporating search better into the "Content" section (not as a separate tab) would be an improvement over current admin UI. The look and feel of the back end should look more polished. Orchard's default admin UI has a very barebones feel to it, and many non-tech users will judge Orchard based on that alone. 
  • Taxonomy System difficult to work with. My perspective on this is outdated because I last used it over a year ago. At the time it was slow, and I found it hard to use. I can't remember specifics, but I remember being really frustrated with trying to get it working. 
Jan 29, 2013 at 12:55 PM

Nick, is your AppFabric caching module still working? I'm looking for a caching solution for Azure, should I be looking at your module, or should we be creating a new Azure implementation based on the new Caching stuff in the Orchard tip? 

Developer
Jan 29, 2013 at 2:06 PM

Yes most of Davids points are very valid. 

Twitter bootstrap luckily is already an option, which I think is fantastic.

Taxonomies is due for a 1.7 release, obviously whilst developing it for 1.7 UX and UI feedback is most welcome - tell us what you think is crap about it and we will do our best to fix it.

Appfabric module doesn't work anymore, There will be a replacement from Brett I think :)